Daniela Hantuchova

Novak-Djokovic-Australian-Open-2012-ChampionNovak Djokovic (above), the prohibitive favorite to threepeat in Melbourne.


Alexandr Dolgopolov



Andy Murray



Bernard Tomic



David Ferrer



David Nalbandian



Fernando Verdasco



Gael Monfils



Gilles Simon



Janko Tipsarevic



Jerzy Janowicz



Jo-Wilfried Tsonga



Juan Martin Del Potro



Kei Nishikori



Kevin Anderson



Lleyton Hewitt



Marcos Baghdatis



Marin Cilic



Milos Raonic



Nicolas Almagro



Novak Djokovic



Richard Gasquet



Roger Federer



Ryan Harrison



Sam Querrey



Stanislas Wawrinka



Tomas Berdych


__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __


Agnieszka Radwanska



Ana Ivanovic



Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova



Andrea Petkovic



Angelique Kerber



Caroline Wozniacki



Daniela Hantuchova



Francesca Schiavone



Jelena Jankovic



Julia Goerges



Kaia Kanepi



Laura Robson



Maria Kirilenko



Maria Sharapova



Marion Bartoli



Mona Barthel



Na Li



Nadia Petrova



Petra Kvitova



Sabine Lisicki



Samantha Stosur



Sara Errani



Serena Williams



Shuai Peng



Sloane Stephens



Svetlana Kuznetsova



Venus Williams



Victoria Azarenka



Yanina Wickmayer



Venus (above) looking very serious in Luxembourg.

BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open — Final

9:00 AM EST (9 PM, TTC)

Venus Williams:  – 400

Monica Niculescu:  + 300


We can’t be happier than to see Venus with this easy opportunity in Luxembourg City tomorrow.  We of course hesitate here for a moment because we may have just jinxed her, and we have noticed that Lady V has played a lot of tennis this week, which she may not exactly be as used to as she was in her prime, or even just a mere two years ago.  This was a great week for Venus on the court though, beating the impressive but heavily acne-ed German Mona Barthel (yes, Venus slipped her the bagel), top seed Roberta Vinci (a shout for the Italian one hander), and German Andrea Petkovic.  Frankly, while the head to head sits at love love, Niculescu is a poor world #70, she is a bona fide journeywoman, and this was in all likelihood, the best week in her life.  Venus could not have asked for a better matchup in this final.  We also think Niculescu played way over her head earlier in defeating the heavily favored Daniela Hantuchova.  Niculescu may come into this spot with stars in her eyes, and she could be already satisfied at this run.  Or maybe, she’s super motivated to win her 1st career title.  That may be safe to assume, but she is playing Venus Williams here.

We don’t consider this at all similar to Williams-Rezai in Spain a few years back.  Rezai stunned Venus on the clay, after a great week, and we thought that Venus was unprepared to play on that Sunday.  Rezai is a very competent clay courter, theoretically, when she can be located on the face of the earth.  And clay does not suit our Lady V.  But indoors do.  Venus sits at world #41 right now, and with the win, she would re-enter the top 30, by our estimation, on Monday.  Should she win, it will be the first singles title for Venus since Abierto Mexicano, way back in 2010.  It would also be Williams’ 44th career singles crown.

WTA Kremlin Cup — Final

5:00 AM EST (TTC)

Sam Stosur:  – 115

Caroline Wozniacki:  – 115


Please.  Who thinks this is an even matchup?  Stosur leads the h2h 3-2, but she is obviously the much better player, the true champion, the contender with real weapons, whereas Caroline Wozniacki, The Dutch Miss, is the pretender, the chump, the so-so face with the pop gun game.  We would never lay money on Wozniacki, and if you follow us you know why.  Wozniacki is a joke.  Let’s be real.  Her time, which never really came, is now past, and until she makes serious coaching, training, and scheduling changes, she will remain a laughingstock.

