The round of 16 is on the agenda at the 2014 Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio on Thursday, with many of the top WTA stars in action today.
The forecast is set to be hot and fairly humid again today in Cincy and play starts in our eight matches from 16:00 UK time.
It was a peculiar day’s tennis at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre yesterday, with Sabine Lisicki contributing massively to her own struggles against Sara Errani by serving no fewer than 18 double faults.
You’re not likely to cover a handicap giving four-and-a-half games away in double faults and although she just about edged the match in a final set breaker it wasn’t good enough, but Lucie Safarova righted the ship soon after.
The in-form Czech eased past Zarina Diyas and covered the handicap there with one game to spare to make it one from two on the day and those on my other pick of Svetlana Kuznetsova would also have had a nice winner there when she beat Genie Bouchard in the night match.
Thursday’s matches offer some decent options for value seekers and those up late might look to Angelique Kerber to provide it.
Caroline Wozniacki vs Angelique Kerber
Woz has been playing some excellent tennis lately, but should she really be a 1.65 shot against an opponent who’s beaten her in five of their last six meetings?
I would suggest not and it’s not as if Kerber isn’t in form as well, with the German having made the final in Stanford and only being beaten by powerful performances by the Williams sisters in her last two tournaments.
Kerber kept the sequence of quick matches in her head-to-head with Kate Makarova going last night with a comfortable win and she’s certainly in the kind of form to do some damage to the Woz revival in these conditions.
It’s likely to be a tight match, as their grass court clash in Eastbourne was a few months ago and Kerber will have to battle and scrap for the win in all probability, but 2.20 seems like value to me in this 02:00 UK time encounter.
The shortlist for my second bet contains Nastia Pavlyuchenkova, Safarova, Sloane Stephens, Carla Suarez Navarro, and Kuznetsova, who all have chances at decent prices today.
Pavs can push Maria Sharapova, who’s been in sketchy form and may be suffering a bit with her shoulder, while Safarova can take at least a set off Simona Halep in the 16:00 UK time start.
CSN may prove too solid for Elina Svitolina, who is too short to follow up her win over an out of touch Petra Kvitova and Kuznetsova has a shot against Ivanovic, who doesn’t look in great form and fitness this week so far.
READ: Wozniacki ready to put rory split behind her and hit form at us open
Sloane Stephens vs Jelena Jankovic
It’s a very tough decision, but I’m just going to side with Stephens to exact a bit of revenge over Jankovic for a couple of tight losses to the Serbian – one of which came last week in Montreal.
The other tight, three set loss to JJ came here last year, but Stephens is one to stick with when she finds her best form and as an underdog she could be good value against an opponent who has won just twice since the French Open.
One of those wins was against Stephens of course, but with the home crowd behind her I’m expecting to get a good run for my money with the American, which has certainly not always been the case.
I said yesterday that I was going to stick with SS against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and she got that job done comfortably enough, while Jelena was grinding away against the feeble Annika Beck.
Clearly, the pair are well matched, and the overs will no doubt be popular, but with her confidence returning under new coach Thomas Hogstedt she looks a decent bet in this 20:00 UK time clash.
Back Kerber to beat Wozniacki at 2.20
Back Stephens to beat Jankovic at 2.10