The semi-finals of the 2014 Coupe Rogers in Montreal are set for Saturday, with a keenly anticipated clash of two legends of the game in prospect today.
Serena and Venus Williams meet across the net of a match court for only the second time in five seasons, while Kate Makarova and Aga Radwanska face off in the second semi final.
We start at 18:00 UK time in Montreal on Saturday, where a sunny day, with no chance of rain forecast.
Serena Williams vs Venus Williams - Live on Unibet TV
The world number one foiled my bet yesterday by starting very slowly in a laboured 2-1 over a perky Caroline Wozniacki and perhaps she lacked some of her killer instinct playing against a good friend.
Wozniacki did play well again in fairness to the Dane and it was a decent test for Williams, who will have to come out and beat someone even closer to her today.
It makes this match tricky to bet on, with Serena the obvious likely winner here, but there’s always that bit of doubt when she’s playing against her sister.
Serena has won the last five meetings between the pair, with Venus’s last win coming way back in 2009 – a season when they met five times.
Only on the green clay of Charleston earlier this year have they met since then, with Serena a convincing winner on that occasion, but Venus is in much better form and physical condition now.
Provisionally back inside the top-20 and America’s number two player again, Venus has said she’s able to play back-to-back matches properly for the first time since 2010, but surely she must be getting fatigued by now.
The 34-year-old has played four three set matches in a week after another one last night against Carla Suarez Navarro and it’s hard to know how much, if anything, she has left.
Venus’s first serve has been a problem all week in terms of percentage, at around the 50% mark or lower, and unless that improves it’s hard to see her winning today.
In opening sets this week Venus’s first serve percentage has been 48%, 48% again, 44%, and 41%, which if repeated will surely lead to Serena winning the opener fairly comfortably, with Serena –2.5 games appealing at 2.10.
The circumstances make this very tough to bet on, so I don’t think it’s worth siding with an odd-on shot in this one.
Agnieszka Radwanska vs Ekaterina Makarova - Live on Unibet TV
This is an interesting match and probably not a semi final of a Premier 5 that many would have picked at the start of the week, with Aga out of form and Makarova comfortably beaten by Sveta Kuznetsova in DC.
I said yesterday that Vika Azarenka was too short at 1.57 against Radwanska in their quarter final and it turned out that she was not in the physical condition to compete, which wrecked my bet on the overs there.
Vika’s knee let her down and it was a comfortable and welcome win for Aga, who now looks forward to gaining revenge on Makarova for a heavy loss at Wimbledon at the hands of the Russian.
Indeed, Makarova has won the last two meetings between the pair after another straight sets win at the US Open a year ago and it’s turning into a tricky match-up in quick conditions for Aga.
However, Makarova played last night with a substantial strapping on her right leg, which adds another dimension to this match, and with Kate having played eight matches in a week it could be a good time for Aga to be playing her.
Kate’s lack of experience in big matches could also count against her, with this being only her second Premier level semi final and first Premier 5 semi.
The first was at Eastbourne on grass back in 2010 and it’s hardly a tournament of this magnitude, so the nerves might be a factor too here.
This is another tough one to call, with Makarova clearly having the ability to hit through Aga, but she may well not be able to do so today after a lot of matches and likely nerves, so I’ll plump for Aga today at 1.59.
Back S.Williams –2.5 games in set one at 2.10
Back Radwanska to beat Makarova at 1.59