Saturday’s WTA action at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin features the semi-finals of the Open GDF Suez.
Friday’s play brought a comfortable winner in my opening best bet of the day when Maria Sharapova cruised past Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-2 to ease past the minus 5.5 game handicap mark in just over an hour.
My second best bet looked all over a winner too when Andrea Petkovic went 5-1 up over Alize Cornet, before the latter won five games in a row to force a tie-break in which Petkovic was again ahead and managed to lose.
After that Cornet should have won in two, but failed on match points, leading to a decider that again Petkovic was a break up in and still came out the loser. A typical day on the WTA Tour, really.
Elsewhere Angelique Kerber was beaten by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a final set breaker, while Sara Errani pulled out a win over Elina Svitolina late on Friday night.
Maria Sharapova 1.16 vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5.00
Perhaps surprisingly these pair of aggressive hitters have only met on one prior occasion on the WTA Tour, which was way back in 2010 on the outdoor hard courts of Cincinnati in a three set win for the Russian number one.
Sharapova was too powerful for the cute game of Flipkens on Friday and never looked likely to fail on the handicap, but today could be a different proposition as she faces an opponent who brings a similar level of weaponry to the court in Pavs.
The younger of the two Russians can be a threat to anyone on her day, as her 13 wins over top-10 ranked opposition shows, but that success over Kerber yesterday was her first such victory in 13 matches since another win over Kerber in Monterrey last season.
Pavs is a little too inconsistent to regularly cause problems for the top players and, let’s be honest, she really needs to work on her fitness to make her more mobile around the court. At the moment she relies largely on pure power to win her matches and that doesn’t get it done often against the very best.
Sharapova famously has a superb record against fellow Russians that reads 84-25 in all competitions and she’s won her last 15 straight since a loss to Elena Vesnina back in 2010. Quite simply, Maria is simply a class above Pavs on her best form.
I think Pavs can trouble Maria for a while in this one and it should be her most competitive match this week, and while 1.16 on Sharapova is hardly worthy of interest the 1.88 on over 19.5 games is. I feel one set at least will be close and that may be all that bet needs.
Sara Errani 1.36 vs Alize Cornet 3.05
What can you say about Cornet? I will give her her dues for showing some real fight on Friday night after being out-gunned early on by Petkovic in what was a thoroughly bizarre match, and I can’t count her out completely here against Errani.
Alize has the home support behind her and a fair proportion of the line judges as well if some of the appalling calls here this week are anything to go by. Why a Premier level event doesn’t have HawkEye is beyond me and there will doubtless be a few more shockers again on Saturday.
Errani and Cornet have met four times, with the most recent being a tight win for the Italian on outdoor hard in Toronto in two sets in which Cornet produced seven double faults.
Much, if not all, depends on Cornet’s emotional state and surely she must be shattered by now after back-to-back long matches, and Errani will make her work for every point in typical style.
It’s a tricky one to bet on, with Errani at 1.36 holding little appeal, but Cornet is hard to fancy too at around 3.05 after two long battles.
The slight preference is for Errani 2-0 at 1.90, but it’s not a match I will be betting on.
Back over 19.5 games in Sharapova/Pavlyuchenkova at 1.88