On day four of the WTA Australian Open, a further 16 matches take place with the winners moving into the last 32 of the event. Our tennis columnist Dan Weston has found several underdogs who he thinks provide value...
"A deeper look at Blinkova's results in the second half of 2016 shows that at 18 years of age, she is an obviously talented player who is regularly reaching the latter stages of ITF events."
Solid Wednesday in Melbourne
As with the men's matches in Melbourne last night, we had a win and a loss in WTA action, but with both players recommended as underdogs, slight profit ensued.
Also, rather encouragingly, two of our outright selections recorded their second facile wins of the event, with both Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elina Svitolina easing past their opponents, for the loss of just three and five games respectively.
Our other outright selection, Ana Konjuh, faces Daria Gavrilova tonight, and I've seen worse bets than Konjuh at around even money against an opponent who struggled past Naomi Broady to get into this round. Gavrilova's very poor lead retention stats should also encourage the Croatian starlet.
However, my model also indicated value on several underdogs, with Naomi Osaka being one of those players. The Japanese talent looks big at 5.905/1 against Johanna Konta, but backers of Osaka must consider whether her wrist is 100% - Osaka herself claims that it's fine, but any bet on her would be very fitness-dependent.
Considering this, I prefer another match-up, with one of the tournament favourites, Karolina Pliskova taking on the little-known (to many) 18 year old Russian player, Anna Blinkova.
Prior to the Australian Open, Blinkova's WTA main tour experience was restricted to one match at WTA Moscow in October having qualified (beating good players in those qualifiers) and she beat top-35 player Anastasija Sevastova before withdrawing before her second round match with Konjuh.
This inexperience was far from evident as she beat Monica Niculescu in three sets, and again, the Russian prospect earned some good wins in qualifying as well against the likes of Sesil Karatantcheva and Aleksandra Krunic.
A deeper look at Blinkova's results in the second half of 2016 shows that at 18 years of age, she is an obviously talented player who is regularly reaching the latter stages of ITF events, and her hold/break statistics are also impressive, showing her to be a good all-round player.
These stats were so impressive that Pliskova looks very short indeed at the current 1.061/18, and there is no reason why Blinkova cannot cover the game handicap with a large head start.
The main game handicap line for Blinkova is +6.5, and this is currently available at 2.021/1. Pliskova has only covered this line seven times from the 20 matches that she started priced at 1.20 or below since January 2015, and this historical tendency is another positive to our position on Blinkova this evening.
Back Anna Blinkova +6.5 games to beat Karolina Pliskova at 2.021/1
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