ATP Kremlin Cup — Final

7:00 AM EST (TTC)

Andreas Seppi:  – 200

Tomaz Bellucci:  + 160


Seppi is the better fast court player, and we are especially impressed with his play on grass over the last few years.  We feel that translates to indoors.  Bellucci is a clay court specialist, a very poor man’s Rafa, right down to the corkscrew lefty forehand, the grinding, and the incessant running.  But we aren’t comfortable with Seppi as a favorite.  Remember that our philosophy is to make the better bet and that we look for positive money lines.  Speaking for ourselves, we’d probably take a cheap flyer on Bellucci, even though Seppi is a better player.

If Stockholm Open — Final

9:00 AM EST

Tomas Berdych:  – 180

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:  + 150


We feel like Berdych does everything a little better than Tsonga, and is much stronger mentally.  We’d not be surprised if this match is similar to the one they just played in Beijing, in which Berdych won in straights.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Australian Open Ladies Champion Odds — 2012

Radwanska:  + 2500

Ivanovic:  + 3000

Pavlyechenkova:  + 6000

Wozniacki:  + 1200

Cibulkova:  + 15000

Hantuchova:  + 8000

Pennetta:  + 8000

Schiavone:  + 8000

Gadjosova:  + 20000

Jankovic:  + 6000

Goerges:  + 8000

Kanepi:  + 1500

Clijsters:  + 700

Safarova:  + 2000

Sharapova:  + 2000

Bartoli:  + 4000

Li:  + 2000

Petrova:  + 15000

Kvitova:  + 250

Lisicki:  + 4000

Stosur:  + 1200

Serena:  + 350

Peng:  + 10000

Kuznetsova:  + 4000

Zvonareva:  + 3000

Azarenka:  + 700

Wickmayer:  + 15000

Field:  + 2000


No big surprises here.  Hot as fire Mona Barthel, who just won at Hobart and who had to come through the quallies there as well, we think should be included on this list, but it would be the height of unlikeliness to see her walk away with hardware.  Though we’ll be betting she makes a fair impression this week.  As for the rest of the field, well, Vegas might appear to be getting lazy, but we respect these odds.  Sharapova getting paid very little mind, Li, a very dangerous player and major champion who plays well on the Plexicushion, also is paid very little mind.  You know, if you are of a pre-tourny betting mind, we’d say Li Na makes a lot of sense on a flyer.  Schiavone, who is also a major champ, treated here like a nobody with the field being given four times better odds.  Ouch.

In short, Vegas only respects tried and true real deals.  Which Wozniacki is not.  Obviously.  Is this another indictment on Wozniacki’s most uninspired game?  Not yet it’s not.  But check back with us in about 10 days.  We mentioned earlier in the week that we watched her lose to Radwanska the other day.  No surprise there.  But it gave us a chance to really get reacquainted with her game.  She has two second serves.  No forehand whatsoever.  The winners she hits on the forehand are placement winners.  And they are few and far between.  At one point we counted about 25 real time minutes between forehand winners and when she broke the spell, it was because Radwanska had gone so deep behind the baseline that Wozniacki was able to hit an off speed forehand angled out wide.  Very shaky.  By no means a bread and butter shot.  Even on clay.  She’s definitely a backhand player, and since she can’t blow anyone out off that wing either, she really has to play shot after set up shot so close to the lines that mirror image players like Radwanska who can just play the ball back will always give her fits.  And that’s the whole tour.  That’s why a Christina McHale can and has beaten her.  Those players who retrieve everything, and then come up with a shot here or there, or who have a good feel for when to take a chance and come in know they will have their shot.

Bigger guns with actual weapons can take her which goes without saying.  There are many of those in the draw, but let’s concentrate on the ones who Vegas deems as real threats to win.  First the Aussie, Stosur.  we’d have loved her, but she does come in playing pretty bad tennis.  There must be a ton of pressure on her to win for the home nation.  Otherwise, we can’t figure out the dip in her play.  She probably has the second or third biggest serve on the women’s side, has a sick forehand that she can get almost always because of how much she runs around the backhand, and her fitness is primo.  We can’t say we love Clijsters in this spot, but she does have the weapons and the resume, and is known for coming out of nowhere.  She can not be dismissed.

