Schedule of play:
Flavia Pennetta vs. Yulia Putintseva
Flavia marks her return to tour from yet another injury with a tricky first round opponent. Yulia Putintseva is a feisty competitor, and can get onto the opponent's nerves. If Flavia isn't fully recovered, she will have a tough time handling Yulia's flat strokes. Coupled with the youngster's taunting come-ons, Flavia might just lose it. A tough draw for the Italian, who has done almost close to nothing since her Indian Wells triumph.
Pick: Putintseva in 3 sets
Sara Errani vs. Sabine Lisicki
On grass, Sabine Lisicki would have been the clear winner given how well she excels on that surface. However, that part of the season is gone, and Sabine is back to her struggling ways. Sara's game is deceptively efficient on hard courts, so Sabine cannot expect to just simply blast the Italian away. The German needs to be patient and attack on the right balls. If not, it will be an extremely ugly match which Sara will emerge the winner.
Pick: Errani in 3 sets
Sorana Cirstea vs. Lucie Safarova
Defending finalist Cirstea will be under loads of pressure to defend her points here. Sorana is still in the top 50 purely based on the finalist points last year. If she loses here, she will be well below the top 50, which is not a surprise given her appalling results this year. It is not hopeless yet for Sorana, as she meets the equally volatile Lucie Safarova. The Czech looked to be in the form of her life, when she unexpectedly got knocked out last week in Washington as the top seed. Looks like consistency will never be in these 2 girls' dictionary. Cirstea has more shocking losses this year, so the edge clearly belongs to Safarova.
Pick: Safarova in 2 sets
Sure win bets: Dominika Cibulkova, Heather Watson, Roberta Vinci
Upset alert: Flavia Pennetta, Sloane Stephens, Alize Cornet