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WTA Palermo Tennis Picks & Predictions: Paolini Will Wear Down Zhang (Wednesday, July 20)

WTA Palermo Tennis Picks & Predictions: Paolini Will Wear Down Zhang (Wednesday, July 20) article feature image

Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images. Pictured: Jasmine Paolini

WTA Palermo has featured fantastic tennis so far, and the action continues on Wednesday.

I’ve found betting value in two of Wednesday’s matches, and you can find my best bets and previews below.

Note: Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.

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Irina-Camelia Begu (-300) vs. Oceane Dodin (+225)

10 a.m. ET

Irina-Camelia Begu came back from a break down in the third against Marina Bassols to advance to the second round. Begu won 63% of her service points and 45% of her return points. Begu generated 13 break points on Bassols’ serve, breaking serve on five occasions.

Begu was not at her best against Bassols, but the Spaniard had qualified for Palermo and was solid from the baseline.

Overall, in her career, Begu is 262-134 on clay, including a 9-4 record this season. While the Romanian doesn’t have any huge weapons, she gets consistent depth from the baseline and moves well on clay. Begu can also ramp up the pace when she sees an opening.

Oceane Dodin defeated qualifier Matilde Paoletti 6-4, 7-5 in the first round. Dodin won 78% of her first-serve points and was very aggressive on return, which led to her winning 50% of her return points.

Like Begu, Dodin broke five times and generated 13 break points total. However, Dodin only won 37% of her second-serve points.

Dodin is not at her best on clay, but does hold a 71-62 record on the surface as a professional. Dodin has a huge first serve and tries to be very aggressive from the baseline. However, at times, her rally tolerance suffers as a result of this aggressive attitude.

Dodin’s second serve has also been weak lately, as she’s won under 40% of her second-serve points in her last four matches.

Dodin had lost 11 sets in a row coming into the Paoletti match, and one performance doesn’t convince me that she has totally turned her form around. She’s been very erratic from the baseline, in addition to her second-serve struggles.

Begu, on the other hand, is very solid in rallies and will force Dodin to hit those extra shots that typically lead to unforced errors from the Frenchwoman. Begu will also get good depth on her groundstrokes, not giving Dodin opportunities to attack.

In addition, Begu’s overall Elo rating is 208.9 points better than Dodin’s, and her clay-court Elo is 177.2 points better than the Frenchwoman’s.

Pick: Begu 2-0 in sets (-120 via BetMGM)

Jasmine Paolini (-140) vs. Shuai Zhang (+114)

3:30 p.m. ET

Jasmine Paolini played an excellent match to defeat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-1 in the first round. Paolini won 70% of her service points and only faced two break points all match, getting broken once.

In addition, the Italian was all over Schmiedlova’s serve, winning 57% of her return points and breaking serve five times in eight return games.

Despite a 4-6 record this season, Paolini is 179-107 on clay in her career. Paolini is very fast around the court and has a high rally tolerance.

Paolini is also aggressive from the baseline when she gets the chance to be. However, Paolini can sometimes struggle when she’s pulled off the court by her opponents’ shot-making, as the Italian doesn’t have the best reach.

Shuai Zhang was clutch in her 7-6(3), 7-6 (7) first-round victory over Rebeka Masarova, as Zhang was in trouble in both sets. Zhang won 73% of her first-serve points, but only won 47% of her second-serve points.

Zhang did decently well against Masarova’s second delivery, as she won 48% of her second-serve return points.

Zhang has struggled during her career on clay, with an 88-90 record as a professional, including a 4-7 record this season on the dirt.

Zhang has a huge first serve and tries to play with power from the ground, especially the forehand wing. However, playing on clay mitigates these strengths, making Zhang easier to break and forcing her into longer rallies.

Paolini returned very well against Schmiedlova, and the clay should help her blunt Zhang’s power. Paolini has the edge in extended rallies, as the Italian has the higher rally tolerance of the two players.

Paolini moves better on clay and will be able to track down many of Zhang’s powerful groundstrokes. It was also encouraging to see Paolini serving well because when Paolini can generate short balls, she can play with controlled aggression and put the ball away.

Pick: Paolini -1.5 games (-122 via FanDuel)

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