We come off a neat start at the Limoges Challenger as the set handicap on Samsonova came in handily. A single break in the first set was enough as the Russian didn't face a break point and only lost five points on serve. It remained a serve-oriented match in which Samsonova came out on top with a 6-4 4-6 6-4 win over Giorgi who, as presumed, wasn't on top of her game.
Today, there will be five more first round matches and I will preview the last one scheduled between Estonian Kaia Kanepi and #4 seed Jennifer Brady from the US.
Kanepi causing controversy
There has been quite the controversy about Kanepi over the last two weeks after she decided to play a 15k event in Milovice the last week of November. Other than the #105 in the world, all players have been ranked outside of the top 400. While many bloggers criticized her for "vulturing" the tournament, she played well within the rules and I think it was totally legit to compete there. She was only a few spots away from securing direct acceptance to the Australian Open main draw and the ranking points she gained in Milovice helped her overtake Begu, Watson, Gasparyan and Kalinskaya. If my estimations are right, Kanepi moved into the first alternate spot as of now. With Azarenka already having pulled out and a few more players like Petkovic being doubtful due to injury, that move might have secured her a place at the Australian Open without having to go through qualifying.
So while Kanepi did play some tennis recently, we can't really tell too much about her form. The same applies to Jennifer Brady who played her last match on October 8th and is currently practicing for the new season. The American had the best year of her career in 2019 and is sitting at a career high ranking of #55.
Opportunity on the over
Despite being ranked almost 50 spots higher than Kanepi, bookies made Brady the clear underdog in this match. I assume that this has to do with the fact that the American didn't compete in any matches for quite some time now and Kanepi won her matches fairly easy. But again, her opponents in Milovice have been Vidmanova, Kolodziejova, Hennemann, Noskova and Kulikova. None of these girls are at the level Brady is.
Both Kanepi and Brady are hard hitters and possess a good serve. I'm not expecting any of them to fight for their lives here in Limoges, so this should be another serve-oriented match. Even though it's Brady's first match back and we're stll in the offseason, I'm not sure she should be +160 against Kanepi. The underdog line on Brady is accompanied by a relatively low games total of 20.5 which should be at least one game higher in my opinion. Yesterday, five of the seven matches in Limoges went over and I'm hoping for that trend to continue in a match with two good servers.