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BNP Paribas Open: Na Li far from certain to conquer compatriot

| 11.03.2012

Andy Murray’s shock loss to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez showed that nobody is safe in the early round at Indian Wells. Will the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Victoria Azarenka follow suit on Sunday night?

Marcos Baghdatis to beat Feliciano Lopez @ 8/15

Lopez is the seed for this encounter, but given his poor record at this event – reaching the third round just twice in nine tries – and the fact that he is 0-2 against Baghdatis on hard courts, the odds favour the opposite outcome.

Baghdatis claimed a solid victory over Jeremy Chardy in his opener and beat Lopez in straight sets the last time that they met in Rotterdam, yet a repeat is a tempting 11/8 prospect.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to beat Michael Llodra @ 1/6

There is only one outcome deemed likely in this all-French showdown, with Tsonga rated a 1/6 favourite to see off his doubles-specialist compatriot.

Llodra required a third-set tie break against Ernests Gulbis to get this far, and has lost his four prior meetings with Tsonga, two via retirement.

However, the two complete contests went 25 and 30 games respectively, so over 21.5 appears an appetising wager at 5/6.

Jie Zheng to beat Na Li @ 13/8

This pair are two of China’s top three stars on the WTA circuit but this will be their first collision in six years, with Zheng rather surprisingly the winner of all four of their previous matches.

The lower ranked of the duo is also the one to have lifted silverware already this season, triumphing in her first tournament of the year in Auckland, so despite unremarkable form since, is an intriguing outsider at 13/8.

Victoria Azarenka to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova @ 1/6

Kuznetsova has reached the final at Indian Wells twice before but isn’t viewed as a genuine threat to Australian Open champion Azarenka’s unbeaten start to 2012.

The Russia is 4-1 against the world number one, two of those wins coming at Grand Slams, but is a bit of a fading force and hasn’t met Azarenka since her rise to the top of the rankings.

She is better rested than her opponent though after benefiting from a retirement in thelast round, while Azarenka went the distance with Mona Barthel, so the 3/1 on the favourite winning 2-1 is worth considering.



Richard Anderson