It's day eight at the Australian Open, with fourth round matches concluding in the women's singles event. With the strong favourites progressing on Sunday, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the Monday's action...
"Keys has the best service data in the event and with Garcia's return game being around the WTA mean (35.7% breaks on hard court in the last 12 months) it will be a tough job for Garcia to pressure the Keys serve on a regular basis."
Mertens gets the better of Martic in straight sets to provide us with a winner
We bagged another winner on Sunday with Elise Mertens winning by the required 2-0 scoreline against Petra Martic to continue her incredible record of winning in straight sets when a strong pre-match favourite - she now faces Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals on Tuesday, after the Ukrainian eased past Denisa Allertova for the loss of just three games.
Kerber now outright tournament favourite after market over-reaction
Despite such a convincing victory, Svitolina has now lost her tournament favourite status to Angelique Kerber, which isn't necessarily something I agree with, but we also still have two outright picks left in the competition, with Caroline Wozniacki thrashing Magdalena Rybarikova to make it through to the quarter-finals - she now faces Carla Suarez Navarro to progress further.
Outright pick Keys with trading potential against Garcia
Our other selection is Madison Keys, and the American big-server gets matters underway on Monday morning against the Frenchwoman, Caroline Garcia. Keys has the best service data in the event and with Garcia's return game being around the WTA mean (35.7% breaks on hard court in the last 12 months) it will be a tough job for Garcia to pressure the Keys serve on a regular basis.
Keys is the [1.69] favourite, and this line looks broadly correct to me, and I don't mind looking at spots in-play backing Keys at 0-30 or 15-40 type scorelines, with a view to trading out at 30-30 or deuce (or when broken, for a loss) - very short-term trades with controlled risk and decent upside. Those with greater tolerance to risk can also consider trading out after a hold.
Kerber short in outright market but correctly priced against Hsieh
In fact, all four matches on the schedule feature prices that my model doesn't consider particularly out of line, so such trading spots identified in advance are probably the best way to go - I won't recommend a bet when the numbers don't reflect any value - and Angelique Kerber's status as a [1.12] heavy favourite against giant-killer Su-Wei Hsieh looks a few ticks short, but nothing particularly noteworthy.
I don't agree with the incredible over-reaction to Kerber's 'form' this year - it appears the markets have forgotten her awful 2017 already - and the truth, as with many areas of life, is probably somewhere in between.
Question marks surround Halep's condition following epic victory over Davis
Following the conclusion of Hsieh v Kerber, Simona Halep faces Naomi Osaka, with the Romanian drifting in the outright markets following her 15-13 epic final set win over Lauren Davis on Saturday.
Certainly, it will be interesting to see just how much that victory will have affected Halep from a fitness perspective, and equally as interesting will be seeing how Osaka copes with her first match at this stage of a Grand Slam.
The Japanese big-server has the talent to make a big push up the rankings this year, but my model makes Halep fairly priced at [1.54] to make it through.
Pliskova a strong favourite against another Czech opponent
Finally, Karolina Pliskova is a heavy [1.33] favourite against another of her countrywomen in Barbora Strycova, and I'd be surprised if Strycova could challenge Pliskova in what are conditions that should suit the big-server.
If Pliskova does progress, she will face the winner of Halep and Osaka, and in a hypothetical match against the more high profile Halep, I'd make Pliskova a pretty solid favourite at the time of writing.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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