As expected, betting on this week’s action in Palermo has been difficult, to say the least. As we noted earlier this week, predicting these matches without half a season of results, trends, injury concerns and match stats is like driving on the highway in a torrential downpour. For the most part, we’re flying blind, and the extremely windy conditions have only made matters worse.
That, combined with the fact that many of these players will be switching to hard courts next week to prepare for the US Open, has resulted in upsets-a-plenty. Seeded players Marketa Vondrousova, Maria Sakkari, Elise Mertens, Ekaterina Alexandrova, and Donna Vekic have all fallen.
With so much uncertainty, it’s important to go with what you know for sure, and so far, the only certainty has been Petra Martic’s ever-increasing clay-court prowess. The Croatian, who went 16-3 on clay last year and captured her first career title in Istanbul, was brilliant in her 6-0, 6-3 destruction of Alison Van Uytvanck on Tuesday.
Martic’s game is tailor-made for clay. She moves gracefully, plays with great variety, and owns one of the most effective kick-serves in the women’s game. She can knife a low-skidding slice, but also float it deep to remove pace. Not only can Martic wear opponents down from the baseline, she never wastes an opportunity to move forward, and smothers the net with her quickness and formidable wingspan.
At (-250) to defeat the relatively unknown Liudmila Samsonova, Martic, making her first appearance in Palermo, is by far the best play of the week. Though a $100 bet will only win you $40, the line will almost certainly shift in favor of the world No. 15 once the bets start rolling in, so jump on it while you can. In classic sports betting terminology, this is an instance where you “hammer the line.” Expect the top seed to take care of business and don’t be surprised if she captures her second career WTA title on Sunday.