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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Resurgent Bencic ready to take down clay lover Bertens

Copil on the short side for tough-looking Zeballos clash

Belinda Bencic beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4 6-1 in her opener
1 of 1

Sky Sports 3, 7pm

After starting the season slowly Belinda Bencic has plummeted to 128th in the WTA rankings, but the Swiss miss could still be a nice price to win her BNP Paribas Open second-round clash against Kiki Bertens.

Bencic was ranked as high as seventh in the world 13 months ago and defeated Serena Williams on the way to lifting the 2015 Rogers Cup in Canada. The 19-year-old lost her way in the second half of last year, but there are signs that her game is coming together and she is capable of outclassing Bertens at her best.

Bertens has done well to attain a top-20 position in the WTA chart, but much of the Dutchwoman's best work in recent seasons has come on clay. She gets less time to think between shots on the faster courts and if Bencic, a 6-4 6-1 winner over Tsvetana Pironkova in her Indian Wells opener, is on the way back to something like her best, the 18th seed may be made to pay.

Promising American Louisa Chirico can be considered against Irina-Camelia Begu after sweeping aside qualifier Francesca Schiavone 6-3 6-3. But Begu, seeded 29th at California's Tennis Garden venue, is capable of turning on the style on occasions so this clash may be better watched.

Marius Copil has been enjoying his tennis lately, but bookmakers may have gone a little too far by making the Romanian a strong favourite to account for Horacio Zeballos.

Powerful Argentinian Zeballos has been a serial underachiever for much of his career - the exception came when he defeated Rafael Nadal in the final of the 2013 Chile Open.

Like many of his countrymen, he can be a decent operator on US hardcourts. Punters can consider supporting him to post an upset triumph, but the safer option could be to back him to win at least a set at a shade of odds-on.

B Bencic
2pts 4-6 general
H Zeballos to win at least a set
1pt 17-20 Betway, Ladbrokes

Bertens gets less time to think between shots on the faster courts and may be made to pay
E.W. Terms
Sky bet