WTA Strasbourg Tennis Odds, Picks, Predictions: Pera Undervalued Against Pliskova (May 18)
Tiziana Fabi/Getty. Pictured: Karolina Pliskova hits a backhand at the Italian Open.
It's been a fun week of tennis in Strasbourg and we have six fascinating round of 16 matches on Wednesday!
Two of Wednesday's matches feature value that we can exploit, including Karolina Pliskova's matchup with Bernarda Pera.
Read below for two plays from Wednesday in Strasbourg!
Karolina Pliskova (-240) vs. Bernarda Pera (+190)
5 a.m. ET
Pera has won seven of her nine matches on clay this season. In Strasbourg, Pera defeated Elena Gabriela Ruse 7-5, 6-4 to reach the round of 16.
Against Ruse, Pera did a great job attacking the second serve. She won 58% of her second-serve return points and broke serve four times. The American was clutch on her own serve, saving eight of 10 break points. Pera's heavy, lefty game worked well in this match, and it typically does on clay.
Pera reached the final of the WTA Challenger in Karlsruhe, although she lost to Mayar Sherif. Sherif (in Karlsruhe) was the only opponent in this clay-court season to win at least 50% of her second-serve returns and at least 60% of her return points overall against Pera's return game. Pera is a tricky player to face as she uses her lefty forehand very well to control the baseline.
Karolina Pliskova got back on track in her first match of the tournament. Pliskova beat Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 6-2 to advance in Strasbourg.
Pliskova served very well against Kostyuk, winning 76% of her first-serve points and 68% of her service points overall, only getting broken once. The Czech won 55% of Kostyuk's second-serve points and 48% of her return points overall.
She hit her spots on serve and used her aggressive, flat return game to make an erratic Kostyuk uncomfortable. It was a sign of life for Pliskova, who had lost four of six matches so far during the clay-court season and couldn't find the range on her serve and groundstrokes. However, Kostyuk was so impatient from the baseline, it was hard to get a good gauge of Pliskova's level.
Pera will come into this match confident after a lot of recent success on clay. She's much more consistent than Kostyuk was in the first round and will be able to test Pliskova's backhand with her heavy cross-court forehand.
There's a good chance Pliskova's straightforward win over Kostyuk was more about Kostyuk's lack of form than Pliskova's form, although the Czech's precision on her shots was superb.
Pera has good rally tolerance, a higher-margin lefty forehand that will be able to push Pliskova around without spraying unforced errors and a solid backhand that Pliskova won't be able to pick on.
Pick: Pera +3.5 games (+102 via FanDuel)
Elise Mertens (-500) vs. Anna-Lena Friedsam (+360)
6:30 a.m. ET
Anna-Lena Friedsam had a strong start in Strasbourg. Friedsam came back from a set down to defeat Daria Saville 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5).
She won 53% of her second-serve return points and broke serve four times, showcasing great mental toughness and not faltering when she went down 6-4, 2-0* 0-30 and when she lost her *3-0 lead in the third. The German was particularly good against Saville's second serve in the third set, winning 60% of her second-serve return points.
Friedsam moved well and was patient in lengthy baseline exchanges, which was important given Saville's defensive abilities. She also understood the right time to pull the trigger and attack. The German's form is picking up, as she made the semifinals of Karlsruhe, though she had to retire against Pera.
Elise Mertens is playing her first tournament since Istanbul, when she had to retire against Rebecca Peterson. Mertens didn't seem like herself in the first round, winning a tight straight-set affair 7-5, 6-4 against Carole Monnet.
Mertens won an impressive 78% of her first serves against Monnet and 52% of second-serve returns. With that said, the Belgian only won 44% of her second-serve points and struggled to generate the consistent depth that she is known for on the WTA Tour.
This will be Mertens' third match on clay this season and given how closely Monnet played her, she's still working towards her best form. Mertens wasn't even playing great tennis before her injury, having gone just 5-5 since the Australian Open.
Given Friedsam's movement and consistency from the baseline, Mertens' attacking game will need to be up to par in this match. I'm not convinced that Mertens is ready for that challenge yet. She has been leaving balls short in the court and her controlled aggression is not quite at the level it's been in years past.
Friedsam is doing a great job of attacking second serves, while Mertens has now gone five-straight matches with under 45% second-serve points won. Look for Friedsam to crush Mertens' second delivery.
Pick: Friedsam +5.5 games (-138 via FanDuel)