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There is another blistering field of talent on show again in this week’s WTA tennis betting. After all of the world’s top twenty stepped out for the 2011 Rogers Cup in Canada last week, we have nine of the top ten making another appearance, and some of them have a lot to prove to themselves. Two players we are missing is defending champion Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams. Serena Williams is not one of those players, as she battled her way to victory in Toronto against Aussie Sam Stosur. The showings which the Williams sisters are putting in on their return to the game, shows just what a class act they are. Once against Serena Williams will be unseeded here, as he long absence from the game saw her drop down the world rankings. This is just the fifth event in which she has appeared since being missing in action for a year, and fate could throw her back into action against Sam Stosur very soon. The two are likely to meet in the second round here, with Stosur going as tenth seed. So, while she in unseeded, Serena Williams is looking more and more powerful with every match that she gets under her belt. The power in the ground strokes and the serve is there, and to be able to step back into the game and be picking up tittles so soon is truly remarkable. This is true champion and will be worth a look in your WTA Cincinnati tennis betting for this week. As always, you have to take the draw into consideration, and there are some interesting potential opponents on the horizon. Na Li is the top seed in that particular quarter of the draw, but the big threat comes from Maria Sharapova. They could meet in the quarter finals, which sounds as if it would be a momentous clash of heavy hitting power. Looking forward to that happening, but don’t discount China’s Na Li, who always poses a threat there with her own hard and flat immense power. Superbly competitive quarter of the draw.
One player who really needs to be picking herself back up is Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane surprisingly bowed out as early as the second round at the Rogers Cup last weekend. With the world number one still on the prowl for a first Grand Slam she looks as if she could be struggling for a bit of confidence in her game. She needs to find a big weapon so that she can mix up her offence just a little bit better. Don’t take that as there being anything wrong with her game, because if she is on song then she is genuinely one of the big threats here in your WTA Cincinnati tennis betting. However, starting as top seed, as with the WTA being so wide open in terms of equal talent at the moment, there is a very tricky path ahead of Wozniacki in the first quarter. Roberta Vinci is in there, who Wozniacki won’t want to see again, and that Italian has been in really good form for most of the year. Also in there is the increasingly dangerous Andrea Petkovic and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. This is the scene where Wozniacki made her professional debut back in 2005 and will be looking to get back into the groove of things ahead of Flushing Meadows in a couple of weeks, where she can hopefully launch a strong campaign to end the season on a high of winning her first Grand Slam title. It will start with having a big bounce back performance here to kick start things. Though it is tough and you have to seriously look at Petra Kvitova as the bigger threat at the moment.
Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova will want to continue her successful season and will be worth looking at. Her section of the draw is largely made of up qualifiers, so she should progress well enough. The decisive game will be against Andrea Petkovic in the third round. In the second quarter of the draw, there is another mouth watering clash. The draw for the 2011 WTA Cincinnati tennis betting is really looking fantastic. Here we have third seed Victoria Azarenka, who is in great form at the moment, looked set to meet Sabine Lisicki who is on the rise and rise. However, she was ousted in the first round by Shahar Peer, who has disappeared for quite a large chunk of the season, but is just again standing up to make herself noticed. That makes for a great second round match, but really the momentum should all be with Victoria Azarenka, who had a strong run in Toronto last week. There really is a big opportunity for Azarenka to push home here, because the draw will really open up once she moves to the third round. The level of seeding in her quarter of the draw should not pose her too many problems. Would meet the winner of Wozniacki’s quarter in the semi finals, but Azarenka, one of our favourites on these pages is well worth taking her in your WTA Cincinnati tennis betting. Good form, a good draw and could go very well here. Will also be wanting to make a huge impact at Flushing Meadows soon and just needs to deliver that killer instinct in the latter rounds to really make her elite.
Also want to take a look at Vera Zvonaerva (who won the title here in 2006), as she is another of those players who need to pull out a bounce back performance. She exited in the third round of the Rogers Cup when she really should have been making more of a strong challenge. Her level of top performance has fallen away since the start of the year, we have seen glimpses of her at her best, but it has been nowhere near often enough. She goes as second seed here and she should be inspired by looking at the draw. Eighth seed Marion Bartoli is the biggest ranking threat to her in her quarter of the draw, so there is a chance to build some confidence here. It is tough seeing a winner come from this fourth quarter of the draw to be honest, even though the likes of Jelena Jankovic (a winner of this even back in 2009), Flavia Pennetta and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are in there. The winner of this quarter will have to square off against the winner from the tough third quarter, where Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are waiting.
