WITH world number one Serena Williams safely through to the third round there are a whole host of top seeds hoping to follow suit on Thursday.

Among the biggest stars in action is defending champion Maria Sharapova and she is expected to have little trouble getting past the challenge of world number 77 Eugenie Bouchard despite her run to the semi-finals in Strasbourg last week.

Much has been made of how the Russian's run to the final gets increasingly tricky as the tournament progresses but it is unlikely she will slip-up against her Canadian opponent.

Similarly, there is little chance of an upset when 2011 champion Li Na takes on Bethanie Mattek-Sands in her second-round match. The sixth seed has won their previous two encounters with the last coming on the clay in Stuttgart in straight sets earlier this year.

As a result expect the Chinese star to make it comfortably through, along with both Victoria Azarenka and Sam Stosur who take on Annika Beck and Kristina Mladenovic respectively.

However, it may not be so simple for Petra Kvitova when she faces the in-form Shuai Peng. The latter made it through to the final at the Brussels Open before eventually falling to Kaia Kanepi and despite trailing 3-0 in the head-to-head with her Czech opponent she will fancy her chances of putting up a strong challenge.

Their last meeting in Miami earlier this year went the distance, therefore backing Kvitova to come through in three sets may be worthy of a small investment at 4.0.

With the field thinning out, there is more value to be had across the draw with several players hoping to upset the odds and build on their solid start to the tournament.

French hopeful Marion Bartoli came through a real battle in the first round to keep the buoyant home crowd cheering. Having overcome Olga Govortsova last time out she will be confident of extending her tournament further when she takes on Colombian qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino.

Duque-Marino has been in great form this year but given her vastly inferior world ranking she won't relish the prospect of stepping into the lion's den in what will be the last game of the day out on Court 1. With the home faithful demanding a victory, expect Bartoli to respond and book her place in the next round.

Elsewhere, Kirsten Flipkens battled back from a set down to clinch a first-round win over Flavia Pennetta but she will have to overcome another Italian if she harbours hopes of progressing further.

Standing in her way is former champion Francesca Schiavone and having breezed past Melinda Czink last time out she can be confident of setting up a third-round clash with the aforementioned Bartoli.

As the top seeds continue to emerge unscathed from the pack it all points toward a fascinating end to the week.

Recommended Bets

Back Bartoli to beat Duque-Marino @ 1.8
Back Schiavone to beat Flipkens @ 1.91
Back Kvitova to beat Peng 2-1 @ 4.0

Milesey (Betfair)

1 Comment
  1. Milesey 6 years ago

    The weather forecast looks a tad grim around Roland Garros on Thursday, but we’re hopeful of some play, the latest tips in the men’s singles…

    Day four of the 2013 French Open was a good one for this column with two winners from my three recommended bets on the day.

    Unfortunately, young Aussie star Nick Kyrgios was injured and unable to put up much of a fight in sets two and three against Marin Cilic, but Viktor Troicki defeated Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Michael Llodra did enough against Milos Raonic.

    Troicki should have won all five sets he played against the Spaniard, but somehow contrived to lose two of them, while Llodra took the second set against Raonic to land the 3-0 lay of the Canadian.

    Thursday’s schedule at Roland Garros features both Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic and the former takes to Court Suzanne Lenglen at around 1pm UK time depending upon the length of the two women’s matches beforehand and I expect Rafa to dispose of Martin Klizan with less fuss than was the case with Daniel Brands in round one.

    Rafa is 36-4 on clay against left handers such as Klizan and two of those losses go back to 2003 and 2004, with the defeat to Horacio Zeballos coming when he was returning from injury and the other loss was to Fernando Verdasco on the infamous blue clay of Madrid last year.

    Klizan is a talent on his day, but his days are few and far between and I cannot see him having the consistent shot-making ability or raw power required to trouble Nadal in their first career meeting. The Slovakian has done little on clay this season and has never faced a top-five ranked opponent in his career so far.

    He’ll do well to cover a +9.5 game handicap today and the Nadal minus 9.5 games looks the bet in this one at around 1.9.

    On Court 7 in the afternoon there’s what should be an entertaining clash between Robin Haase and Jerzy Janowicz and the layers appear to have overrated the Pole in this one.

    Janowicz had a good win over Albert Ramos in the last round, but the Spaniard does have the quitting gene when things aren’t going his way and the first two sets were very close.

    Haase has a bigger game than Ramos and can cause some damage if the Pole doesn’t serve his best and the Dutchman is a very capable player on the clay. Now that he’s got the monkey off his back by finally winning a tie break he should at least take a set in this and I like the +4.5 games about him today at 1.92.

    Recommended Bets

    Back Nadal -9.5 games to beat Klizan at 1.9
    Back Haase +4.5 games to beat Janowicz at 1.92

    Milesey

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