FRESH from his stunning 10/1 double on the Quarter-Finals, Mark Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe) looks at Thursday's Women's Semi-Finals.
Simona Halep v Flavia Pennetta | Friday 16:00 | Sky Sports 1
Wednesday's two quarter-final victors meet in the second of Thursday's semi-finals. It was a determined display by Flavia Pennetta to manage to stay with Petra Kvitova despite the latter outhitting the Italian at times. But as correctly predicted Kvitova wilted in the humid conditions and Pennetta was able to hold her nerve to see the match out.
Despite Petra providing the big hitting (41 winners), I was impressed Flavia didn't get frustrated and impressively kept her winner – unforced errors ratio positive (21 – 16) with a massive 60 errors coming off the Kvitova racket.
What a performance by world number two Simona Halep. She hit a brilliant 40 winners past two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka making just 19 errors. And the match might have been over sooner had she managed to convert more than the six of the 19 break point opportunities created, although credit must be given to how Azarenka played on the majority of those.
This will be the fifth meeting between these two with the head-to-head perhaps surprisingly standing 3-1 to Pennetta. However, the first two meetings were pre-world-number-two Halep's current level, and since then it's been a win-a-piece on the American hard courts including this year in Miami where Halep prevailed 6-3 7-5.
Simona has now won an impressive 37 of 41 hard court matches this year (90%) in-comparison to Pennetta's 16 of 25 (64%), so it's not surprising to see Halep as short favourite.
An angle I'm keen to explore for some value is the semi to play out the same way as their quarter-finals with it going the distance and Simona coming through. 15 of Halep's last 28 hard court matches have been three sets (54%) and 12 of Pennetta's last 24 have also breached the two set mark (50%).
Given Simona is best priced 1/3, this looks an excellent way to get with her at 16/5. Let's not forget Pennetta has now beaten all of Angelique Kerber, Sam Stosur, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and of course Petra Kvitova all on hard courts this year so the match looks closer than the odds suggest.
Simona Halep v Flavia Pennetta – Halep to win 2-1 (16/5 William Hill)