After the completion of Wednesday's quarter-finals, the women's singles at the Australian Open moves swiftly onto the semi-final stage. Dan Weston previews the action...
"The duo have met four times previously on the main tour, and interestingly, the matches have been extremely return-orientated, with both players holding around the 60% mark and winning around 55% of service points - if that continues, expect a rollercoaster with plenty of breaks of serve."
Barty just over even money to win the tournament
Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza were victorious in Wednesday's quarter-finals in Melbourne, and they meet tomorrow in the second semi-final in the women's singles tomorrow, scheduled not before 430am UK time.
However, prior to this, tournament favourite Ashleigh Barty meets Sofia Kenin and the world number one is now into 11/82.34 to win the title. Kenin, at 17/29.4 is the outright market underdog for the title with Halep at 9/43.25 and Muguruza priced at 5/16.0 at the time of writing.
Kenin not a million miles from value
For this match though, Barty is priced at 4/111.37 to get past Kenin and make the final, and I make this a little short, although not abundantly. Kenin is 3.65 here which isn't a million miles from value, but it's not enough for me to consider worthwhile.
Barty has won four of their previous five meetings - all within the last two years - and the four meetings last year were more relevant given that their first match-up, at Charleston in 2018, was when Kenin was ranked just inside the top 100. This is obviously a different match-up tomorrow.
Kenin will need to improve service numbers from previous meetings
In those matches, Kenin has struggled a little on serve winning around 55% of service points and holding a little more than 60% of the time which she will need to hugely improve on tomorrow, although she should be capable of doing so given her general statistical improvement and rise up the rankings.
Throughout the tournament so far, Kenin has won a slightly higher percentage of points on serve but Barty has a marginally bigger edge on return, so there isn't a ton between them so far in the competition. I think Kenin can be pretty competitive here, and I wouldn't be even shocked if she won, but for me there isn't much value here pre-match.
Halep accurately priced as market favourite
Following this, Halep is a 4/61.67 favourite over Muguruza and again, I make this about right. Halep has a very slight hold/break and also service/return points won percentage edge on hard court looking at 12 month data, so the market doesn't really seem out of line here either.
The duo have met four times previously on the main tour, and interestingly, the matches have been extremely return-orientated, with both players holding around the 60% mark and winning around 55% of service points - if that continues, expect a rollercoaster with plenty of breaks of serve.
My projected hold model has both player's projected hold percentage for this match as being below the WTA mean, but only by a couple of percentage points really, but certainly it's difficult to anticipate a match where serve dominates here.
However, with the market reasonably accurate for both matches today, there's no recommendation on Thursday.
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