WTA Tennis mid-December
I have no idea if the WTA wants to have a special end of the decade or why they randomly scheduled another tournament mid-December. Anyway, here we are, the week before Christmas, with another 125k event in Limoges, France. The tournament has been part of the WTA Challenger Series since 2014, but used to take place in early November. It is played on indoor hard courts, a surface that appeals to all of the previous winners: Tereza Smitkova (2014), Caroline Garcia (2015), Monica Niculescu (2017) and Ekaterina Alexandrova (2016 & 2018).
Two other players that have their best record on indoor hards are Camila Giorgi from Italy and Russian Liudmila Samsonova, who also competed for Italy from 2014 to 2018. The two women will face off in today's round one match.
Hot and cold Camila
Camila Giorgi dropped all the way down to #100 in the rankings as she had to deal with injuries all year. Just like her overall performance, her results this fall were up and down. She got absolutely crushed by Maria Sakkari at the US Open, losing 1-6 0-6, just to turn up the heat again in Tokyo a few weeks later, defeating Sloane Stephens 6-0 6-3. You might assume that win had to do with Stephens not caring too much at the Asian swing, but Giorgi fired shots all match. If she's in that kind of form, she's able to beat almost everyone on tour. Only four days later though, the Italian had to retire again in her first round match in Wuhan and only played one more match since then, a three-set loss to Andrea Petkovic in Luxembourg.
So while I love Giorgi's style, I doubt she's at 100% again and also don't think she's here to win. It's much more important for her to get match practice again and that should be the intention of showing up in Limoges. Despite her drop in the rankings, she just about managed to get into the Australian Open main draw, so she doesn't need any points here either.
Up and coming Liudmila
On the other side of the net, we have Liudmila Samsonova, an up and coming player from Russia. The 21-year-old is coming off a final at the ITF 80k event in Poitiers where she beat Parmentier, Lottner, Maria and Dodin, all in straight sets. She's the current #135 in the world and will surely be motivated to prove herself again on the bigger stage.
While she's not as aggressive as Giorgi (hardly anybody is), the Russian can really hit the ball hard, so I expect her not only to capitalize on Giorgi's erratic play, but also to be able to finish points by herself. Altogether, there are a lot of question marks about Giorgi and I think Samsonova can keep it close at least, that's why I'm taking the Russian to win a set. The bet can be found at the "Player" section at bet365 ("To Win in Straight Sets" - "Camila Giorgi" - "No").