We are entering the part of the season where players’ motivation can be hard to gauge. The lower to middle ranked players probably have little to play for and could have one eye on a holiday. The top players who have qualified for the year end events won’t want to risk an injury. All players are carrying some sort of physical issue as they are all season. The difference now is that there is less reason to play through any pain or discomfort. Expect a few more retirements than normal between now the end of the season.
Our first match could be a good example of this!
Svitolina plays Cornet in Moscow. She tweeted that she asked the organisers to let her play on Tuesday or Wednesday to allow a little longer rest for her back. She ended the tweet #moremotivatedthanever. Is that sarcastic? I’d say so.
Cornet starts at 1.57 and their stats for the last 3 months are very similar. Svitolina has had her own back problems and has also been quite unlucky with her opponents recently.
This will be Cornet’s first match since she retired against Schiavone a couple of weeks ago.
We can expect a slow start from Cornet anyway as she will take a few games to find her timing and if Svitolina is serving well she has a good chance of making the second round.
Watson has lost to Wickmayer in their two previous meetings which were both last year on hard courts.
Both players have been in poor form though Watson’s has been due to injury and the fact that it is taking her a while to get back her touch.
Not surprisingly Wickmayer starts as favourite at 1.65 . Over the last 3 months Watson’s stats are stronger despite just 1 win in 6 matches. Wickmayer has 1 win from 7.
Watson created more break chances and converted a higher percentage of them. She also saved more break points on her own serve than Wickmayer.
I think Watson can take the lead in this one but whether she can stay there is another matter. This could turn into a competition of who can choke the most but to give Heather the benefit of the doubt her issues have been more physical than mental.
I think it’s worth laying Wickmayer if we can get below 1.35 to 1.40.
Roger Vasselin reached the quarter finals last year at the Kremlin Cup. Today he faces Vesely who has lost all his previous 4 main draw matches on the ATP tour.
1.46 on the Frenchman would seem reasonable as Vesely retried from his last match with an ankle injury.
My concerns here are that Vasselin lost in Tokyo to Lucky Loser Lacko and that he also had an ankle injury a couple of months ago. I don’t feel he is reliable enough to risk him in this one and I have a sneaky feeling that Vesely will feel he has nothing to lose and may come out swinging.
In Stockholm Paire has a tricky match with Giraldo who came so close to knocking out John Isner last week.
They have only played once before which was in the Paris Masters in 2011. Giraldo won in 3 sets.
Last week in Shanghai Paire played well to beat fellow Frenchman Simon in straight sets before losing in 2 tight sets to Florian Mayer. He can be a difficult player to predict at any time of the year. If you look at his results from the back end of the season last year he rarely made it past the second round.
Last year Giraldo had surgery early in September that put him out for the rest of the season so he has had a good chance to grab some ranking points and seems motivated.
I think this goes to 3 sets and I won’t be at all surprised to see Paire go home.