Caroline Garcia v Katerina Siniakova
Many have openly tipped Caroline Garcia as being able to go to the very top of the Women’s game, but she has yet to begin to fulfil that potential. There is so much to like about the Garcia game, but I think she should be a lot higher than Number 32 in the World Rankings which highlights some of the inconsistencies that still blight her game.
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You would think the grass courts would suit the Frenchwoman with the big first serve Garcia possesses and she is also capable of getting to the net and also dictating from behind the baseline. She did put that all together in winning the title in Mallorca a couple of weeks ago and Garcia had an impressive First Round win which should give her confidence to take into the Second Round.
Katerina Siniakova is outside the top 100 in the World Rankings and she hasn’t spent a lot of time in main Tour matches this season. She is a danger to Garcia if she is not on top form as Siniakova has had some solid results on the grass in the last couple of years.
It will need a big serving day from Garcia to make sure she doesn’t offer any encouragement to a player she should be beating at this stage of her career. I can see some tough moments for Garcia, but I do think she will see of Siniakova 75, 63 in this one.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Caroline Garcia -4.5 Games @ 2.0 with Bet365
Timea Babos v Coco Vandeweghe
Anyone who has read these picks on a regular basis will know I am a fan of Timea Babos and find that she is a little under-rated on a fairly regularly. The 23 year old is a solid Doubles player, but she has begun to turn things on as a Singles player and is likely one or two really big wins away from making a significant climb up the World Rankings.
A big serve is backed up by some heavy groundstrokes, although I would be looking for an improvement on the return of serve to really give Babos a boost. She will need all her weaponry in this Second Round match against Coco Vandeweghe who reached the Quarter Final at Wimbledon last season.
Vandeweghe is a dangerous player on the grass with a huge serve backed up by a big forehand and that allows her to have a ‘free shot’ at every return game she sees. The backhand remains a weakness, but Vandeweghe can hide that on the grass courts and this is a match in which the first strike is going to be very important for both players.
I can understand why Vandeweghe is the favourite considering her Quarter Final run last year at SW19 and the dominant way she breezed through the draw to win the title in Hertogenbosch earlier this month. She looked strong again in Birmingham, but I expect Babos to test her after pushing Madison Keys and Petra Kvitova in competitive losses.
Both Keys and Kvitova are amongst the favourites to win at Wimbledon with their styles of play and I think Babos will use those experiences to make these games count against Vandeweghe. This will be a big hitting match that the spectators can enjoy and I will look for the underdog to keep it competitive.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Timea Babos +3.5 Games @ 1.76 with Unibet
Johanna Konta v Eugenie Bouchard
It is not too often that a former Wimbledon Finalist would be an underdog against a British female player in a Grand Slam tournament, but that is what we see on Thursday. I can’t say I blame the layers as Eugenie Bouchard has been inconsistent since her breakthrough year on the Tour in 2014 when she reached that Wimbledon Final.
Full credit needs to be given to Johanna Konta who has had a memorable twelve months and then produced a strong performance to beat Monica Puig in the First Round at Wimbledon. That has broken her duck in the tournament and Konta has played so well at the US Open and the Australian Open in the last twelve months which suggests she can handle the pressure of playing in front of her home crowd.
The way she dealt with Puig has to inspire confidence and Bouchard has had an inconsistent grass court season which suggests she is still trying to find her ‘A’ game on the court. Her serve will be attacked by Konta and it is hard to ignore the fact that Bouchard is 5-7 in grass court matches since the Wimbledon Final of 2014.
Konta certainly looks to have the stronger serve and I think she has shown more mental strength than Bouchard over the last few months. Even if she goes down a break, Konta won’t feel out of the match, while Bouchard could quickly see sets and then the match disappear from her control. Winning back to back matches hasn’t been the Bouchard strength this season and I think Konta will show how much she has improved by beating this former Finalist in three sets, 63, 46, 64.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Johanna Konta -2.5 Games @ 1.79 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing