WTA Australian Open Day 2: Watson can continue Stosur's decline

Sam Stosur's data from the last six months is woeful...
Sam Stosur's data from the last six months is woeful...

It's another packed schedule on day two of the Australian Open women's draw, and our tennis columnist Dan Weston has found several slight underdogs who are value overnight...

"In the last six months, the 32 year old Stosur has shown age-related decline, winning a mere four matches from 15 outings, breaking opponents a woeful 23.2% of the time."

A mixed bag on day one

Last night's action provided us with a winner and a loser, with Ash Barty getting the better of Annika Beck in straight sets, but Kurumi Nara succumbing to Stefanie Voegele despite taking the first set easily.

However, my post-draw outright fancies Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elina Svitolina cruised into the second round, and both have shortened in the market already.

Underdogs the value on day two

We have a fair few options in the WTA on Tuesday, particularly with those priced as a marginal underdog, although I again want to make the point that I prefer to be extremely cautious in the opening round of events.

The match-up I want to look at is scheduled to start at midnight, with Irina Falconi taking on Xinyun Han, and I like the chances of the Chinese player at the current 2.486/4 Exchange odds.

Indeed, my model made Han the favourite for this clash, at around 1.705/7, and on a general basis, I am keen to oppose Falconi, whose 12-month hold/break data comes in at a combined 88.1%, with extreme deficiencies on serve.

She's expected to hold serve 56.3% of the time for this match, and it's also worth noting that these deficiencies are highlighted by the American losing 61.2% of first break leads when leading in sets since July 2014 - a figure much worse than the WTA mean.

While Han is certainly nothing special herself, she certainly doesn't deserve to be underdog at this price against such a mediocre player.

Cabrera can build on ITF form

I also like the chances of the young Australian player, Lizette Cabrera, at 2.829/5 against the Croatian, Donna Vekic. It seems like a long time ago that I wrote that Vekic was a player who could break the top ten in the world eventually, and I'll maintain that her stats at the age of 16 were truly incredible.

However, the subsequent years have not been kind to Vekic, and her game has worsened, as opposed to the natural age-related improvement.

Vekic's service hold numbers and lead retention data are main areas that she would need extreme improvement, and I'm amazed to see her as a 1.548/15 favourite against an opponent who will enjoy home crowd support, and who has reached the final of three second-tier ITF events since September, winning two.

Declining veterans

Two veterans also look vulnerable as a favourite - the decreasing level of both Sam Stosur and Lucie Safarova was noted in the pre-draw tournament preview, and these players can be upset by Heather Watson at 2.0811/10 and Yanina Wickmayer 2.6813/8, respectively.

In the last six months, the 32 year old Stosur has shown age-related decline, winning a mere four matches from 15 outings, breaking opponents a woeful 23.2% of the time. Her service numbers of 64.9% are also around 10% down from her usually strong normal percentages.

While it is difficult to enthuse about Watson, she does have a reasonable hard court record, and performed well enough in the Hopman Cup, taking sets from Belinda Bencic and Kristina Mladenovic, both when underdog, and beating Andrea Petkovic, also as an underdog.

Another positive for Watson is Stosur's woeful record in her home country, where she has won just 21 of her last 50 matches, and a 24-22 career record as favourite in Australia illustrates that she suffers from the pressure of performing in front of her home crowds.

Given her issues with injury and illness, Safarova's decline is likely to be slightly more reversible than Stosur's, but the Czech player has won just four from 15 matches on hard court in the last 12 months, breaking opponents just 23.8%. She has much to prove before I refine my opinion that she is extremely over-rated, and against a competent opponent in Wickmayer she looks very short-priced indeed.

Recommended Bets
Back Xinyun Han to beat Irina Falconi at 2.486/4
Back Lizette Cabrera to beat Donna Vekic at 2.829/5
Back Heather Watson to beat Sam Stosur at 2.0811/10
Back Yanina Wickmayer to beat Lucie Safarova at 2.6813/8

Watch the Australian Open on Betfair Live Video!

Betfair customers will be able to watch the Australian Open on our Live Video service on both the Sportsbook and Exchange. This service is only available to customers in the UK and Ireland.

We will also be offering game-by-game betting for all singles matches on the main three courts at the Australian Open, and then all matches from the quarter-finals onwards.

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles