Following the start of WTA Palermo yesterday, we have eight further matches on the schedule as the first round concludes. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to preview the action...
"Certainly, I make clay Tig's best surface and she reached three finals on the surface at varying levels between July and October last season, including in a main tour event in Bucharest, where she qualified and ran through the draw before succumbing to Elena Rybakina in the final."
Cirstea frustrates in defeat against Errani
We endured a frustrating start to the week in Palermo with Sorana Cirstea somehow losing in three sets to Sara Errani, and therefore failing to cover the -2.5 game handicap line. With Cirstea starting at around [1.40], we beat the market by not far from 20 ticks, as well as seeing the -2.5 game handicap line move to -4.5 games before the start of the match.
Not only this, but the Romanian managed to lose a three-hour epic despite creating far more break point chances, going eight from 21 on break points when Errani converted eight from her 13 opportunities, aptly illustrating the variance and fine margins often involved in professional tennis - something we've discussed on numerous occasions in the past.
Yesterday's matches comprised half of the round one card, and the other half - including the four qualifiers, who are now known - take to the courts today to get round one finished. Again, the day's play starts at 15:00 UK time, with some matches likely to finish throughout the very late evening.
Vondrousova with tricky match against Juvan
One of the favourites for the tournament, Marketa Vondrousova, gets proceedings underway at the top of the schedule as she takes on the Slovenian qualifier, Kaja Juvan. Vondrousova is currently trading as a [1.55] favourite on the Exchange, and despite her obvious qualities and strong future potential, this price looks about right to me.
The 19-year-old, Juvan, has produced impressive clay court numbers in qualifiers and ITF level events and looks one to follow on clay in the future - it looks like she has clear upside and could well yield some value in the future. Another of the tournament favourites, Elise Mertens, is priced similarly in another early match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and again, this price looks pretty accurate.
Tig capable of competing against Kontaveit
This pricing accuracy from the market is a recurring theme for today, although I do think that the night match between Anett Kontaveit and Patricia Maria Tig could give us some scope for a slight opportunity.
For this, Kontaveit is priced at [1.33] at the time of writing, and I make this short. Tig's clay court data is very strong - even considering the relatively low opposition quality that she's faced in her main tour matches over the last couple of years - and she has fairly strong underlying data at lower levels too.
Certainly, I make clay Tig's best surface and she reached three finals on the surface at varying levels between July and October last season, including in a main tour event in Bucharest, where she qualified and ran through the draw before succumbing to Elena Rybakina in the final.
While Kontaveit is a much more accomplished player overall - reflected by her ranking - her clay activity is less pronounced. Yes, she's faced a higher quality of opposition, but her runs to the latter stages on the surface in the last couple of years were aided by injuries to opposition (Stuttgart last year) and in Rome last year, she managed to match up with some opposition who are less impressive on clay than on other surfaces.
All this leads me to think that this could be a closer match-up than many suspect. In addition, I think it should be one of the more serve-orientated match-ups on the schedule, so taking Tig on the game handicap could yield some rewards. In this first round match in the first tournament back after a five month break, I definitely don't recommend much of a stake, but based on general market prices, we should get around [1.75] about Tig with a 5.5 game head start and this appeals.
Giorgi returning to clay after a two-year absence
In other matches, it will be interesting to see Camila Giorgi's level against Rebecca Peterson. Longer-term data suggests that Giorgi could be marginal value as a slight favourite, but the Italian hasn't played a competitive match on clay since May 2018, when she made the third round of the French Open, while another one of the favourites for this tournament, Petra Martic, faces Alison van Uytvanck. Martic is one of the strongest favourites today, but could be tested by the Belgian, whose clay data isn't that bad at all.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Back Patricia Maria Tig +5.5 games at around [1.75]