Fourth round action at the Australian Open continues on Monday, and after a superb day's play on Sunday, Dan Weston returns to preview the action...
"Monday's action will see who joins the winning quartet from Sunday in the quarter-finals, and my model almost identically replicated the market prices in the four matches tomorrow. The favourites are justified, and all are at around 1.501/2 or below on the Exchange at the time of writing."
Williams defeats Sabalenka on day seven
We managed to pick up another winner in our improving campaign on Sunday with the slight pre-match underdog Serena Williams edging Aryna Sabalenka in three sets, although there was a touch of good fortune about the American legend's victory given that she faced more break points than Sabalenka and they actually won 94 points each in the match.
Given the variance involved with top level tennis, it's nice to have some on our side for a change and Naomi Osaka was also fortunate to progress over Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard, Muguruza, had two match points when Osaka was *3-5 15-40 down, but Osaka held serve and charged over the winning line reeling off four consecutive games to take the final set 7-5.
Simona Halep overcame Iga Swiatek in three sets, while Su-Wei Hsieh became a surprise quarter-finalist, getting the better of Marketa Vondrousova in two sets. Osaka is now a solid favourite to lift the trophy, at 2.6813/8, and I'm unconvinced about the merits of this price given the rather level standard at the top of the WTA Tour currently.
Svitolina almost identical in price to Abu Dhabi match
Monday's action will see who joins the winning quartet from Sunday in the quarter-finals, and my model almost identically replicated the market prices in the four matches tomorrow.
The favourites are justified, and all are at around 1.501/2 or below on the Exchange at the time of writing.
Elina Svitolina has generally underwhelmed in Grand Slam events over the last few years but has a decent chance of making the quarter-finals at least, facing Jessica Pegula tomorrow. Svitolina is the 1.491/2 favourite, and this is almost identical to her price against the same opponent on the first week of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Svitolina won that match in straight sets, and has a better medium-term and long-term hard court record which gives her that justified favourtism. However, since the tour resumed last summer, Pegula has impressed and has broadly similar all-surface data to the Ukrainian during this time period - it will be interesting to see how she performs against a top-ten opponent.
Brady a strong favourite to continue tournament
That match is first on court, scheduled for midnight UK time, and following this, our outright pick for quarter two - Jennifer Brady - continues her campaign against Donna Vekic, who got us an excellent underdog win on Saturday against Kaia Kanepi.
Brady is something of a hard-court specialist and looks accurately priced at 1.341/3 to get to the quarter-final stage, where she'd need one further win to get us that quarter winner.
The American has been superb on her preferred surface since the tour resumed, running at not far from 110% combined service/return points won, and looks a real threat to anyone in this draw.
Mertens with superb post-lockdown numbers
Later on in the schedule, at more acceptable times for European viewers, Elise Mertens faces Karolina Muchova and home favourite Ash Barty takes on Shelby Rogers.
Mertens is another player who has impressed since the tour resumed and the Belgian is another player who has a genuine chance of making continued progress in the coming week. On hard courts since the tour resumed, she has even better data than Brady and a potential quarter-final for Mertens against Barty would be a real test for the world number one. She's 1.511/2 to get the win over the big-serving, and improving, Muchova.
Rogers capable of testing Barty
Finally, I'm anticipating a serve-orientated clash between Barty and Rogers, with even the underdog, Rogers, having a projected hold percentage of almost 80% according to my model. Both players have much better service numbers than return numbers, compared to the tour mean figures, and while Barty looks realistically priced at 1.271/4, Rogers gave her a tough match last week in the Yarra Valley Classic warm-up event where Barty came through in a final set tiebreak but Rogers actually won more points in the match. Rogers had an excellent win over Anett Kontaveit on Saturday and it wouldn't surprise me at all if this match ends up closer than the market would anticipate.
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