MARK Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe) is eyeing up the outsiders this Wednesday at the US Open.
Petra Kvitova v Flavia Pennetta | Wednesday 16:00 | Sky Interactive
I make no qualms in taking on Petra Kvitova again here, especially at this price. I was disappointed the way the match played out on Monday against Johanna Konta.
Konta had five break points in the 1st set and failed to take any of them before a crucial 12th game, where up to that point, she had won 20 of 24 points behind her serve before the pressure seemed to succumb and she double faulted on set point to hand the set to Kvitova.
A similar story in the 2nd set unfolded with Konta handing over the break again with a double fault on Petra's only break point. I do think it could have been different had Konta managed to take one of those break points in the 1st set.
Alas, onto today's match where these two are first up on Ashe at 11am local time with the weather set to be slightly cooler and the humidity at 67%. I won't go over Kvitova's issues with the humid conditions and her poor record here again.
This will be the 7th meeting between these two with the head-to head standing at 3-3, 2-2 on hard courts, 1-0 Pennetta on American hard. In contrast to Petra, Pennetta seems to love it here.
2013 semi-finalist, she has made the quarters or better five of the last six years including beating both Halep and Sharapova. She's also enjoyed wins over Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova again this year on the American hard courts of Miami and Indian Wells.
Flavia is through to the semi-finals of the Women's doubles with fellow Italian Sara Errani, so I think it's fair to say she's playing well. I know it's going back a bit but in their last hard court meeting at the Australian Open in the 4th round in 2011 Pennetta was 6/4. I just think 13/5 is too big given Kvitova's previous struggles here and Pennetta's course form.
Victoria Azarenka v Simona Halep | Wednesday 17:30 | Sky Interactive
This match looks to be priced up on Azarenka twice making the final here and her 2-0 head-to-head record against world number 2 Simona Halep. However, if we look at their two records this year, Halep has won 36 of her 40 hard court matches (90%) whereas Azarenka has won 18 of her 25 played (72%).
I think we can put the head-to-head to one side too given Halep's playing level being this high since 2013 (both meetings in 2012). Halep had her thigh strapped mid-way through the match against Lisicki but I don't think it's too much to worry about with no mention of it in her post-match press conference.
Azarenka's left-thigh is strapped too and we already know the pain was too much in her previous tournament in Cincinnati where she had to retire against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova barely able to move.
Azarenka has struggled to maintain her top form this year since her injury lay-offs in 2014. She has made the quarter-final or further in just four of her thirteen tournaments, is a negative 5-7 against the top 10 (four wins against Wozniacki) and has lost at this price or shorter six times.
At this stage last year Ekaterina Makarova beat her comfortably 6-4 6-2 and I think this might be a step too far based on her form this year. With Halep's superb 90% hard court win rate and Azarenka's negative record against the top 10, 2/1 Simona looks far too big.
Petra Kvitova v Flavia Pennetta – Pennetta to win (13/5 10Bet)
Victoria Azarenka v Simona Halep – Halep to win (2/1 Sportingbet)