Petra Kvitova v Monica Puig
There can’t be too many players in better form than Monica Puig at the moment, who has breezed through the Olympic draw to ensure she will be competing for a Medal on Saturday. Whether that is the Gold or the Bronze is yet to be determined, but Puig has made it clear how much she is thriving playing for her country this week.
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It follows a run to the Semi Final in Florianopolis last week and my concern for Puig is at what point does all of the tennis begin to affect her game? I think she has been helped by breezing through the draw in the manner she has and Puig is yet to drop a set and only fourteen games in her four matches so far this week. Back to back 6-1, 6-1 wins in the Third Round and Quarter Final will only increase the confidence she is clearly feeling.
Furthermore, it is not as though Puig has faced poor players, with wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and the complete wipeout of Garbine Muguruza being the stand out results. However, she is going to be facing a very dangerous Petra Kvitova in the Semi Final, who has only dropped a single set herself, whilst notably only dropping two games to Serena Williams’ conquerer Elina Svitolina in the Quarter Final.
This is only the second Semi Final that Kvitova will be playing this season which might play a part in the match, but she has looked confident in her matches this week too. Kvitova can be erratic and hard to judge on a day by day basis, but I am giving her the edge with Grand Slam titles under her belt compared with Monica Puig, who is playing her biggest match of her career.
Puig doesn’t have the best record against top 20 opponents and I will look for Kvitova to use all of her experience to battle through to the Gold Medal match behind a 7-6, 6-4 win.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Petra Kvitova – 2.5 Games @ 1.83 with Pinnacle
Angelique Kerber v Madison Keys
It has already been a memorable 2016 season for Angelique Kerber but I don’t think that means she is going to be satisfied with what she has achieved so far. Winning the Australian Open Final and reaching the Wimbledon Final has given Kerber a new found confidence and she will believe she can go on and win the Gold Medal here in Rio.
Her Semi Final is going to be far from straight-forward against Madison Keys, who is beginning to reach the business end of tournaments more regularly. A lot of hype has surrounded Keys with her impressive serve and big hitting off the ground, but there is still room for improvement from the young American and some of her vulnerabilities can be attacked by Kerber.
I am still not convinced Keys has the consistency to beat someone as defensively strong as Kerber, a player that can quickly turn the tables on opponents. A ‘better version’ of Keys in Serena Williams has struggled in her matches with the German, who can get enough serves back in play and deep enough to prevent the quick strike tennis that both Serena and Keys will look to play.
This could easily be a breakthrough tournament for Keys if she can get past Kerber, but it has been a more difficult route through to the Semi Final for the American. Having to play one more ball than she is accustomed to, we are likely see Keys going for the lines a little more and that in turn leads to more unforced errors, while Kerber is good enough to go for plenty of winners of her own.
Kerber has a strong 4-1 head to head advantage over Keys, which includes a straight sets win over her in Miami back in March. The conditions might make it difficult for Keys to hit through Kerber consistently and I think the Aussie Open Champion will be playing in the Gold Medal game on Saturday behind a 6-4, 6-4 win.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Angelique Kerber – 2.5 Games @ 1.85 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.