WTA Australian Open Day 7: Barthel a vulnerable front-runner against Williams

Venus Williams can fight back from break deficits against Mona Barthel...
Venus Williams can fight back from break deficits against Mona Barthel...

With a number of leading contenders in action on day seven of the WTA Australian Open, our tennis columnist Dan Weston assesses the four matches on the schedule...

"Despite Williams' age-related decline, the American has managed to still retain her fighting qualities, and she has recovered the first break deficit in set three a particularly impressive 72.7% of the time since July 2014."

Main contenders through on Sunday

The main contenders for glory in the women's event came through Saturday's matches, although it's fair to say that Serena Williams and Johanna Konta's progress was far more serene than Karolina Pliskova's, with the tournament third-favourite eventually overcoming Jelena Ostapenko 10-8 in the final set after being a double break down at 2-5.

Our outright hope, Svetlana Kuznetsova, is in action in the first match on court tomorrow, and at midnight UK time she takes on her Russian compatriot, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Kuznetsova is the pre-match favourite, trading at a current 1.784/5 on the Exchange, and my model agreed with her being favoured, as it largely did with all of tomorrow's WTA matches.

On the whole, pre-match market inefficiencies decrease when higher-profile players face each other, and this is indeed the case in the WTA here. Given that today's price is roughly correct, I'm more than happy to let that outright position continue.


Several trading options tomorrow

Trading angles are also thin on the ground, with the matches likely to be quite serve-orientated - particularly the final match tomorrow, between the top seed, Angelique Kerber and Coco Vandeweghe - but I do feel that two underdogs, Mona Barthel and Sorana Cirstea, can be opposed for small stakes in-play if they trade significantly shorter than their starting prices.

Of these two, Barthel looks the better choice to oppose as a front-runner, with her opponent, Venus Williams very strong at recovering break deficits. Despite Williams' age-related decline, the American has managed to still retain her fighting qualities, and she has recovered the first break deficit in set three a particularly impressive 72.7% of the time since July 2014.

Overall, Williams' deficit recovery is very strong, and she's recovered 63.2% of first break deficits in that time period - well above the 50.3% WTA mean.

Laying Barthel when a break up in a set, when leading or level in sets (therefore trading below starting prices) is a solid option here, with my ideal exit points being a hedge for profit if Williams breaks back, or a hedge for a loss if Barthel wins the set.


Kerber can recover deficits on serve

There is also an in-play trading opportunity for Kerber's match, with the world number one not far from being a value favourite at 1.331/3 against the very mediocre returner, Coco Vandeweghe. The American big-server's poor return data contributed to the German having a very high 79.3% projected hold percentage, and this opens up options for backing Kerber on serve.

My preference is to back Kerber to win the game in the game-by-game betting markets if she falls behind in service games - particularly at 0-30 and 15-40.

Recommended Bets
Lay Mona Barthel if she leads by a break, and is leading/level in sets against Venus Williams
Back Angelique Kerber to win the game if she is 0-30 or 15-40 down on serve against Coco Vandeweghe

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