WTA Cincinnati Tennis Betting Tip: Victoria Azarenka
WTA Baku Winner OddsVera Zvonareva: 11/10 at Bet365 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: 4/1 at Victor Chandler Elena Vesnina: 15/2 at Victor Chandler Katerina Makarova: 10/1 at Stan James Kateryna Bondarenko: 20/1 at Stan James
The WTA women’s tennis is coming thick and fast. No sooner has the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship ended, with Caroline Wozniacki picking up her first title of the year, than the same field is pretty much straight back into action at Doha. This is another Premier tier event, which is why so many of the top stars are out in force. This is a return to the calendar for the Qatar Ladies Open, which was last held in 2008, and the field is sparkling with talent. There is going to be no messing about in this tournament, because if you were ranked below 37th in the world, then you weren’t getting into this tournament directly. This means that there are going to be some tough challenges right from the second round, in which, the top four seeds have already gained byes to. Time to cast our eye over the feast of ladies tennis for the week, in a field which will bring out the very best, of the very best.
Caroline Wozniacki - 11/4 at Bet365
The Dane is back on top of the world, after Australian Open winner Kim Clijsters came along and stole that honour briefly. Wozniacki breezed her way to success at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. Wozniacki, understandably goes as top seed in this tournament, and gets a little break with a pass into the second round. Fitness could be the only factor working against her here, as it is hot out there, and playing back to back tournaments is bound to take its toll. She is a great player though, and again showed why last week. Her defence and anticipation is phenomenal, beating her way past Shahar Peer, Jelena Jankovic and Kuznetsova to lift the crown. The draw is going to be a big tougher than in Dubai here, could meet the likes of Flavia Pennetta, Agnieszka Radwanska, Francesca Schiavone, Kaia Kanepi and Peer or Kuznetsova again in her quarter. Back to back tournaments are extremely tough to pull off, if she does it, she’ll be well worthy of her number one mantle.
Vera Zvonareva - 5/1 at SkyBet
Failed to get the job done in Dubai last week, crashing out to fellow Russian, the big hitting Alisa Kleybanova in the third round. A much more mature player, but you still question whether she has enough to get over the finish line. However, just like Wozniacki, she is going to have to raise her game, because this is one major tough tournament with no easy rounds to get through. Azarenka, Jankovic and Li all wait for her in her half of the draw. Could have a fascinating second round match against Dominika Cibulkova, who is one of the world’s rising stars. In terms of energy, you would have to give the edge to Zvonareva over Wozniacki, as the Russian has had more of a rest. However, this is going to be a tough tournament for her to win. Worth backing though because she has a good record in Doha. Was the losing finalist the last time the tournament was ran (losing out to Maria Sharapova in 2008), has suffered a couple of losses which will be tough to swallow for her. Needs a big bounce back here, could be lined up for her. Best tip from the front runners.
Francesca Schiavone - 18/1 at Boylesports
The Italian has been seeded well at the last two WTA tournaments, but again couldn’t live up to the quality which was around her in the end. She lost out there to eventual finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova, and player on form, you would have expected Schiavone to battle past. She is fighter with a never say die attitude, and there’s actually a chance for her to shine here, if the likes of Wozniacki are a bit tired after last weeks endeavours. However, you look at what could lie ahead for her, Kanepi, Kleybanova, Bartoli, Peer, Kuznetsova just in her quarter of the draw, and you wouldn’t rush to the crack open your piggy bank and back her.
Na Li - 6/1 at SkyBet
By into the second and actually has one of the easier looking quarters of the draw. There would really only bee Jelena Jankovic to worry about at the quarter final stage. The Australian Open finalist really disappointed in Dubai last week, losing in the second round to Yanina Wickmayer. Although the Chinese star has gotten off 2011 to a great start, it can often be hard to live up to expectations. The big hitting baseline star though, has a very good chance to move deep into the tournament here. In a quarter full of qualifiers and wildcards, plus what will probably be a tired Jankovic, could make a decent splash here.
