One of these teams is going to find themselves in the first league, while the winner of this two legged tie will be applying their trade in the Superliga. Silkeborg find themselves in this so called relegation battle because they could only finish 11/14 in this seasons top league, and they could only take five points from six matches in the recent play-offs. One excuse put forward for the hosts predicament is going all the way to the cup final (lost), but that comes over has a feeble excuse. Esbjerg finished second in this seasons first division and it should be noted that they proved more efficient on the road. For the record the visitors took 35 of their 60 points playing away, and it´s that which makes us believe they have a great chance in this two way tie. We also wanted to mention that SIF won their last meeting (3-0), but overall they have a very poor record against todays opponent. On that note the hosts won just one from their last nine against Esbjerg and 4 from 24. That compares to 6 and 13 from the road team!
For us the surface could be key. We believe 2016 French open quarter finalist Yulia Putintseva is at her best on clay, and she´s also got an excellent record in Nurnberg. In fact, the Moscow born 23 year old made the QF in two of the past three seasons, and in 2016 she had to come through three rounds of qualification and defy some big odds. Beating Sloane Stephens in the last round is very encouraging and a similar level should be enough to get past Alison Riske.
Nothing has changed with regards to our opinion of Samantha Stosur. By that we mean the 34 year old Australian is one dimensional has she very much relies upon her forehand topspin. We have also mentioned that she´s probably past her best. Nevertheless, she was still good enough to win this tournament last year, and she won yesterdays battle for Australian pride by beating Daria Gavrilova. Another stat that points us in the way of Stosur is her win record (5-1) against Dominika Cibulkova, and then their is the fact that Cibulkova is also playing well below her best. Whichever way you look at it, married life hasn´t had a positive impact on the Slovakians tennis. In any case it´s the head to head and 3-0 on clay (all two setters) which makes us believe Sam could go on to reclaim her trophy!
CALLIE DU MESNIL was only rated 56 in France, and she never won in six attempts for her then trainer Laurant Viel. It goes without saying that WP Mullins could improve the now six year old, albeit their is also a worry about the faster ground (bred and raced on deeper). While not running particularly well last time, we believe FIVEATMIDNIGHT is the one to beat. The ground should help her cause and so should the seven pound claim of her useful jockey. Several of the others appear exposed, so it´s all about Paddy Rothwell´s mare producing her form!
KASER was beaten at odds of 1/3 when finishing second at Newcastle. Some pundits seem to believe he´s been unlucky to bump into a few good ones. However, the fact is he was only half a length in front of a 69 rated filly, so maybe it would be unwise to forgive so easily. According to the betting TAMKEEN is about to improve, but according to figures he´s rated just 80. That suggests CROSSING THE LINE should be able to give him two pounds, especially now that she´s had a run and is moving up in trip!
Just five years old and going over fences for the first time suggests to us that SWORD OF FATE is a natural. While it´s probably fair to say that the son of Beneficial had become disappointing over hurdles, he´s been given plenty of time off and he´s with an in form stable. Another factor could be Tom Lacey´s gelding is proven on fast ground, so returning in spring could also give him another tick in the right box. Both FREE STONE HILL and COPPER FACE have had enough chances, and they come into this has beaten favs in their last race!
We haven´t been adding any free racing tips for a while now, and nor do we planning on doing many freebies in the future. The reason is lack of conversion into paying clients, and that´s despite showing massive profits for the past four years (on this platform). However, we thought we would blog up a couple today, so here is the first. MALTON ROSE is obviously hard to rate for the h´capper, and a mark of 135 is no gift. However, Nicky Henderson´s mare could be very smart, and nothing has got near her in two wins to date. Despite being by Milan the seven year old appears well suited by good ground, and stepping up in trip shouldn´t be an issue. While she´s not raced for nearly a year fitness shouldn´t be an issue. We are of the opinion that WAIT FOR ME would prefer a bigger field, and she´s also a bit high in the weights. BLACK SAM BELLA is the one to beat, albeit this is probably a better race than she recently won!
This battle for Australian pride is also last seasons final. On that ocassion Sam Stosur defied the odds to beat her compatriot over three sets. Nevertheless, head to heads are at two apiece and Stosur is struggling to hold her rank. Maybe age is catching up with the ten year older player, albeit she did win well in the first round against Sofia Kenin. The problem with Daria Gavrilova is she makes hard work of winning. And, while she got past her last round opponent Jennifer Brady in straight sets, both needed tie breakers. Nevertheless, Dasha is talented and she´s got the game to beat a player like Stosur. In fact, we would suggest her opponent is one dimensional and controlling her topspin could be enough!
Veronica Cepede Royg is one of those players we believe should do a lot better. The 26 year old from Paraguay´s problem is the ´´chica syndrome´´, in that she lacks consistency. Nevertheless, she´s got a real game for clay, and she won in the first round against good yard stick Kateryna Kozlova. Furthermore, at this stage last year she was marching on to a final in Trnava and she followed up with wins over Pavlyuchenkova and Safarova at the French open. Katerina Siniakova is very capable but she´s expensive to follow. Needing three sets to get past Anna Zaja in the first round is just average form, and we can see her being upset here - Take the +3.5 games at around ´´evens´´
Aarhus coach David Nielsen will be unhappy that his players let a 2-0 lead slip in the reverse tie. While the end result was a fair one it should be noted that Sonderjyske didn´t find the back of the net until the 78th minute. Ten minutes later the equaliser fell to Jakobsen and with it the then visitors had scored two goals from their only two shots on target. For that match both teams were missing key players, and for Aarhus that will again be the case today. Top scorer Tobias Sana is a definate absentee, and so are Moller and Amini. The hosts on the other hand have both Marc Pedersen and Marcel Romer returning from one match suspensions. Niki Zimling is the only doubt for coach Claus Norgaard! Sonderjyske won the pairs league meeting here by a comfortable 3-0. we expect something similar today! At these odds we can also bet with the added insurance of money back in case of a draw!
Their is no doubting that Timea Babos is playing on her favoured surface. We could also point out that she´s got a positive balance on the year (16-11), and she´s already won a season tournament in Taipei. Nevertheless, the Hungarian is limited, and if Zarina Diyas plays one of her better matches she wins this easily. While their is a risk that Diyas doesn´t perform to a consistent level she did look very good in the first round. At these odds this bet is a no brainer!
Despite already being a 24 year old Danielle Collins wasn´t a known player before this year. To say that the American has come a long way in a short time is probably an understatement, and their is no reason to believe she won´t be around for the long term. However, whether clay will prove to be her surface is one question, and their is no doubt she will be facing a different type of player in the tricky Qiang Wang. While the Chinese girl started the campaign slowly she´s certainly got a game to play at the top level. Vesnina, Garcia and Cirstea were players she beat on this surface last season, so a similar level should suffice!