If yesterday set the tone for the tournament we are in for an interesting couple of weeks. Several favourites including short priced favourites had a tough time.
WTA, 16:00 – Cirstea v Watson
Watson starts as a 1.53 favourite. They have played 3 times with all of them being in the last 3 seasons. Watson won them all. The two matches that were completed went to 3 sets. Cirstea retired having lost the first set in Auckland last season.
Cirstea has had a very weak season and has won just 40% of her matches since last year’s US Open. She has reached the second round for the last 2 seasons.
Watson has never won a match at this tournament and has been going there for the last 4 seasons. She has had a stronger 12 months than her opponent and ha of her matches.s won 66%. After a slow start on the hard courts after Wimbledon Watson has started to play some solid tennis.
Despite her poor form Cirstea is capable of turning that around at any time and I wouldn’t be comfortable backing Watson at 1.53 so I will be waiting for a price above 1.75.
ATP, 16:00 – Karlovic v Nieminen
Surprisingly these two players have never met before. Both have been on the tour for many years.
Karlovic is the market favourite and is currently 1.68 which has drifted a little since this morning.
The surface looks fast which obviously favours the Karlovic serve. Most of his recent losses have been to big servers. Whilst Nieminen has a decent serve I’m not sure I would class him as a big server. At least not a consistently big server.
When Nieminen is faced with a big server it is usually him whose serve breaks down first.
Tie breaks are likely to be a factor and i have to favour Karlovic to hold his serve together better than Nieminen. Karlovic has saved 70% of the break points he has faced in the last 12 months. He has held serve 92% of the time. However to offset that a little his opponents have held serve 91% of the time!
WTA, 20:00 – Shvedova v Niculescu
Shvedova had a strong grass season with a quarter final in Holland and a 4th round at Wimbledon. She has played just two matches since the tour moved back to hard courts. She lost them both as the favourite. She reached the third round at the US Open last season losing to Serena Williams.
Niculescu reached the 4th round in 2011 but has gone out in the first round for the last 2 seasons. After losing in the first round at Wimbledon she played her home tournament on the clay in Bucharest and reached the semi final. Once she moved to the hard court tournaments she has won a couple of qualifying round matches but nothing in a main draw.
Shvedova has the better game for hard courts but Niculescu has an awkward style of play. As neither of them has shown any recent hard court form I think this could be a scrappy match. I am going with Shvedova for the win in 3 sets.