Dubai schedule of play:
Rio schedule unavailable
Sloane Stephens vs. Lucie Safarova
If anyone saw Sloane's match against Cetkovska in Doha last week, they will be aghast at how nonchalant the American was. With that kind of performance, why bother turning up anyway? If this girl continues her attitude, this whole trip to the middle east is wasted. Pity as Sloane can play well if she wants to. Lucie on the other hand did her Fed Cup duties, flew all the way from Spain to Qatar, pushed Kvitova to 3 tight sets. Sloane needs to learn from Lucie about work ethics. Anyway, form wise, Lucie has the edge as well. So I expect a win for the left-hander.
Pick: Safarova in 2 sets
Venus Williams vs. Elena Vesnina
Surprisingly, Venus Williams trails Elena Vesnina in their heads to heads 0-2. Will Venus finally exorcise her demons and clinch that first win over the Russian? Good news for Venus is that Vesnina's form has been shaky recently. The Russian retired in Hobart, lost to big hitters in Julia Goerges and Alison Riske in her last 2 tournaments. Venus looks good to announce her return with a win over the steady Russian. However, if things get tight, we might see a choke again like in Doha.
Pick: Williams in 2 sets
Sorana Cirstea vs. Roberta Vinci
Someone has to win here, a match up of 2 of the tour's worst slumpers. Vinci is still winless this year, while Sorana has negligible wins over Schmiedlova and Kudryavtseva. For someone like Cirstea who doesn't take variety well, Vinci looks set to clinch her first win this year. It's pretty strange to see Roberta struggling this year as she has been enjoying good doubles success. The tennis definitely isn't the problem. Maybe it's the motivation. One thing's for sure, the winner won't have it easy in her next round.
Pick: Vinci in 3 sets
Sure win bets: Carla Suarez Navarro, Ekaterina Makarova
Upset alert: Elena Vesnina, Sloane Stephens