I always find that I never have to look back too far in the record books to sum up the almost entirely random nature of women’s tennis. Friday at the Tournament of Champions in Sofia provided me with yet another good example.
Ana Ivanovic had played some very decent stuff to take down Sam Stosur on Thursday and 24 hours later she somehow managed to blow a 5-2 final set lead against Elena Vesnina and send her backers into the kind of betting turmoil that takes a while to shift.
I hadn’t backed Ivanovic, but I wasn’t spared the pain when Alize Cornet was overpowered by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and the French player succumbed with little more than her customary whimper and tears in what was a straight shootout between the two.
So, it’s Pavlyuchenkova that joins Simona Halep in progressing to the semi-finals, while Ivanovic’s defeat didn’t stop her from taking a last four place along with Sam Stosur.
Simona Halep vs Ana Ivanovic
The first of the semi-finals kicks off at around 3.20pm UK time and it features two players whose respective form couldn’t be more different.
On the one hand Halep has been super consistent for a long time now, while Ivanovic, as I mentioned earlier can be anywhere between pretty good and shocking. With consistent performers in WTA being as rare as hens’ teeth I have to side with the Romanian in this one.
Ivanovic came out on top in their only previous career meeting, which was a one set retirement from Simona at the start of the season in Dubai, but she seems focussed, fit and very much up for this tournament.
Ana’s often brittle confidence will have been shaken by the almighty choke against Vesnina and with Halep on a run of 13 winning sets in a row, plus the bonus of crowd support it’s hard to see her losing this one.
Her price is pretty short at 1.44, but the 1.75 about Halep winning minus 3.5 games is more palatable.
Samantha Stosur vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Sam eventually managed to come out on top of her group, despite losing to Ivanovic and as ever with the Aussie much will depend upon how well she serves today.
She did all that was required of her in defeating the hapless Tsvetana Pironkova yesterday, while Pavs looked like she’d been to a Bikram Yoga class before her match with Cornet, such was the condition of the Russian after a few games.
The pair have met on only one previous occasion and that was at Indian Wells three years ago, with Stosur a comfortable winner. She’s the rightful favourite again today – although she was underdog back in California.
Pavs has a 9-13 record against top-25 ranked opponents this year and she’s lost seven of her last eight against such opposition and she has a similar 8-13 record when betting underdog in 2013.
Stosur meanwhile has won 35 of her 51 matches as favourite this year and 11 of her last 13, while against opponents ranked lower than her the Aussie has won 36 of her 46 matches in 2013.
It seems highly likely that Stosur will take advantage of what seems to me to be a tired-looking Pavs and the Russian may well fade here if Stosur serves well.
The 1.82 about Stosur winning minus 3.5 games looks the wager in this one.
Back Halep –3.5 games to beat Ivanovic at 1.75
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