Hantuchova showed some of her old form yesterday to beat a tired Flipkens in 3 sets. Her head to heads with Dominguez Lino are strong but with no completed match in the last 2 and a half years it may be mis-leading.
Lino has improved a great deal over the last 12 months and has made herself difficult to beat. She has won both her matches this week in straight sets. In China last week she beat Vinci and Robson.
Hantuchova is too low at 1.45 as I feel Lino has a chance to at least take this match close. As I said earlier this week she never stops fighting. Of course at this stage of the season we don’t know which players are fit and which are more likely to give in to those season-long injuries.
Niculescu reached the final in Luxembourg last year where she lost to Azarenka. During that tournament she beat Hradecka in 2 close sets. That was the only time they have met on a hard court. The full head to heads are 2-2.
Neither player has lost a set so far. Niculescu beat an out of sorts Oprandi in the first round and then beat Goerges yesterday. The German has been in decent recent form so its a good indication that Niculescu is finding her own form at the end of a long season.
Hradecka had a tough first round match with Paszek which went to a tie break in the second set. She easily beat Beck yesterday and her serve has remained fairly consistent. Against Niculescu’s sometimes awkward style of play she may get frustrated and go for too much power which I expect to lead to errors.
Hradecka starts as slight favourite at 1.70 and I will be laying part stake from the start and look to get another lay below 1.40 . Niculescu to win in 3 sets.
Roger Vasselin knocked out Dolgopolov in a third set tie break yesterday. Dolgopolov was below his best but the Frenchman didn’t give him many cheap points and deserved the win. Karlovic served well in his match with Bogomolov. Perhaps a better player than Bogo Jr could have taken the break points that Karlovic was able to save with big serves. Roger Vasselin is a better returner and Karlovic won’t find it quite so easy to get out of jail.
Return of serve isn’t Karlovic’s strong point and even though Dolgopolov was below par he was unable to break R-V’s serve in sets 1 and 3.
This will be a tight match but I will look to lay Karlovic below 1.50 as I favour Roger Vasselin here.