TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) returns with his best bets from this week’s WTA Hertogenbosch Open.
WTA Hertogenbosch | 12th-18th June 2017 | Eurosport
Jelena Ostapenko guaranteed our readers a profitable Roland Garros with her extraordinary performance at Roland Garros. My column suggested that she had a chance to win her quarter, which she did at 14/1, but the young Latvian would go even further by going on to win the French Open outright.
Meanwhile, the tour moves on and the grass courts of s’Hertogenbosch provide the first stop on the way to SW19. Ostapenko was scheduled to play here this week, but understandably she has withdrawn following her Parisian fairytale.
The WTA event is played on the same courts used by the men’s tour, which is also playing this week. I have drafted some thoughts about the runners and riders there this week. As is the case in the ATP draw, it is worth looking to side with a grass court specialist, and nobody fits the bill better than two-time champion Coco Vandeweghe.
Using my quarter-by-quarter approach I will demonstrate where the value lies, and why Coco is the worthwhile favourite this week.
Dominika Cibulkova arrives in Rosmalen in need of plenty of match practice as her clay court efforts were scuppered through injury in the early part of the campaign. The Slovakian is a serious player on the grass and will be hopeful of a good week. It would not surprise me to see her go well but I am put off her for two reasons.
Whilst it was possible to predict Ons Jabeur having a puncher’s chance at ousting Cibulkova from the second round of the French Open, it was still a poor defeat and follows hotly on the heels of several weeks of underperformance, which even though the surface is not to her best taste is still a disappointment and speaks to her poor current level.
The second reason is her course form. Cibulkova has appeared here three times, each time as a high ranked seed, and has lost before her seeding. It suggests either a lack of motivation, or a potential dislike of the playing conditions.
The Slovakian is statistically the strongest grass courter in her quarter, but she could fall if not in the mood, and there are a couple of hazards before her.
The most obvious hurdle in the early rounds is Evgeniya Rodina, who can play on the grass and made the quarterfinal here last year. But, the Russian is a limited player and if she is set to face Cibulkova it would require a big underperformance from the top seed for Rodina to win.
A more credible option to oppose Cibulkova is the streaky Ana Konjuh, a title winner on grass in recent years but unreliable as her performance stats in 2016 highlight. Konjuh was another to suffer a poor early defeat in Roland Garros, but a big performance is always around the corner for her.
She potentially has as much chance to come through this section as Cibulkova does but the 12/1 outright is not enough to tempt me.
Kiki Bertens was tipped by several high profile commentators and tipsters as being the player to beat in Roland Garros but the Netherlander had a poor defeat to Catherine Bellis in the Round of 64.
Bertens is back in her homeland this week but is better suited to clay than grass. Part of the reason for Bertens early French Open defeat can be credited to the intense three weeks prior to the French Open. It would not surprise me if the home girl is ready for a rest.
Andrea Petkovic is a high profile first round opponent for Bertens and is certainly capable of playing good tennis, even if she has not done so in quite a while. The former top ten player is having a poor 12 months and is not at her best on grass.
The dangerous Yaroslava Shvedova finds herself unseeded in this quarter and won’t surely be daunted by the weak names surrounding her. Shvedova is a serious grass court player as two quarterfinals in the past three years here demonstrate.
Shvedova has only won three of her past ten matches but she has been competitive during that run and will be heartened by a return to favourable conditions. The Kazakh is a tempting 18/1 outright.
This is the quarter of Vandeweghe, and it contains plenty of difficult players who had they been positioned in another quarter I would consider making a deep run.
Camila Giorgi is the 2015 champion, but at that time she was playing a consistently better level of tennis than she is now and I don’t believe that she is in title contention this week.
The quickly improving Annett Kontaveit and Kristyna Pliskova are positioned next to each other in a first round clash. The Estonian in particular is a player I am very high on, and is starting to find consistently strong results.
Her grass court record is strong and she will surely have some big results on this surface in the future. However, Vandeweghe is the proven option and I can not select Kontaveit over her at this time.
Vandeweghe not only has the pedigree, but has also improved across the board this season. The cocky American, of Flemish descent, marked her obvious upgrade with a notable semifinal result at the Australian Open and even a deep run on the clay courts of Madrid.
Coco lives for the grass court season and surely must believe that winning Wimbledon is not an unrealistic proposition. This week she has added former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash to her coaching team – a serious message of intent.
There would be no better preparation than winning s’Hertogenbosch for the third time. Vandeweghe’s performance numbers on this surface far exceed those of any other player in the draw, and despite the stacked draw Vandeweghe deserves her standing as a meaty 5/1 (Betfred) favourite.
The bottom quarter contains Kristina Mladenovic fresh, or perhaps not so fresh, off a gruelling couple of months on the clay. It is credit to the Frenchwoman that she performed consistently well, but having played so hard she is overdue a break by now.
Mladenovic will likely see Wimbledon as another realistic opportunity to go deep in a major event, but she surely won’t have the mental freshness necessary to overcome Vandeweghe should they meet as scheduled in the semi finals.
Defeats earlier on Monday for both Elise Mertens and Jelena Jankovic provide the opportunity for somebody to take advantage of a potentially fatigued Mladenovic but my numbers don’t suitably pick a needle in the haystack to do so.
WTA Hertogenbosch – Coco Vandeweghe to win outright (5/1 Betfred)