Dan Weston previews the remaining two women's singles quarter-finals at the Australian Open on Wednesday, including a tricky assignment for Ashleigh Barty...
"Since the tour resumed, Muchova has been playing at a strong level - albeit not elite - running at around 105% combined service/return points won. However, this is ballpark top 10-15 level and illustrates that she's a player on a decent upward curve."
Williams and Osaka win to set up semi-final clash
There were victories for Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka on Tuesday, both in straight sets, and their wins create a superb-looking semi-final between the duo on Thursday. Following these matches, Osaka is the 2.588/5 outright favourite, with Williams vying for second-favourite to win the tournament with Ashleigh Barty at around the 4.2016/5 mark.
Muchova can keep it close in serve-orientated encounter
Barty continues her campaign tomorrow with a tricky-looking meeting against the Czech big-server, Karolina Muchova, and I think that the 1.232/9 about the Australian looks reasonably short actually.
Since the tour resumed, Muchova has been playing at a strong level - albeit not elite - running at around 105% combined service/return points won. However, this is ballpark top 10-15 level and illustrates that she's a player on a decent upward curve.
We don't have much to go on with regards to Barty last season - she didn't play after the tour initially paused in March - but this year, her numbers are pretty stratospheric (114% combined). Having said that, both players have quite the serve-orientated dynamic, and we should see a competitive match without an abundance of break point opportunities.
Given this, the Muchova +4.5 game line at 2.0621/20 looks a reasonable option if you think that she represents some value. Barty is certainly a justified favourite but it wouldn't surprise me at all if Muchova gave a very good account of herself.
Brady one match away from winning quarter
Following this match is our quarter-winner outright pick, Jennifer Brady, who needs to defeat fellow American Jessica Pegula to give us a 6.4011/2 outright winner. For this, Brady looks pretty accurately priced at 1.4640/85, and she has a strong chance of giving us that quarter win.
Both players have impressed since the tour resumed, but Brady is playing to an extremely high level on hard courts post-lockdown, not far from the 110% combined mark, with Pegula around 105% - still excellent.
Brady has also won around 3% more service and return points than Pegula, and goes into this match as a justified favourite, and hasn't dropped a set en route to this stage, winning an impressive 74% of games played.
With the market looking right for this match, Muchova on the game handicap is our pick for Wednesday, which promises to be competitive and also I think likely to be dominated by service compared to the average WTA Tour match - all players have above-average serve numbers, which is something to bear in mind if you are getting involved with the in-play markets as well.
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