Tuesday, June 14, 2011



Some very interesting match ups at this early stage of the tournament and I would like to briefly talk about four of them....

Going to start with Kaia Kanepi verses Francesca Schiavone, grass is not really the italian's surface, she is just about 50-50 lifetime on grass and lost in the first round at both Eastbourne and Wimbledon last year to Cirstea and Dushevina taking just one set in the process. Both are inferior to the tall big serving estonian on the surface and with Schiavone once again coming here after another emotional roller coaster ride at Roland Garros and a very tough fortnight and with no ranking points to defend, in what is a low ranking warm up event, for a tournament she probably feels she has no chance in, quite why the french finalist has been made favourite is something of a mystery. Kanepi won 12 matches on grass last year winning through qualifying at both Birmingham and Wimbledon, losing in the quarter finals in each, she has recently changed coach and is I understand very comfortable with the new arrangement and feels her game has improved. Schiavone holds a 3-1 lifetime h2h lead, but they have never met on the surface and the only recent meeting which game on a fast indoor court, went the distance and to 34 tough games, there should be plenty of "free" service points on offer for Kanepi, who was bombing them down in the early rounds of Roland Garros and all in all she is much better suited to playing on the green stuff.

1.5 units Kaia Kanepi to win 2.10 +

Serena Williams makes her return today and faces Tsvetana Pironkova. Williams has not played since winning Wimbledon last year and is bound to be a little rusty after 12 months at home, her sister also made her long awaited comeback yersterday and took three long sets to dispose of Andrea Petkovic and Venus had "only" been out since January. A fit Serena would blow the bulgarian off court, but might want to ease herself in and play a few games today, the weather forecast is nice and sunny and conditions should be perfect down in Eastbourne. Pironkova is having a terrible year ( 4-16), but made the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year, beating Venus and Bartoli two of the strongest players on tour on grass, both in straight sets enroute and gave up just a combined seven break points in the process, earning 24 herself, with Tsvetana serving at a similar speed and level to Venus which is just about as good as it gets. Obviously she is no mug on the surface and will never get a better opportunity to push possibly the greatest player of all time, definitely the best ever athlete on tour."Over" games look to have been priced pretty low to me.

1.5 units "Over" 20 games 1.90 +

I was terribly impressed with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at Roland Garros, she looks a certain future Grand Slam winner in waiting, whether that will come on grass I do not know, but we will know more after this week and I would love to watch her game with qualifier Bojana Jovanovski this afternoon. The young Serbian will be battle hardened with three rounds of qualification under her belt and should give the ultra talented AP a good run out.

Lucie Safarova must be unhappy to be facing Marion Bartoli at this early stage, the frenchwoman was thrilled by her surprise run to the semi finals in Paris and was originally treating her national open as more of a warm up event for the grass court season, her highlight of the year. Safarova rarely comes to the UK and is 4-7 here on grass, with only one victory of note and that coming against a very young Pavlyuchenkova who is still only 19 btw. Only danger for Bartoli is that her extended run at Roland Garros might have held up her preparation for grass, so I would not rush to take 1.35, but she really ought to win this.

All in all a fine day's action and a lot to learn, hopefully it will be possible to watch most of these and I will try to update my notes tomorrow.

Good Luck.

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