Jelena Jankovic - 14/1 at Bet365
We’ve been missing her at her best, but finally she looks to be getting to back to the JJ we have come to expect. A true world class act, hampered too much by injury last year, and looking as if she is still feeling her way back into things. She is a true competitor, and she showed it at Dubai, grinding out marathon wins against Kanepi and Sam Stosur. She couldn’t get past Wozniacki in the semi finals (as expected) but it was a very good showing from her. The endurance at Dubai probably took too much out of her to go on and win this one, however, like Na Li, should be a cert for a quarter final berth (where the two players would meet). Fantastic footwork and all round solid court player, probably a couple of tournaments away from her very best. However, she started Dubai around 66/1 to win and go to the semi’s. That is the character she is.
Victoria Azarenka - 10/1 at Bet365
Unpredictable and genius all in one. The tall Belarusian really needs a big year here, and again had the draw open up in front of her with Zvonareva going out of Dubai, but again couldn’t find the consistency to produce her A game when needed. Incredibly talented but doesn’t put it all together for enough of the time on court. Still, a fiery competitor with a mentality and temper that can beat herself up, and in a tricky quarter of the draw along with Zvonareva. Could rise to the challenge, and she is always worth taking as an outside bet, because on her day, she can beat the best easily. Really needs to stand up and shine in a tournament in 2011 though, quickly. Could this be the one? The type of player who can come from nowhere and surprise the field.
Shahar Peer - 33/1 at Bet365
Rapidly becoming one of the favourite outside tips here. The Israeli star could come on leaps and bounds this year, and reached the quarter finals in Dubai last week, so in good form. This is a tough, tough tournament though, and she has been lumped against Kuznetsova in the first round (though Peer should have the edge in stamina). In the toughest quarter of the draw though and in a pack of outside bets from which, any one of them could stand out and make a mark. Flavia Pennetta (16/1 at Boylesports) is looking in extremely fine form at the moment, reaching the semi’s in Dubai, and the Italian is a class act. Kaia Kanepi (28/1 at Boylesports) is one of the rising stars of the game as well, and has enjoyed a great 2011 including a Tour title, and a victory over Wozniacki.
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship Betting Tip: Really, really tough field to call. As far as rankings, would give the edge to Zvonareva, especially at a price of 5/1. There are potential grinders who Wozniacki could face in a tough half of the draw, and oust her. Na Li looks to have a decent draw to make an impact, but Victoria Azarenka could just find the right time to come good, priced at around 12/1 which could be a little long looking at the draw, so worth taking. Incredible field on display, and fatigue will come into effect for many after long matches in Dubai last week.
Great WTA tennis tournament out in Dubai to be following this week, as the bulk of the top women stars are out in force. The best of the action is not going to start until the second round, as there have been plenty of byes handed out to the top seeds. Defending Champion Venus Williams is not in attendance, as she is still out through injury, but eight of the top ten in the world are in attendance. Plenty of great tennis betting opportunities around for you to enjoy this week, and don’t just look for outrights on matches, really take some time to explore live in play betting, as it works very well for tennis. Bet365 have one of the best live in play betting portals around, and they also show live streams of tennis. You can catch free live streaming from the WTA Dubai this week at Bet365. They are well worth exploring and taking a look at for your betting. When you do, new windows of opportunity open up to you, such as set betting, which is always great for picking up little profits, as well as match points themselves. So, onto the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Champions tournament, it will be an action packed week, almost like a mini Grand Slam really, and there is a lot of importance in terms of Tour points to be picked up here. Here we will take a look at the front runners and assess the tennis betting potential in our preview.
Caroline Wozniacki - 7/2 at BetFred
How will the Danish starlet respond? It hasn’t been a great 2011 so far for her, losing in the semi final of the Australian Open after going in as World Number One, and then losing her Number One ranking to Kim Clijsters on the weekend. Has she got another level in the tank? Another gear to slip into. To be honest, while she is a great percentage, high consistency player, it doesn’t look as if she really has that top gear to be a great Grand Slam champion. She is very good at her game, great defensive work and ability to simply grind opponents down. The odd thing about her, and why there was added criticism of her being World Number One and not having won a Grand Slam, is that she has no big weapon. She has no big shot to call upon, no big favourite area of the court to go to when it is needed. Fantastic all round player, and if she had either of those things she would be better. Tricky quarter for Wozniacki going in here, as the improving Shahar Peer is in the mix in her quarter. A semi final appearance would likely put her up against Sam Stosur or Jelena Jankovic. Still a strong bet for a winner here.
