Quarter-final and semi-final action is on the schedule for today in week 42 of the WTA Tour at the Kremlin Cup and BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open.
In Luxembourg they’ve reached the last four, while over in Moscow we have last eight action, with play getting underway in Russia at around 10:00 UK time and from 16:00 UK time in Luxembourg.
Thursday’s wagers returned one very comfortable winner and an equally straightforward defeat, as Nastia Pavlyuchenkova played very well against a jaded Alison Riske to defeat the American in straight sets, but Aleksandra Krunic was poor.
The Serbian described her display against Tsvetana Pironkova as “terrible tennis” and that would seem a fair enough assessment.
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova vs Mona Barthel
As I mentioned yesterday, we need to be looking for players with motivation at this very late stage of the season and it worked out well with Pavs yesterday.
Today’s matches look tough, but Zahlavova Strycova will surely be looking to cap a fine season that has seen her climb to a career high ranking with a first WTA Tour title since 2011.
And she has a great chance to achieve that aim here in Luxembourg this week with Barthel, Annika Beck and Denisa Allertova the remaining players in the draw.
BZS is likely to be seeded for the Australian Open in January, but it’s a very close run thing, with the likes of Camila Girogi, Pironkova and Pavlyuchenkova all still in with chances too.
So, I would expect a strong performance from the Czech here in conditions that suit her all-court game and if she uses those skills wisely it should be enough to cause all sorts of problems for the one-dimensional Barthel.
The German would surely have been on her way out of this tournament earlier had Monica Niculescu not become injured and BZS simply needs to watch set one of that match to figure out how to win this.
Zahlavova Strycova should know this in any case after beating Barthel in their most recent meeting in Cincy this summer in a match she finished with a bagel set in and as a 2.08 underdog today she looks the best wager on the WTA side on Friday.
She’s certainly in good form and confident after thrashing Johanna Larsson 6-0, 6-2 yesterday and hopefully she sees this week as a great opportunity.
Barthel, if she has one of those days where it all comes together, could take this out of Zahlavova Strycova’s hands, but that doesn’t happen often and I certainly wouldn’t want to back her to do so at odds-on here.
Elsewhere, I can’t be backing Annika Beck as a 1.52 shot against Allertova, who has nothing at all to lose and could easily upset the German, but the Czech has played 16 sets already this week compared to Beck’s six.
In Moscow I would expect wins for Girogi and Pavs, but they’re a tad short for my liking, and the only other one I would consider today would be to take Lucie Safarova against Sveta Kuznetsova, who looked very jaded in her last match and has ankle problems.
Sveta has never made a final here in Moscow since first coming in 2001 and tends to bow out at this stage of the tournament, historically.
Back Zahlavova Strycova to beat Barthel at 2.08