After a fascinating first day's play at the Australian Open, the ladies singles first round action continues with a number of big name players in action. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, checks out the value...
"Heather Watson is another player with an often variable level but she had an excellent run in Hobart last week, losing in the semi-finals having qualified, and she has above a 50% record on hard court over the last three years at WTA main draw level."
Kumkhum gives us an opening day winner
We went one from one on the opening day with Luksika Kumkhum recording a relatively facile win over Johanna Larsson, and we have 32 matches in the top half of the draw to build on this solid start to the competition, but it's actually a pretty tough card on day two, despite the abundance of matches. As always in opening rounds of Slams, it's very important to be cautious - it's a marathon, and not a sprint.
Kvitova and Radwanska priced more on name than current level
Some of the players who look vulnerable as heavy favourites include Petra Kvitova, who is [1.24] to get the better of the German veteran, Andrea Petkovic, despite not having shown a particularly high level in her comeback to tour. However, Petkovic herself is in decline, and Kvitova is likely to enjoy the fast-medium conditions a little more. Agnieszka Radwanska (against the competent Kristyna Pliskova) is another big name in decline who looks short-priced tomorrow.
Erratic Giorgi not to be trusted against promising Kalinskaya
Camila Giorgi, after some strong displays last week, also looks over-rated against the young Russian qualifier, Anna Kalinskaya, and we've seen many times over the years that the erratic Italian can frequently go from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The 19-year-old Kalinskaya has some decent potential, and impressed in qualifying against three players with more experience, including bagel-ing Vera Zvonareva as a [2.7] underdog. She also should enjoy these relatively pacy conditions, with some decent success in some ITF events played on carpet at the end of last season. Those willing to take a chance on Kalinskaya might wish to avail themselves of the 11/10 with the Sportsbook giving her a +4.5 game head start on the handicap.
Watson with a large statistical edge over Putintseva
Heather Watson is another player with an often variable level but she had an excellent run in Hobart last week, losing in the semi-finals having qualified, and she has above a 50% record on hard court over the last three years at WTA main draw level.
We can't say that for her opponent, Yulia Putintseva, who can't even boast a 40% win rate on what is her worst surface, and in the last 12 months, Watson has won 5.9% more service points and 1.2% more on return than her Kazakh counterpart. Therefore, the [1.63] about the Brit to make it into round two looks an enticing price.
Bogdan with a solid chance of extending Mladenovic misery
My model also quite liked Ana Bogdan, with the Romanian - still yet to break the top 100 at the age of 25 - facing Kristina Mladenovic, who has lost 14 straight matches, including retirement last time out, yet is somehow seeded 11th in the tournament.
Last week's loss to 342nd ranked wild card Ellen Perez in Sydney was a new low for the Frenchwoman, and it wouldn't be a shock at all if Bogdan could prolong her misery, at a current price of [2.08].
Barty v Sabalenka the match of the round
In other matches, Simona Halep is unlikely to be troubled by Destinee Aiava, while if Oceane Dodin hadn't been inactive for four months, I'd be more enthused about her chances as a heavy underdog to beat the woeful Eugenie Bouchard.
Other players who get their campaigns under way on what is an action-packed card include Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, Karolina Pliskova and Ashleigh Barty, whose meeting with fellow big prospect Aryna Sabalenka is arguably the match of the round.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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