It's WTA semi-finals day on day 12 of the French Open, and with our in-form columnist, Dan Weston, picking up his 11th consecutive WTA winner yesterday, he is back to preview the matches...
"Bacsinszky's 12 month clay stats are at a career high 72.5% service holds, while breaking opponents 52.7% of the time (combined 125.2%)."
Svitolina covers game handicap despite imploding
Yesterday's WTA quarter-final between Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep went from the sublime to the ridiculous with our handicap recommendation, Svitolina, coasting at 6-3 5-1 up having not faced a single break point in the second set.
Having blown this 5-1 second set lead to go 5-6 down, Svitolina then managed to hold from 0-40 down to make a second set tiebreak, where she spurned a match point. At this stage, it was impossible to know how crucial that hold to take it into the tiebreak was - it covered our +4.5 game recommendation, as Halep subsequently blew away the Ukrainian with a third set bagel.
This brought up our 11th WTA win in a row at the French Open, and in today's semi-finals - both available on Betfair Live Video - I'm looking towards a player who has done well for us already several times in this campaign in an attempt to find a twelfth.
Bacsinszky at elite level on clay
Timea Bacsinszky has already got us winning bets in her matches against Venus Williams and Kristina Mladenovic, and my model makes her value for a hat-trick today, as she takes on Jelena Ostapenko in the first semi-final, due to take place not before 2pm UK time this afternoon.
After some stunning results in the last fortnight at Roland Garros, where she has dropped just one set and won eight of eleven sets via a 6-0 to 6-2 scoreline, Bacsinszky's 12 month clay stats are at a career high 72.5% service holds, while breaking opponents 52.7% of the time (combined 125.2%). This gives her numbers in the 120% elite level bracket, and she will be a tough opponent for anyone remaining in Paris.
Ostapenko's numbers not at same level as Bacsinszky
Opponent Ostapenko's clay numbers are also strong, with the Latvian, who has turned 20 today, holding serve 65.2% and breaking opponents 46.9% (combined 112.1%) but these are significantly below Bacsinszky's numbers, and led me to price Bacsinszky as a [1.43] favourite.
However, the price on the 28 year old Bacsinszky, who also celebrates her birthday today, on the Exchange is a current [1.67] - a price which indicates very solid value indeed on the Swiss player.
I was also toying with recommending Bacsinszky -2.5 games for a bigger price - [1.97] - on the game handicap, but when I assessed her wins on clay when priced as a slight favourite, a number of her wins came via a one or two game margin.
This obviously deterred me from recommending the bigger price and backing Bacsinszky just to win, and thus make the final, is today's preferred position.
Halep with irrelevant head to head lead against Pliskova
Should Bacsinszky win, she'll face either Simona Halep or Karolina Pliskova in the final, and Halep takes a 4-1 head to head lead into this second semi-final.
Having said this, it's questionable quite how relevant the head to head series is to the current match-up, given that none of the matches were on clay, and Pliskova was ranked outside the top ten in all of the five matches. The majority of the media will have you believe that these head to head matches are a big factor, but certainly I would guard against over-valuing them.
Halep's hold/break data the numbers that matter
For this match, Halep's world-class clay data (combined 127.1%) made her a considerable favourite to progress to the final, with my model pricing up the Romanian at [1.23], and the Exchange price looks a little generous at [1.31].
Certainly, Pliskova faces a tough battle ahead - Halep is 14-1 on clay in the last 12 months when priced in the 1.20-1.50 price range, and she's covered the -4.5 game handicap, priced at [2.00] today, in all but one of those 14 victories.
Considering this, I certainly wouldn't put anyone off also taking a position on the Romanian on the game handicap either, but I'm sticking with Bacsinszky as my main recommendation today.
Back Timea Bacsinszky at [1.67]
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Dan's French Open 2017 P/L
(individual match bets)
10.12 units up
2017 overall, including outrights
19.74 units up
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