Caroline Wozniacki will beat Sabine Lisicki as the pair meet in Dubai for sixth time, writes Sean Calvert...
There are eight first and second round matches on the schedule at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Tuesday in this week’s Premier level tournament.
My bets went one from two on Monday, as Carla Suarez-Navarro comfortably took down the immobile Nadia Petrova quickly enough to make the unders an easy winner, before Venus Williams foiled my second bet with a straight sets win over Elena Vesnina, who was poor.
The younger of the two Williams sisters is in action today in her first match since Melbourne and Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber and Jelena Jankovic are also in action today at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Halep has a rough turnaround after contesting the final in Doha on Sunday, with a 10am UK time start on Tuesday in Dubai, but she’s on such a high at the moment that it probably won’t stop her from taking down Alize Cornet – unless the phantom Achilles problem crops up again of course.
Also at 10am Jankovic faces Maryna Zanevska, who overcame a 0-5 deficit in the first set of her qualifying match to beat the hapless Mona Barthel 7-6, 6-4 yesterday. JJ should ease through this one against the 20-year-old from Ukraine.
Caroline Wozniacki vs Sabine Lisicki
This classic match-up of the all-out attack of the German versus the measured, counter punching of the Dane takes place at around 12pm UK time and will be the sixth meeting between the pair.
Caro leads the series 3-2 at the moment, but their last meeting on outdoor hard will be memorable to many (not least me) for when Lisicki choked horrendously from a set and 3-0 up to slump to defeat at the Australian Open in 2013.
This match today may be another tough one for Sabine, who withdrew from last week’s event in Doha with a shoulder problem and it’s been a very stop/start season for her so far, with just four matches under her belt and she comes into this undercooked for me.
Lisicki’s major weapon and way of setting up her points is her booming serve and after a problem with her serving shoulder any reduction in power in her delivery will play right into the consistent Woz’s hands.
Caro hasn’t exactly been in the best of form herself, but she has a far better record in hard court Premier events and she made the semi finals here last year.
If there’s strong wind around as there was on Monday that will annoy Lisicki and the Wozniacki minus 2.5 games on the handicap is my choice here.
Serena Williams vs Ekaterina Makarova
Serena hasn’t played since Melbourne and at a venue where she’s never won the title and hasn’t hit a ball since 2009 she may be a tad rusty against Makarova, who famously beat Serena in Australia in 2012.
It’s rarely a sensible move taking Williams on, but a small stakes wager on the Russian to win the first set at 6.25 could well pay off, with the American’s current form or physical condition uncertain.
Makarova was very average against Alisa Kleybanova yesterday, but that match will be very useful to her in terms of getting a level on the windy conditions here in Dubai and it may take Williams a bit of time to find her level in the circumstances.
Back Wozniacki –2.5 games to beat Lisicki at 1.72
Back Makarova to win set one at 6.25