The final three round robin matches in the WTA Tournament of Champions take place today, with semi-final spots up for grabs in both groups.
In Group Serdika, Simona Halep qualified yesterday by crushing Elina Svitolina, but the second semi-final place will be decided between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alize Cornet tonight.
The situation in Group Sredets is more complex, with all three players there in with chances of making it to the last four.
Elena Vesnina vs Ana Ivanovic
This fourth meeting in the career series of Vesnina and Ivanovic looks the most competitive encounter of the final series of round robin matches in Group Sredets.
Although Ivanovic is more or less assured of qualifying, if she loses today and Sam Stosur wins it could get complicated in this group, with all three players holding 2-1 win/loss marks.
Vesnina won the last match between the pair and the only one this season, but it was on grass, which Ivanovic has never been effective on, while Vesnina collected her second tour title of the year on the grass of Eastbourne after beating Ana in the first round.
The Russian made a meal of beating Tsvetana Pironkova yesterday and drew comments from her opponent after taking a bathroom break ahead of the decisive third set in that match.
Ivanovic surprised me by beating Stosur, who didn’t serve as well as she can, which allowed the Serbian to get the upper hand and with her semi-final place still not certain, I would expect her to finish this in two sets.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Alize Cornet
These players head into this final round robin match with one win apiece, having both been beaten in straight sets by Simona Halep. This is now a winner-takes-all clash.
A-Pavs will be the more confident coming into this fifth encounter between the pair having won all four previous meetings with Cornet and dropped just the one set in the process, which was in this year’s Fed Cup clash in Russia.
As favourite, Pavs has won 24 of her 33 matches this season and the last 10 in a row, while as underdog Cornet has an 11-18 record in 2013 and has lost five of her last six, with her only win coming when Maria Kirilenko retired here this week.
So, the stats point toward a Pavs win, but I’m not sure that 1.60 represents huge value. In a match with a lot riding on it, I prefer the over 21.5 games here, given both players’ tendency towards inconsistency.
Samantha Stosur vs Tsvetana Pironkova
The Bulgarian will be aiming for a win here with the pressure off to restore a bit of pride in front of her home supporters in Sofia.
It’s a tough assignment for Tsvetana though, who has never beaten Stosur and was hammered 6-4, 6-0 by the Aussie in their last meeting, which was back in 2011 in Beijing on outdoor hard.
We’ve already seen that the surface here aids the playing style of Sam if she serves well and it would appear that Pironkova’s game is only effective on grass these days.
Her record on indoor hard is poor and she hasn’t won a match on it since beating Jie Zheng here last year in a final set breaker.
Sam can’t afford to relax after losing to Ivanovic yesterday and she’ll probably need to come out and win this 2-0 to qualify. That looks the likely result, but the price is paltry at 1.18.
Back over 21.5 games in Pavlyuchenkova vs Cornet at 1.92
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