Vera Zvonareva - 5/1 at Stan James
The World Number three, is another player who is much improved. She has much more mental stamina and control about her than she did twelve months or more ago. She is becoming an ever more dangerous player, but like Wozniacki, there is just something lacking from her game. Has a great reach, great movement and is a bit more of a punisher than Wozniacki. However, still hasn’t been able to reach the higher echelons of the WTA by picking up a Slam, despite reaching two finals last year. You wonder if there is that quality to go one better. She could have a good run here, although there is the potential of a massive quarter final clash against Victoria Azarenka. Zvonareva is seed second for the tournament, and is in with a decent chance, however, you look at her and wonder if she really is a winner when it comes to the major tournaments. There’s no Clijsters and no Williams sisters of course here, so this is the next level where she has the potential to shine. Not a bad draw, and will probably be in the semi’s. Lost in the semi in Pattaya to Daniela Hantuchova on Saturday, so will want to bounce back. Probably has the confidence to go all the way, but it won’t be a smooth passage.
Francesca Schiavone - 25/1 at Bet365
You may remember her incredible battling qualities at the Australian Open against Caroline Wozniacki. She won herself a lot of fans there, and last year’s French Open winner is a really scrappy player. Ranked third for the tournament and up to fourth in the world, however, she doesn’t really have the big game here. There are much better players in the draw than here, but what is in her favour, is that she has landed a decent draw by being in the top four seeds. She has a nice quarter of the draw, which should put her in the quarter finals. Likely opponent there will be Agnieszka Radwanska, and in the same half of the draw as Zvonareva. Just do not see her having enough to go all of the way, although realistically you would expect to see her around the quarter final stage. An outsider at best, who can raise her game. Unlikely winner.
Sam Stosur - 33/1 at BetFred
Will make for a good tip here, largely helped along by draw. She disappointed her home fans at the Australian Open when she crashed out to Kvitova, but this is the sort of tournament which you would expect to see her winning. A tenacious player, solid all round the court, and pretty reliable when coming from behind. The draw has been kind to her here as she is in the same quarter as Jelena Jankovic who is struggling for a bit of form. Sam Stosur has a good game, and she should breeze through to the quarter finals. Really makes for one of the better outside shots, as she has a lot to prove to herself. Lost to Schiavone again (as she did in the final of the French Open) at a Federation Cup match over a week ago. Has to get better and remains a strong outside bet.
Na Li - 8/1 at BetFred
Australian Open finalist, who beat Wozniacki in the semi’s but couldn’t take out Clijsters in the final. Li is a massive hitter, and looks to be quite the confidence player. She needs to get her rhythm going to let momentum carry her through matches. Shot selection is not always top drawer, but a great professional to watch, and she has gained a lot of fans and respect from her Grand Slam efforts. Now she has the job of living up to expectations in tournaments like this, and could set up a great rematch against Wozniacki in the quarter finals here. Tough to match what she achieved in Melbourne, and will probably be on the periphery of things, although has had a great start to the year. Can she keep it going?
Jelena Jankovic - 40/1 at Bet365
Too unpredictable at the moment to know what is going to come from her. Fully fit and match sharp, she is a world beater, but her injury last year really knocked her back. Didn’t look herself at the Australian Open and will still be working her way back into the swing of things. It takes just as much time to get back match sharpness as it does to get over injury in the first place. A quarter final appearance would be a solid performance from her here, and she is a great player, but maybe not back to her best just yet. Was a finalist here in 2005, so has history. Risky outside bet until she gets better, still at this far out, worth an each way bet maybe.
Victoria Azarenka - 9/1 at Bet365
It is always hard to ignore the Belarusian when it comes to tournaments. When you are looking for an outside bet, you usually fall upon her. Fantastic player. Tenacious and full of firepower, the one thing she lacks is consistency. Can destroy the best and then fall at the most unlikeliest of moments. Still, this always puts her at a great price, and in the quarter along with Vera Zvonareva, has the ability to win her half of the draw to be honest. Hit and miss whether she will or not, always, always worth a punt.
