The WTA Tour has just the one event to focus on this week, with the International level Portugal Open in play on week 18.
It was a very nice end to proceedings in Stuttgart on Sunday, as my 3.90 tip of Maria Sharapova to beat Ana Ivanovic by two sets to one came to fruition and brought some reward in what’s always a tricky betting week on the indoor clay.
We’re back outdoors on the red dirt this week in Oeiras, Portugal and conditions do tend to be windy and usually on the slow side, which can be highlighted by the good performances of Carla Suarez Navarro here last year.
The Spaniard was brought up in the Canary Islands – in Gran Canaria to be precise – where the wind is a regular and strong visitor to the island and Carla is well used to playing in such conditions as a result.
Indeed, CSN choked away the final here last year, but she’s back as number one seed this time and is joined by the likes of Eugenie Bouchard, Sam Stosur, Lucie Safarova and Sveta Kuznetsova in a 32-player draw.
There are four first round matches on the card for Monday at the Portugal Open, as qualies complete, and last year’s quarter finalist is in action first up at 11.00 UK time.
Bojana Jovanovski 2.45 vs Monica Puig 1.52 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 11.05
I have to side with Monica here, after her run here 12 months ago and she looks a good bet to back that up by progressing to the next round at the expense of an out of form opponent, who lacks the patience to be a factor on clay.
Puig’s progress has halted since she made her first tour level quarter final here as a qualifier last year, but much of that has been due to injury and she’s shown signs of a return to form over her last couple of tournaments.
It will be her first match on clay since just after the French Open last year, but it took Suarez Navarro to stop Puig both here 12 months ago and in the French Open.
In contrast Jovanovski has only once won two consecutive matches in the main draw of any tour level clay court event and has lost her last five matches in all competitions in 2014.
The Serb was thrashed by Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor last week in Marrakech, which was no disgrace really the way that MTTF was playing there, but Bojana’s confidence must be very low and she can’t be looking forward to a battle in the wind with Puig on clay today.
This will be the first meeting between the pair and the consistent ball striking of Puig should come out on top against the guileless bashing of Jovanovski in these slow, windy conditions.
The minus 1.5 game handicap on Puig at 1.60 looks the call here.
Back Puig –1.5 games to beat Jovanovski at 1.60