Saturday sees the women's singles final take place, with the match-up of Sofia Kenin and Garbine Muguruza rather unexpected. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the match...
"I'm surprised to see the market pricing, and particularly so given that when they met in Beijing towards the end of last season in their solitary career match (a three-set win for Kenin), the prices were virtually reversed with Kenin starting as around the 8/151.55 favourite."
Kenin in her first Grand Slam final
As I've said a number of times before, the vast majority of the better players on the WTA Tour are capable of beating each other on any given day, and this has certainly resulted in the line-up for the final of the Australian Open, with Sofia Kenin reaching her first Grand Slam final having never broken the top ten so far in her career.
In fact, the 21 year old American had never even reached a Grand Slam quarter final prior to this tournament, and this is rather uncharted territory for Kenin, and it is difficult to know how she will react in what is the biggest match of her career. However, she didn't freeze in her semi-final against home favourite Ashleigh Barty so there isn't an abundance of evidence that she will do so on Saturday.
Market lines looking questionable
The market, though, has different ideas. The Exchange currently has Muguruza at 5/81.64 with Kenin the underdog at 6/42.52, and this doesn't make much sense to me.
If we look at their hard court data across the last 12 months, Kenin has a 5.5% edge on hold percentage with Muguruza breaking almost 5% more, so Kenin is the better server with Muguruza having an advantage on return, but combined there is little difference between the duo. However, if we shorten the time span to the last six months, Kenin has a bigger edge on serve and a smaller disadvantage on return - essentially she's improving and that's reflected in the more recent data sample size.
Looking at their numbers for this tournament as well, the duo have both played to a relatively similar level, without a huge difference in games played to result in accumulated fatigue. Kenin has dropped one set fewer.
Prices almost reversed from Beijing meeting
So as you might be be able to infer, there isn't really much in the way of evidence to suggest Muguruza should be favourite here, and certainly not by such a margin. I'm surprised to see the market pricing, and particularly so given that when they met in Beijing towards the end of last season in their solitary career match (a three-set win for Kenin), the prices were virtually reversed with Kenin starting as around the 8/151.55 favourite.
With all this considered, we have to consider Kenin as value - yes, she might freeze on the big stage but given market pricing, she looks like the value option here.
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Back Sofia Kenin at 6/42.52 to beat Garbine Muguruza