The betting for the women's draw at the French Open is, as expected, headed by Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova but Gary Boswell believes there is more value in picking some high priced outsiders and backing to lay...
It is said that when Serena Williams is playing her 'A game' with the service in the zone, she cannot be beaten.
The world number is rightly now called best women's player ever and she has a 12-2 record over her main rival, Maria Sharapova, for the upcoming French Open title. This head-to-head includes two wins the only times the pair have met on the clay surface. Both wins, the most recent of which was in Madrid last year, were in straight sets.
So this means that 4.03/1 is a steal of a price on Serena? Especially as we know she is that much more focused for the Grand Slams?
Not necessarily. A study of the results on the surface makes for interesting reading. You have been able to get 7.06/1 and bigger about Williams for the past six years at Roland Garros simply because she doesn't have a great record in the tournament and has only made the semi-finals twice - the last time as far back as 2003.
The slower surface means Serena has less opportunity to power through opponents and often finds herself having to deal with returns that wouldn't have come back over the net elsewhere. She would also be the first to confess a distaste for 'the slide' - the split leg strategy you can use on the loose clay top surface that doesn't work on any other court.
Sharapova looks the more obvious market favourite on current form so her price of 5.24/1 will interest her fans. That head-to-head against Serena would worry me though. On balance, both look a bit short in the market and when you add in Australian Open Champion Victoria Azarenka at 6.411/2 - who has no kind of record on clay at all - you have a layers market on the top three in the betting.
The French Open has a record of throwing up an outsider. Francesca Schiavone was available at 200.0199/1 on Betfair before the tournament prior to winning in 2010 and is 100.099/1 again this time despite coming into the event in terrific form, having won in Marrakesh without dropping a set.
She suits the surface and can overcome the power advantage of the Serenas and the Wozniackis when she gets on to clay. As indeed can compatriots Sara Errani (29.028/1), Flavia Pennetta (250.0249/1) and Roberta Vinci (140.0139/1) - all of whom can be supported with a view to a back-to-lay. It won't surprise me to see at least two Italians in the final eight.
While we are talking outsiders, it's worth noting the form of Schiavone's Marrakech final victim, the 32-year-old Lourdes Dominguez Lino - a stalwart of the clay game. A career high ranking of 40 is within her grasp again now and she has had recent notable wins over Pironkova and Pennetta. The Spaniard has a decent chance of bettering her best ever of third round and is worth trading at a big price once the market develops.
Recommended Bets (all back-to-lay)
Francesca Schiavone at 100.099/1
Sara Errani at 29.028/1
Flavia Pennetta at 250.0249/1
Roberta Vinci at 140.0139/1
Lourdes Dominguez Lino