Best of the rest. Agnieszka Radwanska (25/1 at Bet365) looked to be getting back to top form at the Australian Open and could be a surprise package here. She is in Schiavone’s quarter and is well capable of beating her. Shahar Peer (18/1 at Victor Chandler) is another rising star to take notice of. The Israeli star has great potential and should meet Na Li in the third round, which could be a great battle. Not going to win this, but could go well. Could be a battle of the Russians in the third round, with Alisa Kleybanova (33/1 at Bet365) meeting Zvonareva. That is a great prospect, as Kleybanova can raise her game and cause a threat.
Day Eight of the Australian Open, and the action really is begging to wind up. We’ve lost Sharapova and Azarenka, while Francesca Schiavone fought out and epic with Svetlana Kuznetsova yesterday. That was all for places in the quarter finals, and the second half of the draw battles it out today to try and join the likes of Schiavone and Wozniacki there. This means that we have some interesting battles about to resume in Melbourne, starting with tournament favourite Kim Clijsters. She is going so strongly, even though she found her third round match a bit trying, as she had to dig a little deeper to get past Alize Cornet, in match which was a bit tighter than expected. That’s nothing much to worry about really, because players are going to have their off days, and no-one is perfect all of the time, unless your name is Rafael Nadal. Next up for Clijsters on her quest to win her first Australian Open, is Ekaterina Makarova. Makarova is a player who will run down every point and make Clijsters work hard, but she will be a strong underdog. Makarova knocked out 13th seed Nadia Petrova in the third round, and after winning her first tour tournament last year, is on the rise. However, was watching her against Petrova, and really doesn’t look as if she has the all round game to out punch Clijsters over the course of a match. Clijsters is just to quick and powerful around the court, and as long as she has that bounce in her step, then the Belgian star will win through to the quarter finals as expected .
Petra Kvitova v Flavia Pennetta makes for an interesting match. Ever since her arrival in the semi finals of Wimbledon last year, there has been a rising interest in Kvitova. The 28th ranked left hander from the Czech Republic, who has only been a pro for just over four years, is really coming along nicely. As hinted, previously on these pages, was the likely player to cause a big upset in the third round, and she did, silencing the home fans by knocking out Aussie star Sam Stosur in straight sets. Is she going to win the tournament? No, but she has every chance of making it to the quarter finals here against Pennetta. The Italian is a bit of surprise contestant in the fourth round, and that is because she looked down and out in the third round against the future potential star of Israel’s Shahar Peer. Pennetta looked to be fighting a lost cause in the first set, losing it 6-3 with Peer looking to be motoring. She held on through a tie break in the second and then ran out 6-4 winner in the third set. It really was a commendable effort from the Italian, which wasn’t watched here as Peer looked so much in control after the first set, that the doubles pairing of Azarenka & Kirilenko looked much more interesting.
Agnieszka Radwanska v Shuai Peng is a bit of an unpredictable one to call. Radwanska looks a mixed bag of talent and poor shot selection at times, but is an enjoyable player to watch. With the demise of Jelena Jankovic and Victoria Azarenka, the dark horse label must fall on the shoulders of Radwanska. She is progressing really without any fuss or bother or hype surrounding her, that’s because no-one is expecting her to win the tournament. Here’s the thing with her, she has looked as if she has lacked a bit of belief in her game, especially in the two opening rounds, but she really looked to have grown in stature in the third when she thumped Simona Halep (in a match which was presumed to be going to play out as a close one), dropping only three games along the way. What of her opponent Shuai Peng? Don’t know a great deal about her to be honest, but the Asian players seeming to be getting a stronger foothold in the game, with the likes of Na Li and Jie Zheng reaching the semi’s here last year. Peng did knock out Jelena Jankovic (7th seed) in a previous round and that is why she is here. If Radwanska is on top her game and on top of herself, then the Polish star will win. Peng looks like one of those dogged players who will just not give up, but Radwanska (ranked 12th) should win here and set up a tasty quarter final against Kim Clijsters.
