You have to admire Roberta Vinci for her long career, and it’s amazing to think she reached her highest rank (7) at the age of 33. However, 2017 was full of disappointments and injuries, and 2018 isn’t going any better. The just turned 35 year old is due to go into retirement following Rome, and their is nothing to suggest she’s going to leave with a big bang. While the Italian won matches this season, the fact is she really struggled past Kalinskaya and Lapko in qualifying. And, now she gets to face the very much up and coming Aliaksandra Sasnovich. The 23 year old from Belarus is 9-2 on the year. She beat Mladanovic, Sevastova, Cornet and Kontaveit on her way to the final of Brisbane. And, she treated both Lucic Baroni and McHale with disdain at the Aussie open. In fact, only Caroline Garcia (3 sets) and Svitolina have beaten her this season. If Sasnovich plays her game this should be easy!
Their is an argument to suggest Caroline Garcia is in a better place than Lucie Safarova at the moment, and of course the 24 year old French girl has age on her side. Beating the likes of Cibulkova, Blinkova, Sasnovich and Vondrousova are all decent efforts from the world number 7, albeit they all went 3 sets. It’s probably fair to suggest that Garcia needs to learn how to be ruthless has she’s always vulnerable. That comment has long applied to probably the friendliest player on tour. Everyone loves Lucie and she’s certainly a very good player who can beat most on her day. While the now 31 year old had a tough time of it last season with injuries, she appears to be free of any impediment for now. Lucie beat Cirstea in straight sets at the Aussie, and she also took another power player Kristina Pliskova close. We can imagine her performing well here, and that’s why we want to take her with a h’cap start!
We would bet just about anyone to beat Sam Stosur at the moment. The Aussie might have qualified in fair style, but she really beat very little. Losing recently to an out of form Puig and Hibino tell us all we need to know about the 33 year old. In any case, it isn’t has though Anett Kontaveit will come up short. The 22 year old Estonian has already beaten Krunic, Barthel and Ostapenko at this years Australian open, and she came really good at this time last season!
Qiang Wang dropped Jelena Ostapenko, Ons Jabeur and Kristina Mladenovic out of this competition last year. In fact, she went on to make the QF before losing a tight two setter to Anastasija Sevastova. While the 26 year old had to qualify this time around, we actually see that has a positive. Forget the fact she wis a lucky lucky loser here has that was known before she played Sofya Zhuk. Kiki Bertens went out of this competition at the first hurdle last year. Nothing she’s done recently would suggest she’s going to be a big player here. We would also suggest waiting for the clay season before following the 26 year old.
West Virginia's inconsistent offense let them down again as a poor 2nd half performance downed them on the road at Kansas, although it's fair to say the Jayhawks are playing like a top 5 team right now. Baylor has been scorching hot, with wins in their last 5 games in the ultra competitive Big 12. Nevertheless, this matchup suits the Mountaineers as the Bears are hardly consistent on the offensive end themselves. The Bears also have issues with turnovers which is an area the Mountaineers attack relentlessly with their pressing defense. This game should be played on the visitors' terms and we believe the Bears recent successes have come under favourable conditions. This one is a MAX Bet for us.
Elise Mertens again started the season by winning Hobart, and then the 22 year old followed up with a massive semi final in Australia. However, since then she struggled at last weeks Doha losing to Sorana Cirstea, and she will need to do better against an improved Catherine Bellis. The 18 year old American enjoyed massive wins over Daria Kasatkina, Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys at last weeks Doha, and she’s already established herself in the top fifty. To be forthright, we don’t see anything stopping Bellis getting into the top 20 this season. Bellis is a player to keep on the right side.
It's been a topsy-turvy year for Valparaiso in their inaugural season in the MVC as the Crusaders are 5-11 and tied for last place with their opponents today. However, it's the Crusaders who are moving in the right direction with wins in 2 out of their last 3 and a hard fought loss to conference leader Loyola Chicago. For Northern Iowa, the season began promisingly but the Panthers have covered just once in their last 7 games and have yet to win a road game all season at 0-9. In fact, the Panthers haven't covered a game on the road all year as well. We'll go with the in form hosts to cover this modest number.
Wyoming let us down over the weekend but perhaps the Cowboys are one of the teams that the Spartans just always do well against, similar to UNLV. In any case, Wyoming probably should have covered anyway but at least this time against New Mexico, it's a much more manageable 4 pt spread. The Lobos are a dreadful 2-8 on the road with one of those wins coming against San Jose St, a winless team in the MWC. The elevation perhaps won't bother the Lobos but their extremely poor rebounding will put them at an extreme disadvantage. Louis Adams is questionable for the hosts but his presence would merely be a bonus.
We are getting some value here on Saint Louis as one of their starters in Jordan Goodwin was recently suspended. However, the Billikens promptly won their very next game without him on the road against a dangerous Richmond team. The Billikens play a tough nosed, physical style of ball that gives them a big edge on the glass and frustrates opponents defensively. The Flyers recent form leaves much to be desired as they've won just twice n their last 6 and coming off an 80-70 win against dreadful Fordham tells us nothing. 5 points is much too generous.
WE SHOULDN'T REALLY BE GIVING AWAY OUR RACING PREMIUM BETS FOR FREE, ESPECIALLY SINCE LAST 6 FROM 7 WON AND THAT SHOULD BE ENOUGH PROFIT TO PAY - NEVERTHELESS, AS A GOODWILL GESTURE - A quick way to the poor house is betting Jonjo O’Neill runners at short odds. And, while his FLEMINPORT looks a decent type in the making, the fact is he’s giving 6 pounds to a good type in CLASH OF D TITANS. While Jonjo has just gone 22 races without a winner, the trainer of our selection Warren Greatrex racked up five from his last twenty. CLASH OF D TITANS placed in a point to point and ran in a bumper before debuting over hurdles. While the latter wasn’t good enough from a form perspective, the trip was clearly too short. Stepping up today should see the son of Gold Well in a better light, and he’s clearly bred to handle testing ground like this. This will be a big bet for us!
Up until recently we were critical about the way Frankfurt play football has they were guilty in taking the fun out of the game. In fact, we blamed former Croatia coach Niko Kovac for setting his team up to stifle the opposition. However, even we have to admit that the tactic worked, and to be fair Die Adler have been more entertaining of late. We should also add that the hosts lost just one of their last eight competitive matches, and they won their last three at home. With that said Frankfurt have still taken more points on the road than at home, and in RB Leipzig they met their match. From what we witnessed Racing totally dominated the reverse fixture, and has such winning by just 2-1 was kind to Kovac’s men. This match was moved to monday has Leipzig were involved in Europa League on thursday thursday night. And, what a result they had in beating Napoli (1-3). On that note, we should mention that Serie A league leaders lined up with a ‘’second team’’, albeit it was still an amazing performance from Hassenhuttl’s men. We could go through team news, but in our opinion their is nothing game changing. Take Leipzig to show their class!
Wright St got an important win against Northern Kentucky on Friday and pulled into a tie for 1st place with the Norse at 12-3. However, as the Raiders won both meetings against the Norse, they have the inside track to the Horizon League regular season title. Cleveland St saw their modest 2 game winning streak come to an end as they were thrashed by Oakland 82-66 on their home court. Still, the Vikings actually handed the Raiders one of their 3 conference losses of the year early this month and against a team that might be a bit worn out, should be able to keep this within reason.