Kiki Bertens v Anna Schmiedlova – WTA Luxembourg
Neither Kiki Bertens or Anna Schmiedlova will be pointing to any great form in the closing stages of 2016 as they battle each other for the right to reach the Quarter Final in Luxembourg. However this has been a season that Bertens will look back on much more fondly than Schmiedlova who has won just 5/27 matches on the main Tour a year after finishing 2015 with 37 match wins.
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Unsurprisingly Schmiedlova has dropped outside the top 100 of the World Rankings and the mental block of all those losses has seen her lose other matches from very strong winning positions. The win over Yanina Wickmayer was impressive, but Schmiedlova will have to raise her game again if Bertens has recovered some of the lost form of recent weeks.
Bertens had lost seven matches in a row before beating Annika Beck in the First Round and she has been a little overrated behind a very strong clay court season when she surpassed most expectations. I don’t think she has been fully healthy, which is a concern too, but she looked a little better in beating Beck in the First Round and the Dutchwoman will be Seeded going into the Australian Open in January.
Her record on the hard courts is a concern when backing her in this match, but I do think she is in a superior place mentally than Schmiedlova who probably wants to draw a line under the 2016 season. Bertens crushed her on the clay courts when they met earlier this season, but I anticipate this will be closer on the indoor hard courts, although ultimately I like Bertens to cover in a 75, 64 win after a few breaks of serve are shared out.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Kiki Bertens -3.5 Games @ 1.74 with 888 Sport
Jelena Jankovic v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – WTA Moscow
I have very little doubt that Jelena Jankovic is on the downward slope of her career and that has been highlighted by the fact she is likely to have her fewest wins on the Tour since 2003. The movement around the court is not as good as it used to be, but Jankovic has found some form over the last six weeks since the US Open and I think she can pose some problems for home favourite Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The season is coming to an end for Pavlyuchenkova and Jankovic, but the Russian should have plenty of motivation playing in Moscow where she has won the tournament in 2014 and then finished Runner Up in defence of that title in 2015.
I think that is part of the reason why she is considered such a strong favourite in this match because Pavlyuchenkova has not produced too many wins since the US Open. She did play well in Linz last week before coming up short in the Quarter Final and Pavlyuchenkova has the superior serve in this match that can provide some cheap points and keep Jankovic under pressure.
In the past it has been the movement of Jankovic and forcing Pavlyuchenkova to hit extra balls that has kept the former World Number 1 competitive in matches. While I do think she has lost that half a step around the court, the recent form suggests Jankovic can trouble Pavlyuchenkova again and perhaps make these games count in a tight match.
Since the US Open Jankovic has been much more competitive and I think she can steal a set which will make it difficult for Pavlyuchenkova to cover this number.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Jelena Jankovic +2.5 Games @ 2.02 with Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokerage
Prices correct at time of writing.