In the fourth women’s singles of the day, we get to see number two seed Vera Zvonareva take on Iveta Benesova. After starting the draw strongly, Zvonareva had a bit of struggle in the second round when she dropped the first set against promising youngster Bojana Jovanovski. She looked stronger in her first set against Lucie Safarova in the third round, but was made to work very hard in the third, taking it on a tie break in the end. Zvonareva is still hit and miss really as far as the title goes, and because of the fact that she would meet Kim Clijsters in the semi finals of her half of the draw, the player who thumped her in the final of the US Open late last year, you would back Clijsters over the Russian. But Zvonareva is improving and is looking a little more mature in her tactical approach to the game. Good mover around the court, and drives her shots well to the baseline, however, may just be lacking that world class edge to take her all the way. She has to be behind Wozniacki and Clijsters in the front running. Zvonareva takes on Benesova, who has knocked out two seeds along the way. Firstly she deposed Maria Kirilenko in the second round ,before taking out dark horse Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in an enduring match. Benesova has never made it past the third round of a Grand Slam, so this is new territory for her. Really shouldn’t be beating Zvonareva here, don’t fully see an upset happening, so would look for Clijsters, Zvonareva, Radwanska and perhaps Kvitova to move through today.
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The women’s draw at the Grand Slam is just as exciting as ever, and is far more open than the men’s side of the tournament. The Australian Open is serving up a treat at the moment, with seeds such as Jelena Jankovic and Justine Henin heading for the exit already. So what does Day Six have in store for us, as the third round of the Women’s Australian Open continues. First of all, and starting off the day at the Rod Laver Arena, is number two seed Vera Zvonareva, who takes on Lucie Safarova (ranked 31st). Must admit, that Zvonareva (12/1 at Paddy Power) has looked very good at times, probably better than she did when she got to the final of Wimbledon and the US Open last year. She was helped on both occasions by very favourable draws, but now she is having to work to keep up her status as the world number two. There is a tougher mental edge to her really, and that was needed as she lost the opening set of her second round match. But, in true quality, she dug deep and wasn’t overwhelmed. It was a scare and if there was any thought of her having an easy ride in Melbourne, that would have woken her up. It’ll be interesting to see how the Russian responds now, as Lucie Safarova isn’t going to be going away lightly. Safarova hasn’t really made any impact at all at Grand Slams in her career, but is looking ok in Melbourne. The two players haven’t met before, so that can sometimes throw stronger players off their game. Should Zvonareva win. Yes, hands down, and really you want to see her do it in straight sets. Safarova will dig in there, pushing Zvonareva most likely. Could be a good one to start the day.
After Andy Murray plays at the Rod Laver Arena, onto the court will step third seed Kim Clijsters. One thing about the Belgian, who is the top tip here, is that not only does she look in incredible shape, but she is really relaxed and enjoying her game. It is as if she really has not got anything to prove, and realistically she hasn’t because she is a Grand Slam champion. But she continues to excel with her all round game, which combines power, with almost perfect shot selection and court movement. She plays Alize Cornet, unseeded, from France and this really should amount to nothing more than a good warm up match for the fourth round for Kim Clijsters (6/4 favourite at Stan James). She is strong, rightly instilled as outright favourite. Even if she runs into Wozniacki (7/1 at Stan James) along the way, you really have a hard time seeing the World Number one taking out Clijsters at the moment. Clijsters is in cruise control. Aussie Samantha Stosur (ranked 5th) continues her steady progress through the tournament. There’s a good feeling about Sam Stosur (12/1 at BetFred) here, and she has got something of a favourable draw. You always see her at the Grand Slams and then move on, never really expecting her to be enough of a threat to win. She has the backing of the home support and that will put an extra step in her game, it has too. She is the big Australian hope and is moving well. Down to earth and hard working, she could well be making a deeper impression than thought come next week. She faces Petra Kvitova on Day Six, and the 25th seed makes for an interesting opponent. The only time they have met on Tour, was when Kvitova destroyed Stosur 6-2 6-1 at the French Open in 2008. Stosur is a much better player than then (she was ranked 149th when that match happened), and should grind her way through this one. Kvitova has good form though, winning in Brisbane ahead of the Australian Open (beating Cibulkova, Pavlyuchenkova and Petkovic along the way). If there’s going to be a major upset in the women’s draw on Day Six, could be here.
