Caroline Wozniacki will struggle in her match against Sorana Cirstea, but Venus Williams will march on, writes Unibet tennis expert Sean Calvert...
After another weird and wonderful day’s play on Wednesday in Dubai the quarter finals are set for Thursday at the Dubai Duty Free Championships.
Lucie Safarova dropped serve at the wrong time yesterday to condemn my opening wager of the day to defeat in Dubai in a tight clash with Jelena Jankovic in which the Serb won just seven more points in the match.
Things got better later on though, as Sorana Cirstea comfortably landed the handicap for an unusually stress-free winner on the Romanian. Outright match odds punters would also have profited from that one, as Sori took the decider 6-1 to dismiss Sara Errani.
It was one of those strange old WTA days all round, with Flavia Pennetta brushing aside hot favourite Aga Radwanska after losing to the powder puff Su Wei Hsieh in her previous match on tour, while Venus Williams blitzed Ana Ivanovic for the loss of just three games.
To cap it all Petra Kvitova went down to Carla Suarez-Navarro, who I said yesterday was likely to trouble the errant Czech, after Petra initially led by a set and 4-2.
Thursday’s play starts at 10am with a battle of the veterans.
Venus Williams vs Flavia Pennetta – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 10.05 GMT
The 33-year-old Williams faces the Italian who turns 32 in a few days’ time in what will be their eighth and in all probability final meeting on the WTA Tour.
Both players have been in fine form this week, with Venus thumping Ivanovic yesterday, while Pennetta scored a first win in years over Radwanska, but I have to favour the American here.
The pacy conditions in Dubai, where she won the title in 2009 and 2010 suit her game and playing in the hottest part of the day should lead to the opportunity for Williams to hit through the Pennetta defences.
In their first meeting since 2009 I like the 1.75 on Williams minus 1.5 games on the handicap here.
Caroline Wozniacki vs Sorana Cirstea - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 11.05 GMT
This clash is another opportunity for Cirstea to use her weight of shot to hit through another defender, but one with admittedly more weapons than Errani.
Woz’s backhand is still her only powerful shot and probably always will be, as she tinkers with her game with various coaches to add some pop to her feeble forehand and this equation today is simple – either Cirstea will hit her off the court or the ball kids will be all over place trying to collect her mishits.
The Romanian is a confidence player and right now she’s on the up, but Caro has built a career on grinding down big hitters and she could well do the same today.
The 1.58 on Cirstea to win with a 1.5 set start appeals here in what is likely to be another Cirstea roller coaster ride.
Serena Williams is next up at 3pm UK time and she sometimes has problems with Jelena Jankovic. She’ll need to improve on some of the awful stuff she brought to the court against Kate Makarova and I expect she will and take care of a fatigued JJ.
The final match of the day is a tough one to call, with Alize Cornet and Suarez Navarro meeting for the first time on a hard court for four years and this one really is a toss-up.
Both players come into the match full of confidence and it has the makings of a tight tussle to me. The overs looks likely here.
Back Williams –1.5 games to beat Pennetta at 1.75
Back Cirstea +1.5 sets to beat Wozniacki at 1.58