The semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are set for Friday, with three current and former world number ones in action.
Current world ranked number one Serena Williams takes on Alize Cornet at 15.05 UK time, while former top ranked stars Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki face off earlier at 13.05 UK time.
Venus brought home a comfortable handicap winner on Thursday, as she recovered from a slow start to progress at the expense of Flavia Pennetta, while Sorana Cirstea couldn’t hit a double decker bus with a handful of peas and was comfortably despatched by Wozniacki.
Caroline Wozniacki 2.18 vs Venus Williams 1.65 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 13.05
Venus first hit the heights of best player in the world back in February 2002, but her reign was short lived and she only managed 11 total weeks in pole position, while Caro’s two spells at the top have seen her rated the best for 67 weeks.
This meeting today between the two stars will be their fifth in total and Wozniacki won’t be relishing the sight of a Williams across the net, having lost all four of her previous clashes with Venus and six of her seven against Serena.
There is, of course, a very simple for reason for that record and that’s the power of both sisters put up against just the backhand and athleticism of Wozniacki, and it’s very rare that Caro will come out on top if Venus or Serena or indeed any other power player finds their spots.
Venus was quite lethargic early on against Pennetta, but once she warmed up it was a better match and the Dane’s main hope will be to catch Venus cold with a fast start.
The pair haven’t met on tour since 2008 and the only thing that’s changed really since then is that Venus has been slowed down by injury, age and illness, but if she plays as she mainly has done this week she should win with a little in hand.
Conditions here certainly suit the bigger hitters and like last year when she lost to a power hitter, Caro’s run should end in the last four again. The minus 2.5 games on Venus at 1.90 looks good here.
Serena Williams 1.04 vs Alize Cornet 11.00 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 15.05
I said yesterday that we should expect a substantial improvement from Serena on what we saw against Kate Makarova in her opening match and that’s exactly what we got against Jankovic.
The younger Williams was understandably rusty early on here, but she stepped it up a couple of notches on Thursday and it’s very tough to see what Cornet can do to hurt her, assuming the American is fit and well.
The last time the pair met was in Brisbane in the first week of 2013 when Serena won 6-2, 6-2 and this match is surely a matter of how many games Williams will win by.
Cornet’s record against top 10 players is really poor, with her ‘win’ over Simona Halep here being just her third ever and first since beating Anna Chakvetadze (remember her? That match must have involved more tears than tennis) on clay in Rome back in 2008 – an astonishing 28 tries ago. Her full record is 3-31.
I can see only a comfortable Serena win here and the minus 6.5 games looks the call at 1.68.
Back Venus –2.5 games to beat Wozniacki at 1.90
Back Serena –6.5 games to beat Cornet at 1.68