Moscow schedule of play:
Flavia Pennetta vs. Camila Giorgi
An all Italian clash features the young Camila Giorgi versus the veteran Flavia Pennetta. Giorgi is coming off a final appearance in Linz, but she lost a heartbreaker there. Can she turn it around for Moscow? Pennetta's form after US Open has been bad, so Camila stands a good chance, but I do think that her loss in Linz will haunt her for a while. Flavia also has the experience to weather the bombs that Giorgi throws at her.
Pick: Pennetta in 3 tight sets
Monica Niculescu vs. Mona Barthel
On an indoor surface, I would expect Mona Barthel to perform better. The German has won Paris Indoors before, so she would have the experience of playing under such conditions. Niculescu's junky game will be less of a factor in the indoor environment, so Barthel should be able to belt her winners at will. Mona has a clean game, but tends to make silly errors at inopportune times. I still believe she needs a new coach to bring her game to the next level.
Pick: Barthel in 3 sets
Johanna Larsson vs. Polona Hercog
Both players have a glaring weakness, which is their backhands. These 2 players seem contend to be languishing inside the top 100, not making a concerted effort to improve their weakness or game. Nevertheless, Larsson's recent form has been decent, with a 3rd round showing in US Open, and an upset of Kirsten Flipkens in her first round. That should give her the confidence boost she needs. Polona also claimed an upset over Erakovic, but it's not as significant as Larsson's win over a seeded player. Whoever wins this will probably be ousted in the next round though.
Pick: Larsson in 3 sets
Sure win bets: Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ekaterina Makarova, Alize Cornet, Sabine Lisicki
Upset alert: Monica Niculescu