Schedule of play:
Christina McHale vs. Zheng Jie
This will be the pair's first meeting, which is quite a surprise given that these 2 have been on tour for a relatively long time. Only 3 ranking spots separate these 2, so it's difficult to say for sure who's the favourite. As of current form, I would give the edge to Christina. She reached the finals in Acapulco, and lost a tight match against an in form Dellacqua. Zheng was pretty bad in her match against Li, but hopefully she'll do better here. A close match should be in the cards, with the American winning.
Pick: McHale in 3 sets
Maria-Teresa Torro Flor vs. Andrea Petkovic
For a former top 10 player, Petkovic is really struggling to find her level again. She has been abysmal so far this year, losing to players she should be beating. She gets a soft draw here, with Torro-Flor winning only 2 matches so far this year. Granted that one of her wins was against Kerber, Torro-Flor had a good day and was immediately brought down to earth the next day. Petkovic just needs to get that extra ball back and make Torro-Flor rush. If the German loses this, it might spell big trouble.
Pick: Petkovic in 2 sets
Nadia Petrova vs. Urszula Radwanska
Nadia Petrova retired from her first round match in Indian Wells, which might indicate that she's not fully fit for this match. Pity because this is a winnable match for the Russian, as Radwanska is fresh in her comeback and is extremely rusty. If her body holds up, I believe Nadia has the game to take apart Urszula. However, with that worrying retirement, I don't believe she can get the job done.
Pick: Radwanska in 3 sets
Zheng Shuai vs. Lauren Davis
Zhang Shuai is nursing an injury, so Lauren will be the favourite here. Davis must be one of the most unlucky players on tour, having being stung by a wasp, and suffering from a stomach upset after her biggest win. One week should be enough for her to recover and take out the Chinese. Both players play a relatively same game, but Davis will be higher in confidence, and getting the home crowd support.
Pick: Davis in 2 sets
Peng Shuai vs. Karolina Pliskova
Peng's focus has been on doubles for a while now, so Pliskova has a chance here to topple the Chinese. Karolina is armed with a huge serve, but just needs to be more imaginative with her groundstrokes. Peng will need to defend her serve well and hope for a lapse of concentration from the Czech. With their recent form, I think Karolina will win this encounter, but Peng will definitely give a good fight.
Pick: Pliskova in 2 tight sets
Sure win bets: Madison Keys, Alison Riske, Mona Barthel, Karin Knapp, Yvonne Meusburger
Upset alert: Alexandra Cadantu, Marina Erakovic, Peng Shuai, Zheng Jie, Zhang Shuai