It’s quarter-finals day in this week’s Premier event on the WTA Tour, with semi-final spots up for grabs in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.
An awful collapse from Flavia Pennetta, who led by a set over Jelena Jankovic yesterday, cost me my opening bet, as the Italian managed to get just one, single, solitary, first serve into play during the whole of set two.
I can’t remember such a dreadful display of serving in any level of tennis since Nikolay Davydenko’s infamous fine for not giving best effort in St Petersburg many years ago.
It didn’t get much better in the third from Pennetta, who overall put just 31% of her first deliveries into play and you’re not going to win anything with those numbers.
My next wager paid off for those who took the +1.5 sets on Kuznetsova, rather than the 2-1 Halep, which I eventually plumped for, as Sveta did indeed cause problems for the Romanian.
The 2-1 was rather unlucky, as Halep had three straight set points to win set two and had she taken one the decider would probably have gone her way, but she didn’t and Kuznetsova won in two.
We start at 12.00 UK time today, with the defending champion in action.
Agnieszka Radwanska 2.75 vs Maria Sharapova 1.43 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 12.05
Maria’s unbeaten record at this tournament, where she’s two-time defending champion is likely to remain intact after this 11th career meeting with Radwanska.
Sharapova has won eight of their 10 previous matches and this speedy, slippery clay surface suits the bigger game of the Russian, who has now chalked up 10 straight wins at this tournament and doesn’t look like stopping any time soon at the home of her sponsors, Porsche.
Maria continued her excellent record against fellow Russians yesterday, with an 80th win over her fellow countrywomen at tour level and her 24th in her last 26after beating Nastia Pavlyuchenkova with the minimum of fuss.
Radwanska isn’t generally at her best on clay, with just the one title on the dirt in almost six years and she doesn’t have the weight of shot to really worry the very best big hitters in the game, unless their radar is off.
And that’s her best hope really, that Maria misfires and has a poor day on serve, which is possible, but the likelihood is that Sharapova will continue her run without too many problems at a tournament she clearly enjoys.
One has to go all the way back to the French Open of 2011 to find Maria’s last loss on clay to anyone other than Serena Williams, during which time she’s racked up a 37-3 record and she should make that 38 wins today.
The 2-0 to Sharapova looks the call here at 2.02, with the minus 3.5 games also an option at 1.83.
Next up at 14.30 UK time is Sara Errani taking on Carla Suarez Navarro and I said yesterday that CSN may well cause problems for Angelique Kerber after a long Fed Cup trip to Australia and back.
That was indeed the case and the Spaniard could well do the same to Errani if she’s on form, but the career record suggests this one will probably go the way of the Italian, but rarely do I see any value in backing a player whose serve is so feeble and could be broken at any time.
Jankovic has been moaning about the surface again, saying it’s “like playing on ice” after she fell over and cut her knees, but she should be too consistent for big-hitting Alisa Kleybanova today, who won’t like JJ’s variety.
Perhaps the most intriguing match of the day is the 17.30 UK time start between Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic and the big question is can Sveta back up her first top-five win since beating Radwanska at the French Open almost two years ago.
On her day she’s a threat to all and these two former French Open champions could well play the match of the day here if they both hit form.
Ivanovic was blown away by a peak Julia Goerges for a set yesterday, but she regrouped and allowed the hurricane to blow itself out and she brings an 8-4 career series lead over the Russian into today’s clash.
If Sveta continues the way she’s been playing she has a fine chance of the upset at around 2.75 here, but consistency has been her problem in recent years and it is a gamble.
Back Sharapova to beat Radwanska 2-0 at 2.02