Azarenka is going to break through and she is going to do it soon.  But when she has to play a Kvitova or a Serena, she simply does not have the fire power in that spot.  Still, we could see her winning if the draw falls out.  Serena and Kvitova are clearly the cream of the crop.  And they are on the same side.  That’s most likely going to play out, and while Kvitova has the better odds now, we’ll eat our hat if Serena is not favored then.  Serena played tremendous tennis on similar courts all throughout Cali this summer when she went from world #180 to world number twenty-something in six weeks.  And Serena seems to come in looking well enough.  She got a couple of matches in at Sydney, took 4 sets and lost zero, and then bowed out.  We think she is a very good bargain in this spot at +350.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)


Bank of the West Classic — Quarter-finals (11 PM EST)


Serena Williams:  – 150 (wager 150 units to win 100 units plus initial wager)

Maria Sharapova:  + 120 (wager 100 units to win 120 units plus initial wager)


Serena leads the series 6-2 and has not lost on a hardcourt to Sharapova since the end of 2004 (indoors).  That said, Sharapova seems to have it together lately, putting up a big spring and making the Wimbledon final.  We always root for Serena when she’s not playing big sis, but we might be thinking Masha looks good right here as a dog.  Serena looked good here Thursday, straighting Kirilenko 6-2, 6-3 to open, while Hantuchova gave Sharapova a stiff 2nd round encounter that obviously went to Sharapova, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.  Both players could be a bit distracted out in Cali, with all that both  have going on.  Tonight’s winner will play Sabine Lisicki, playing great tennis, in the semi-finals.  Serena is looking for her 6th win in only her 9th match since returning to the tour from her cut foot and the life threatening complications.  Sharapova is 33-7  on the year and has won at Rome and semi-finaled at Roland Garros, losing to eventual champion Na Li.


Farmers Classic — Quarter-finals (Los Angeles, 10:30 PM)


  Del Potro:  – 700

Gulbis:  + 450


Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Agnieszka Radwanska:  + 6000

Alisa Kleybanova:  + 12500

Ana Ivanovic:  + 5000

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova:  + 5000

Andrea Petkovic:  + 3000

Aravane Rezai:  + 15000

Caroline Wozniacki:  + 1000

Daniela Hantuchova:  + 2000

Flavia Pennetta:  + 15000

Francesca Schiavone:  + 6000

Jelena Jankovic:  + 3000

Julia Goerges:  + 4000

Kaia Kanepi:  + 10000

Maria Sharapova:  + 400

Marion Bartoli:  + 4000

Na Li:  + 700

Nadia Petrova:  + 12500

Petra Kvitova:  + 800

Sabine Lisicki:  + 4000

Sam Stosur:  + 2500

Serena:  + 350

Shahar Peer:  + 15000

Svetlana Kuznetsova:  + 4000

Tsvetana Pironkova:  + 10000

Venus:  + 1000

Vera Zvonareva:  + 1500

Victoria Azarenka:  + 1200

Yanina Wickmayer:  + 6000

Field (Any Other Player):  + 3000


Azarenka over Zvonareva?  Really?

Lady V in her grass court whites (above).

Venus Williams fought hard in her 3rd match back from the hip injury that has seen her out of action since the Australian Open.  But in her quarter-final today at Eastbourne against Daniela Hantuchova, she dropped a 3 setter, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in 2 hours and 23 minutes.

For Venus, who proclaimed she was “here to win” over the weekend, the outcome is not a total loss.  In her 3 matches this week, Venus got in about 5 and 1/2 hours of court time, and now gets 3-4 days to rest up before the main event begins. 

For Hantuchova, it was a monumental win–her first ever–against Venus, who is now 10-1 against the Slovak.  Today’s match makes us recall the 18th career encounter between Bjorn Borg and Queens’ own, Vitas Gerulaitis, when Vitas notched his first win ever against the Swedish machine.

Gerulaitis walked into the press room straightfaced, after that matchup in Palm Beach, and said “Nobody beats Vita Gerulaitis 18 times in a row.”

