Australian Open Day Four: Muguruza can triumph in match of the day

Spanish Tennis Player Garbine Muguruza
Garbine Muguruza looks a value favourite to defeat Johanna Konta...

The second round of the Australian Open concludes on Thursday morning and back to give his thoughts on the schedule is our tennis columnist Dan Weston...

"In the last 12 months on hard court, Muguruza has a 3.1% edge on service hold percentage, and a 7.5% edge on breaking opponents, while the 10.6% contrast is similar if we look at the last six months."

Kontaveit fails to take chances in Sasnovich defeat

Wednesday went against us as we picked up our first women's loss of the tournament as the very slight underdog Anett Kontaveit fell in straight sets to Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Despite the 2-0 scoreline, the result could have been different if we consider that Kontaveit had four more break points than Sasnovich, but was only able to convert one of ten opportunities.

Thursday's competitors sign off on the round two action, looking to join Wednesday's victors in round three, and tomorrow is the last day of 16 matches on each singles tournament, so there will be a downward shift in the volume of daily matches.

Halep looking vulnerable against improving Kenin

A number of big names are in action, including Simona Halep, Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina, so it seems worthwhile giving my thoughts on this quartet.

Of the four, I feel Svitolina is the most accurately priced at 1.182/11 against Victoria Kuzmova and I feel that there is a case to be made for the other three being a little short.

Halep at 1.402/5 against the rapidly improving Sofia Kenin has a very tricky encounter indeed, and it will be a very good test of how fit she is after long-term injury. She didn't appear to be her best against Kaia Kanepi on Tuesday and Kenin, who is one of the rising stars on the WTA Tour, will have an excellent chance of taking advantage of any drop in Halep's level.

As for Serena, she faces Eugenie Bouchard who still has the propensity to be pretty inconsistent but the Canadian's data in the last six months is far from disastrous and she looks a little under-rated at 6.806/1 against the former world number one. If Bouchard can rediscover the level that got her to world number five, a shock could be on the cards.

As for Pliskova, she's 1.141/7 against Madison Brengle, who it must be said that I don't particularly rate at all. However, it's also worth noting that the Czech's data isn't at her peak level and while it would be a big surprise for her to lose to a player with poor service numbers and bad lead retention figures, she looks a bit over-rated at prices.

Muguruza with a decent statistical edge over Konta

Moving on from these matches, the player I like as value today comes in arguably the match of the day between Johanna Konta and Garbine Muguruza. Both players have had some fitness issues already this year and at this stage it's probably fair to cancel these out on each other.

Having said this, Muguruza had a much easier win in the opening round - Konta toughed out a final set tie-break against Ajla Tomljanovic.

At prices, I like Muguruza and this looks like a pretty rare value spot on the Spaniard. Subjectively, she seems to bring out her best in big matches and tournaments but I'm relying more on statistics to derive the value.

In the last 12 months on hard court, Muguruza has a 3.1% edge on service hold percentage and a 7.5% edge on breaking opponents, while the 10.6% contrast is similar if we look at the last six months. During that time period, Konta actually has a 0.8% advantage on serve, but Muguruza boasts a huge 11.0% edge on return (10.2% contrast) so there looks to be a clear ability disrepancy between the duo on hard courts during the last year or so, and more recently.

Despite this Muguruza is available at 1.635/8 on the Exchange, which I feel is some reasonable value with my model going shorter at 1.511/2.

Swiatek capable of shocking Giorgi

In other matches, Su-Wei Hsieh also looks a slight value favourite at 1.4840/85 against Laura Siegemund, while I'm intrigued to see how Iga Swiatek fares at 3.6013/5 against Camila Giorgi. Swiatek, who is a huge prospect, won her first ever main tour match on Tuesday against Ana Bogdan and if she isn't overawed by the occasion, could shock Giorgi, who looks a little short at 1.374/11. Another young prospect, Bianca Andreescu, is another not without a chance of causing an upset with the Canadian a 3.002/1 underdog against Anastasija Sevastova.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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