Speaking of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (16th seed), she takes on Iveta Benesova as well on Day Six. Like Pavlyuchenkova, a player who is getting better all the time. Dark horse though, nothing more. Far more interesting is the Flavia Pennetta (22nd) v Shahar Peer (10th) match. Pennetta is really moving well and playing some good confident tennis at the moment, but then you look at Peer and see how much of an improved player she has become. She has won the last two matches against Pennetta (both last year) and can be expected to move through. This should be quite a challenging and close match, but would lean towards the more youthful Peer as she continues to shine and raise her expectations. One more match just wanted to mention, which will get lost amongst the others from above, and that is Simona Halep v Agnieszka Radwanska. This is interesting simply because of Radwanska. She is a good solid player, but just seems to fall short of that threshold of being a great player. Watched her through this tournament and she still looks to be searching for full confidence with her shot selection (if you’re wondering which she is, then she was the player who had the head of her racquet fly off - her look was priceless if you haven’t seen it). Been helped out in the draw a bit with Jankovic going out, and she is an interesting outsider to watch. Tough match against Halep, another promising youngster, who dumped dark hose Alisa Kleybanova out in straight sets in the second round. Should be a good match as well!
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Some great line ups for Day Five at the Australian Open in the women’s draw as we look ahead. Both Brits, Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong have now fallen by the wayside, and Kim Clijsters is just looking unstoppable at the moment. Of course it is early days yet, but she is looking the strongest out of the favourites so far. While she and Caroline Wozniacki will remain favourites, there has already been a major seed fall by the wayside, as 7th seed Jelena Jankovic crashed out in the second round. Normally she is one of the best movers, and has a fierce backhand, but she just couldn’t pull it all together. She didn’t look fully confident to be honest, and was really hesitant to go and attack, and she paid the price. Vera Zvonareva (2nd seed) was blitzed in the first set 6-2 by Bojana Jovanovski. Zvonareva bounced back with relative ease though, and is looking more of a threat than really first thought. With Clijsters in the third round already, it is world number one Caroline Wozniacki’s time kick off the action there. She goes in the glamour match against Dominika Cibulkova who is ranked 29th in the world, and could be an interesting test for the Danish starlet. Cibulkova reached the quarter finals of the US Open late last year, her best effort in any Slam since first entering in 2007. Good, exciting young talent, but Wozniacki has looked pretty sharp though, and still sitting in cruise control. You have to back her to get through, but the challenges will start getting much stiffer from here on out.
Victoria Azarenka faces the awesomely named Chanelle Scheeper in the third round, as the Belarusian continues her challenge. Azarenka really has to be pencilled in as one of the most dangerous outside bets to take the title. She should get better and better as the tournament goes on, if she hold her mental game together through these early rounds, matches which she should win with relative ease. There’s a decent path ahead for the number 8 seed and is well worth a look. Elena Baltacha’s conqueror Justine Henin will have a tougher time against Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 23rd seed. Kuznetsova has been a Quarter Finalist a couple of times in Melbourne, and is a two times Grand Slam Champion. Hasn’t really been at her world beating best for some time now, certainly struggled through 2010, so this marks a big challenge for her, and Henin. Justine Henin is one of the favourites for the title, and with her class showing clearly above her early round opponents, it has been hard to judge how far she may go. This is an important one to watch for her progress.
Seriously. What was Venus Williams wearing in her second round match against Sandra Zahlavova? Well the 4th seed got herself caught up in one of the strangest games of the tournament so far. She lost the first set, looked as if she was going to retire because of injury, was barely mobile for the rest of the match, but somehow still won. That is the determination and grit of a champion, but Zahlavova really blew it to be honest, she had a big chance, but made serious errors letting Williams off the hook in the second match, before being totally overwhelmed in the third. Odd match, very loud with the screams of pain from Williams, boisterous grunts from Zahlavova, oh and that dress. This injury could affect her Grand Slam chances of course, but she is going to soldier on. She plays Andrea Petkovic, who really should have been beaten by Britain’s Anne Keothavong, but the Brit really blew her chance. A fit Williams would probably walk this, but if she gets into the situation she did against Zahlavova, Petkovic (ranked 30th) may just have that extra edge of fitness and quality to punish her. Fascinating match up.
Latest Outright Odds
Kim Clijsters: 13/8 at BetFred
Justine Henin: 5/1 at Blue Square
Caroline Wozniacki: 7/1 at Paddy Power
Vera Zvonareva: 10/1 at Paddy Power
Samantha Stosur: 14/1 at 888Sport
Victoria Azarenka: 14/1 at Stan James
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