Can Angelique Kerber finally stop the rot and halt her five-match losing streak?
<div><h2><b>Nicole Gibbs vs. Angelique Kerber(4)</b></h2><h2> </h2><p><strong>Wednesday, September 18, Osaka</strong><br /><br />It´s been quite the journey for Nicole Gibbs this season. The former NCAA singles and doubles Champion had decided to act upon a promo offer for a new dentist back in April. And it would change everything. Nicole´s worst nightmare had always been to fall ill in cancer, and that was exactly what the new dentist would discover. The diagnosis hit hard.<br /><br />[...]"I made the mistake of going to WebMD and doing a Google search for oral cancer because I didn't have any more specifics at that point, and the first thing that popped up was "17 percent five-year survival rate." I thought, "Oh cool, I'm going to die."<br /><br />Luckily, albeit rare, this diagnosis wasn´t as serious as Gibbs first thought. After undergoing surgery in late May, the current world number 118 came back to tennis on the ITF tour in July. The comeback went well, reaching the Honulu final, and Gibbs has since played some very decent tennis. Qualifying for the US Open, the Amrerican pushed Simona Halep to three very tough sets in round 1. Gibbs has yet again qualified for this tournament, and has impressed mightily in not dropping a set. With three victories under her belt already, including a 6-4, 6-3 win over Kerber-killing Riske, she´ll be confident in this affair.<br /><br />Angelique Kerber´s woes continue to worsen. After succumbing to yet another first match defeat, the German is on a five-match losing streak and hasn´t won since the first round of Wimbledon. Despite leading Alison Riske in her most recent match in Zhengzhou on multiple occasions, including serving for the match, she couldn´t close out the win. The former world no.1´s confidence must certainly be quite low at the moment, and she´s now slid down to a ranking of world no. 15. Kerber still hasn´t won a single title this year, and last year´s Wimbledon Champion will have a massive opportunity to do so here. With no points to defend this week, perhaps this can be the start of a late season resurgence for the 31-year old.<br /><br />Nicole Gibbs has impressed in her first three matches here in Osaka, and will have adjusted to the conditions as well as come in confident. Angelique Kerber on the other hand comes in ice cold, and in dire need of a win. Getting over the line has been an almighty struggle for the German lately though, and four of her last five matches have gone the full three sets. In this first time meeting, there is no reason to suspect Gibbs won´t be a tricky customer, and Kerber won´t have it all go her way. We´re again likely to see a brutal battle, and though the former world no. 1 will eventually break out of her slump, it won´t be without a few stumbles. With Unibet offering up 2.70 for the match to go the full three sets, we pounce.<br /><br /><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=4fd3c129-b898-4816-9a61-9f7e8f34295a&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Tennis Betting Odds"><b><i>Best bet: Over 2.5 sets at 2.70 (17/10) with [Unibet] </i></b><i>1u</i></a></p><h2><a href="http://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=164&a=f339dce1-88de-4994-ab6a-c24e019bdf3b&f=3" target="_blank"><img alt src="https://cmscdn.staticcache.org/assets/image/0003/1348572/WHC_27064_Updated-In-Play-Tennis-Insurance_1280x480NEW.jpg" style="width:100%" /></a><br /><br /><b>Casper Ruud(8) vs. Alexander Bublik</b></h2><h2> </h2><p><strong>Wednesday, September 18, St. Petersburg</strong><br /><br />Casper Ruud is one of the brightest stars Norwegian tennis has seen in a long time. In fact, Norway hasn´t a seen a player like him since his father, Christian Ruud, was active. The former world no. 39 would see his son go in his footsteps, as Casper quickly fell in love with the sport. A supreme talent, the Norwegian was the youngest ever winner of the National Championships back in 2014, only 15 years of age. Idolizing Rafael Nadal, Ruud has practiced at his academy and adores the red dirt. Most of his success thus far has come on clay, and the 20-year old has made the Houston final, Rome R16, Kitzübhel semfinal - and Roland Garros R3 this season. These strong showings have caused him to rise to a world no. 60 ranking in 2019.<br /><br />His opponent, Alexander Bublik, certainly doesn´t share that same love for the dirt. The Kazakh enigma almost exclusively plays on outdoor or indoor hard courts, making up 73.2% of his career matches. Bublik has mostly played on the Challenger level this season with great results, winning two indoors titles in Budapest and Pau - along with one outdoors in Monterrey. Equipped with a thunderous serve, the 22-year old performed well in Newport, defeating several established names enroute to the final. His unorthodox style can throw the opponents off, but is rarely effective outside of faster surfaces. Coming from a third round showing at the slower hard court conditions at the US Open will give the Kazakh confidence here though.<br /><br />Both of these players are of similar strength and closely ranked. However, Ruud has never showed that much promise outside of the dirt. In fact, this will be the Norwegian´s first ever ATP main draw indoors match. Bublik on the other hand often plays his best tennis indoors, and has racked up a 66% career win rate on the surface. Here in Russia, the Kazakh made back-to-back quarterfinals in Moscow as a qualifier in 2016-17. With two Challenger titles already to his name on the surface this year, the advantage over clay court-specialist Ruud is palpable. All things considered, the Kazakh should be made the favourite in this contest. At 1.72 with Pinnacle, betting on him to win appeals.<br /><br /><a href="http://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=155&a=6a145d2b-505f-491b-a70e-2f5f31742828&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Tennis Betting Odds"><b><i>Best bet: </i></b><b><i>Alexander Bublik to win at 1.72 (18/25) with [Pinnacle] </i></b><i>1.5u</i></a><br /> </p></div>