Schedule of play:
Chanelle Scheepers vs. Flavia Pennetta
Pennetta's record since Indian Wells has been a paltry 7-9 win-loss record. This is really absurd for someone who has started the year so well. The Italian might be carrying an injury, but if you're injured, you shouldn't even be on the court. Anyway, Pennetta gets a soft opening match here against Scheepers. If she manages to screw this up, I'm afraid she's done for the year, or maybe even her career. Flavia needs to grab this chance, and stop the horrific slump before it gets embarassing.
Pick: Pennetta in 2 tight sets
Alize Cornet vs. Madison Keys
Even though Keys has won her first event in Eastbourne, I believe her game still needs some polishing. The American is too impatient at times and commits silly errors during important points. Cornet is a good player for Keys to play against as Alize will thrive on these small little errors. Besides, Alize will make Keys want to hit that winner with her endless retrieving, testing the patience of the American. This should be a tight one, but Cornet has the experience and might irritate Keys into hitting herself out of the tournament.
Pick: Cornet in 3 sets
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Dominika Cibulkova
Much like Pennetta, Cibulkova is at a disappointing 5-7 win-loss record after her appearance in Kuala Lumpur. This is extremely shocking as it was remarked on how much she has improved in Melbourne. As with Flavia, there is a possibility that she's playing through an injury, but it is never wise to do that. Thus, Pavlyuchenkova should be able to cruise through this. The Australian Open finalist is just too fragile at this moment to be winning matches against top 30 players.
Pick: Pavlyuchenkova in 2 sets
Sure win bets: Belinda Bencic, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki,
Upset alert: Zhang Shuai, Klara Koukalova, Samantha Stosur