With the quarter-finals of the WTA Australian Open starting on Tuesday, Dan Weston runs the rule over the two matches, and thinks that a veteran can roll back the years and earn a semi-final berth...
"These mediocre return numbers for Pavlyuchenkova, both short-term and long-term, indicate why she has been unable to push through to being ranked in the top ten."
Favourites thrive on day eight
Monday's action from Melbourne Park was rather more predictable than the preceding seven days, with all four favourites making it through in straight sets. Arguably Johanna Konta's 6-1 6-4 demolition of Ekaterina Makarova was the most impressive, and the Brit is now into fourth favourite at 6.86/1 to win the tournament, with Serena Williams favourite at a current 2.9215/8 at the time of writing.
As I predicted yesterday, Williams would be able to recover break deficits against Barbora Strycova, and the American indeed managed this feat, recovering three break deficits in the first set.
Bettors should not fear Venus drift
The older Williams sister, Venus, takes to the courts at midnight UK time, with the market finding it tough to split her and the Russian, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Williams is the current 1.9620/21 favourite on the Exchange, but she has drifted from opening lines with most bookmakers.
Having said this, I recently performed drift analysis in the ATP here via tennisratings.co.uk and my research indicated that the market tends to fear drifters irrationally, with there being something of a herd mentality in spots like these. If the WTA was to produce similar results, the price movement on Williams should be something to be taken advantage of, as opposed to feared.
Quite simply, despite the age-related decline of Williams' serve, she is still a better player than Pavlyuchenkova, despite the Russian's improvement in January. In the last 12 months, she has held serve more (66.3% compared to 64.4%) on hard courts, and broken opponents significantly more (45.5% compared to 37.1%).
Even taking into account 2017 stats in isolation, the numbers favour Williams - she has held serve 79.6% this season, compared to 74.4% for Pavlyuchenkova, and broken opponents serve 52.2% compared to 36.7%. These mediocre return numbers for Pavlyuchenkova, both short-term and long-term, indicate why she has been unable to push through to being ranked in the top ten.
Based on all the data, Williams looks to be a very good thing at these prices, and with stellar break deficit recovery numbers as well, opposing Pavlyuchenkova when trading at short prices with a view to hedging at a bigger price is a trading strategy which can also considered.
Tough to find angles in the second match on the schedule
The second match, between Coco Vandeweghe and Garbine Muguruza, is likely to be significantly more serve-orientated, and the Spaniard is trading as a favourite currently, at 1.584/7.
When assessing social media, the American, Vandeweghe, certainly has her supporters here, but with my model agreeing with the market prices and the likelihood of in-set swings lower than average, this looks to be a match best watched.
Back Venus Williams to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at 1.9620/21
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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