It’s semi-final Saturday at the 2014 WTA Mutua Madrid Open, as this Premier Madatory event heads to the business end of proceedings.
There was more than a hint of unfortunate timing about my opening wager on Friday when my advice of backing Petra Kvitova came at the same time that news filtered through that her opponent Serena Williams had withdrawn.
I said yesterday that Serena hadn’t looked fit and to be fair to her she did the right thing in pulling out, but it did blow the tournament wide open from an outright betting perspective.
New favourite after Friday’s quarter-finals is Maria Sharapova, who takes on Aga Radwanska, while Kvitova faces Simona Halep.
Petra Kvitova 2.50 vs Simona Halep 1.50 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 10.35
The Czech leftie is into her second semi-final here at La Caja Mágica after winning the tournament back in 2011 and she will be well rested after the walkover past Williams.
But Halep didn’t exactly exert herself either in a straightforward win over Ana Ivanovic and this isn’t the easiest of matches to call.
Their only prior career meeting was on hard courts in New Haven last summer and Halep was a 6-2, 6-2, winner that day, which if I recall correctly was a shocker from Kvitova, who didn’t seem to enjoy the match-up one bit.
That’s Petra though and you never really know what you’ll get from the erratic Czech, while the more consistent Romanian will generally perform to a similar level week in week out if she is able to avoid injury.
One single match doesn’t really mean much in a head-to-head series, but the layers have this one about right and I tend to agree with them that Halep should be favourite for this one.
I’m hard pressed to fancy anything much here, with the 1.50 on Halep hardly appealing and the second semi-final seems to offer more value.
Agnieszka Radwanska 3.35 vs Maria Sharapova 1.30 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 12.05
This 12.00 UK time encounter, which will be the 12th in all between the Russian and the Pole looks much more appealing from a betting perspective, with a likely comfortable win for Sharapova in these conditions.
Clay has rarely been a surface that Aga enjoys, with her tame weight of shot unable to penetrate the red dirt and as ever she’ll be relying on her variety and consistency to coax the errors out of her opponent.
She may not have to try too hard if Sharapova doesn’t improve markedly on a horrible match with Li Na yesterday in which 82 unforced errors outweighed the 34 winners by a substantial margin.
But I expect Maria to step up now that she has that one out of her system and she’ll be very confident there and rightly so after beating today’s opponent nine times from 11 matches and all three times on clay.
Indeed, the pair met on indoor clay in Stuttgart a few weeks ago and Maria was a comfortable winner that day and a similar result is expected today.
On clay Radwanska is up against it and my only best bet of the day yesterday was successful when Caroline Garcia took the one set required against her by using her big game to good effect, but she wasn’t quite savvy enough to get the job done in the end.
Maria surely will be and it’s Aga’s record against the likes of Sharapova, Williams and Azarenka, which reads 5-27 that tells the tale when she comes up against the classier power players.
She’s never beaten any of them on clay and I see no reason that record will change today unless Maria has a shocker.
The 2-0 to Sharapova looks the call here at 1.75
Back Sharapova to beat Radwanska 2-0 at 1.75