Australian Open Day Five Women's Tips: Pavlyuchenkova capable of underdog victory

Russian Tennis Player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova looks a value underdog on day five...

There are some fascinating clashes on day five of the Australian Open, with a number of very competitive-looking matchups. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, is back to preview the action...

"In addition, Pavlyuchenkova's hold/break data is solid enough (104.8% combined), as is her service/return points won combined percentage (101.4%), and both of these combined figures indicate that she's clearly an above average WTA hard courter."

Big names largely untroubled on day four

Thursday's matches in Melbourne largely went the way of favourites and big names, with the likes of Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Madison Keys, Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Simona Halep all progressing - only Halep was extremely tested, as anticipated, by Sofia Kenin.

Our pick, Garbine Muguruza, has just lost a second-set tiebreak to go into a deciding set against Johanna Konta at the time of writing on what has been a very delayed day four - the match didn't get underway until after 1:30pm UK time, considerably later than the originally scheduled start.

There's a quick turnaround with tomorrow's matches getting started at midnight UK time, and there are a couple of value spots on the schedule worth discussing.

Big prospect Anisimova capable of troubling Sabalenka

Firstly, if she's fit, I anticipate Amanda Anisimova will give Aryna Sabalenka a very tough match, although the market is understandably bullish on the chances of the older prospect, Sabalenka, pricing her at a short-looking 1.4640/85.

No doubt, Sabalenka's stats are strong, with a bias towards being pretty serve-orientated, but Anisimova's numbers since her main tour debut are magnificent.

In my opinion, the 17 year old is THE number one prospect on the WTA Tour right now - a huge accolade given the sheer volume of young talent around currently in the women's game - and on hard court in the last 12 months, Anisimova is running at 107.0% combined service/return points won.

These are stunning numbers for a young player, particularly one who is just 17 years of age, and I have little doubt that if she can continue her career progression, Anisimova will be one of the players to beat on tour in the not too distant future.

Pavlyuchenkova looking under-rated for Sasnovich clash

Our solitary defeat so far in the women's tournament came at the hands of Aliaksandra Sasnovich, with a strong performance on break points on serve being the main driver of her victory over Anett Kontaveit, and the Belarussian looks a little over-rated again at 1.758/11 for her match with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

'Pav' arrives here in good touch following a surprise win over one of our outright picks, Kiki Bertens, and I want to discuss her data in a little more detail.

Over the last 12 months, Pav has a losing record on hard court (11-13) but there are some clear reasons as to why this is the case. Firstly, she's 1-3 in tiebreaks, and secondly, she's running at worse than 4% underperformance on break points on return, based on her return points won percentage.

In addition, Pavlyuchenkova's hold/break data is solid enough (104.8% combined), as is her service/return points won combined percentage (101.4%), and both of these combined figures indicate that she's clearly an above average WTA hard courter, and that it would probably be a fair reflection of her ability for her record to be something like 14-10 or 15-9, as opposed to that 11-13 record.

Given this, it seems reasonable to assume that Pavlyuchenkova is under-rated by the market on hard court, and it's also worth noting that she won two hard court matches against Sasnovich relatively easily last year, including a 6-3 6-4 win in Tokyo towards the end of last season. Has Sasnovich improved so much that Pavlyuchenkova's price of around 1.804/5 that day should be virtually reversed? It is difficult to make that argument, in my view.

Martic not without a chance against inconsistent Stephens

stephens 1280.jpg

In other matches, Petra Martic isn't without a chance at 3.505/2 against Sloane Stephens, although of course it depends which version of the highly inconsistent Stephens turns up. She does seem to have a propensity to play well on the big stage though, which is probably why the market is quite bullish of Stephens' chances.

We also see a couple of very interesting clashes, with Petra Kvitova not a certainty at 1.292/7 to progress past Belinda Bencic, while Maria Sharapova versus Caroline Wozniacki is the undoubted match of the day. Wozniacki is a marginal favourite for this, which my model agreed with.

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