Gary Boswell, who advised backing eventual runner-up Sabine Lisicki at 80.079/1 ahead of Wimbledon last year, is back with his big priced back-to-lay chances for the Australian Open...
"There will be those who think she can't overcome the nerves that affect her in front of her home crowd but she does have the rare accolade of beating Serena in a Grand Slam final already under her belt and I'll never forget the French Open quarter-final win which was the first time anyone had ever outpowered Serena on a women's tennis court."
Plenty of people consider Serena Williams a shoo-in for her 18th Grand Slam title and her sixth Australian Open title in Melbourne next week.
She's 1.8810/11 in a 128-runner field and, from a sporting perspective, she's a difficult winner to argue about. The betting price however is far from enticing and there's only one decision for the punter.
We have to take her on because she is beatable - as seen in two of the past three Aussie Opens. Two of Serena's conquerors in that spell are on my list of six outsiders to follow back-to-lay in the outright market.
Ekaterina Makarova, who trades at 240.0239/1, beat Williams in 2012. She is up to 23 in the world rankings and is fresh back from a four-month lay-off. She celebrated that with an impressive first round win in Sydney against another of the shortlist candidates Jelena Jankovic , who trades at 130.0129/1.
Serena's 2013 conqueror Sloane Stephens, available at 75.074/1, is also on the list despite Williams putting the record straight against her at Flushing Meadows. That of course is the most impressive thing about Serena long-term. She doesn't like getting beat and often keeps a mental note to play her best against those who have recently conquered her.
Sabine Lisicki, who trades at 110.0109/1, will be number one target for Serena after the Wimbledon turnover predicted in this column and while I have the German on my list of six who has the serve, the form and the mental fortitude to stick with the world number one, she's not my favourite hope on the hard court surface. She is however the only one of the six with a recent plus score against Serena. That counts for something the way Williams is currently playing
I'd like to say Svetlana Kuznetsova 510.0509/1 was my best hope but her price is a fair reflection on a Russian who is the Gollum of the women's tennis world. Which side of her character will turn up? That's if she turns up at all.
While Justine Henin has described Kuznetsova as the the best technical player on the current circuit, she traditionally struggles with the power hitters and can convince herself that winning is not an option in any given match. That said, she has won two Slam events purely on class and does have the occasional win over Serena in her locker. At the price, worth having her in your portfolio.
Give her Sam Stosur's 60.059/1 right bicep and you'd increase our chances. Give Stosur Kuznetsova's class and we'd have a gilt edged Serena beater but the Australian ranks as my best shot nevertheless.
There will be those who think she can't overcome the nerves that affect her in front of her home crowd but she does have the rare accolade of beating Serena in a Grand Slam final already under her belt and I'll never forget the French Open quarter-final win which was the first time anyone had ever outpowered Serena on a women's tennis court.
If she can handle the home crowd expectations, Stosur has a chance and comes into the tournament in better form than is normal for her at this time of year.
Recommended Bets (all back-to-lay)
Back Sam Stosur at 60.059/1
Back Sloane Stephens at 75.074/1
Back Sabine Lisicki at 110.0109/1
Back Jelena Jankovic at 130.0129/1
Back Ekaterina Makarova at 240.0239/1
Back Svetlana Kuznetsova at 510.0509/1
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