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Promising Riba should get off to a flying start; FIRST ROUND Eurosport, from 10am.

BOOKMAKERS have been struggling to find a favourite in today's first-round clash between Ivan Dodig and Pere Riba - help them to do so by backing the Spaniard at 5-6, writes Adrian Humphries.

Both players have shown plenty of promise this season, but clay is Riba's best surface and this is a player who has a definite outside chance of reaching a Roland Garros final in the next few years.

Riba was an 11-10 chance in early shows on Friday, but that price and the subsequent evens and 9-10 were quickly mopped up about the Barcelona native progressing to the last 64.

Not that Dodig has done little wrong. The Croat has shown good character in the course of posting some encouraging results this year.

But Riba will stay out there rallying all day if he needs to and it's difficult to envisage Dodig having the weapons to break down the natural dirt-baller.

Rebecca Marino has made a big impression this year along with her fellow Canadian Milos Raonic, but the 20-year-old may find the going tough against resurgent Kateryna Bondarenko. Marino made her maiden WTA final in Memphis in February, but she has been finding the going tougher in recent months.

Bondarenko, 24, was crowned Wimbledon junior champion in 2004 and became the first Ukrainian to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam at the 2009 US Open.

She was ranked as high as 29th in the world in 2009 and victories over such rivals as Ekaterina Makarova, Shuai Zhang and Johanna Larsson this season suggest she is finally rediscovering her touch after a series of knee and foot injuries.

Mona Barthel enjoyed some cracking results last week in qualifying for the main draw and the German looks worth a small interest to upend experienced Austrian Sybille Bammer.

Barthel is only 20 and ranked a lowly 187th in the world, but she's clearly got a bright future judging by her 7-5 6-3 victory over Regina Kulikova on Friday.

She posted wins against Anna Floris, Alexandra Panova and Maria Elena Camerin on clay in Marbella last month before being edged out in three tight sets by Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Bammer, 31, can still be tough to thwart but the left-hander is a waning force on court as recent defeats to Arantxa Parra Santonja and Elena Baltacha testify.

Yaroslava Shvedova beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in China in 2008 and the 12-5 about their clash lasting three sets looks a fair price.

Recommendations P Riba 5pts 5-6 general K Bondarenko 1pt 11-10 Blue Square, Coral M Barthel 1pt 9-10 Boylesports Y Shvedova v A Pavlyuchenkova three sets 0.5pt 12-5 Victor Chandler


Pere Riba possesses the potential to reach a Roland Garros final in the next few years
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 22, 2011
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