Vitas is missed.  As was Venus.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)  

Perhaps young Caroline Wozniacki (above), starlet, media darling and tennis prodigy ‘realized’ is too young to know or has never had the time to sit around and watch her sport or to actually read a book about it.  So let’s make clear for her and anyone else in need of the lesson.  Wimbledon is officially called “The Championships at Wimbledon” for very good reason.  Because they are.  Historically, the Wimbledon winner is considered the year’s best player–the champion of tennis.  There are several rationales for that.  It is the oldest and most well established major, on the most beautiful, pristine courts under the sun, under the watchful eye of the royal familly in their royal box, with all of their royal rules of etiquette and dress, and before the days when the questionable mechanics of a computer tallied who had gained the most points and who defended the least points, and this one is #1 even if they lose and this other one is #2 even if they win.


Kudos to the All England Club for doing the right thing by Serena and Venus Williams, and for seeding them well above their WTA rankings.  In fact, kudos to the All England Club for always seeding according to their view of who should be where, and not the wretched, skewed rankings of the WTA and ATP.  This year on the men’s side, true to form, the All England Club did right by seeding Berdych before Ferrer and Roddick before Monfils, going with more tired and true grass court players, paying homage to finalists over guys who have never done much on grass.

When it came to the top of the women’s draw, the club had its hands tied.  Caroline Wozniacki, one of the worst world #1’s ever on the female side, was awarded the top seed among the ladies, despite her early exit from Roland Garros in meek fashion, and without playing any tuneups on grass.  If not for the terrible state of the women’s game, we are dead certain that heavy consideration would have been given to someone else for the top spot.  With Clijsters withdrawing, and with her lack of big time success at Wimbledon, we doubt she’d have gotten the nod even if she were in the mix.  But would anyone in the world doubt that Clijsters, healthy, would have a lot better shot here than Wozniacki, who decided to play indoors last week at e-Bok in Copenhagen, on a cushy indoor track, rather than play on grass?

In fact, is there anyone out there right now who cares to stand up for Wozniacki and vouch for her chances at Wimbledon?  We’d bet Zvonareva, the Wimbledon and US runners-up, garnered a lot of consideration for the top seed, and that she’d have definitely gotten that slot had she won Wimbledon last year.  On this page, we delight in few things more than railing Jelena Jankovic, also one of the worst #1’s ever, and with very little to show for it.  While there are tons of similarities in their games, like hitting the forehand off the backfoot, weak serving, and passing on overheads, as well as, of course, the awful volleying, Jankovic does have 5 major semi-finals to her credit, and one major final.  Wozniacki, while younger, has 1 Australian Open semi on the books, as well as the 2009 US Open final in which she was taken out to the woodshed by Clijsters.

We thought Wozniacki had a great shot down under this year on the slow, awful Plexicushion, and in that heat that a pusher like her should be well ready for.  And then Na Li pounnded her.  We wrote in this space that it could be a now or never type of deal for Wozniacki.  With her inscrutably picked schedule and dumb camp, led by her Polish ex-pro soccer playing dad, we are leaning toward never at this point.  And we don’t like her attitude at all, especially after catching her self aggrandizing comments after e-Bok last week.

“I’m so happy to win this tournament in my home country – it’s a special feeling,” Wozniacki said afterwards. “This is my 17th title and last time I played here I had eight titles, so I’ve more than doubled that – it’s a good feeling. The last three matches my game has been at a very high level and I’m looking forward to going to London, and practicing and preparing for Wimbledon.”


She’s counting second rate trophies.  Her priorities are mixed up.  As we’ve said here, 3 tournaments on green clay?  This year?  Does she not know that red and green clay play very differently?  Obviously the 3 titles she took on the green clay did nothing for her in her matchup with Hantuchova in France in which she won 4 games.  Just like playing on soft hards in June doesn’t get one ready for Wimbledon.

Hopefully the right players get back to the right spots in the women’s game because this is almost unwatchable.  As much as we might fault Sharapova for her lack of sound fundamentals, she has power and toughness, as well as tremendous competitive spirit.  We find Wozniacki lacking in all of those areas.

We’d be very surprised if she does anything to bolster her resume at SW-19.  The green clay legends tour someday?  Maybe.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

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