French Open Ladies Singles Day 11: Sharapova a false underdog against Muguruza

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova is a value underdog against Garbine Muguruza today...
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With the second batch of women's quarter-finals taking place at the French Open today, our tennis columnist Dan Weston returns to check out where the value lies...

"Looking at the last 12 months, Sharapova has marginally the better clay data, holding 69.6% and breaking 44.2% (combined 113.8%) while Muguruza is below, at 71.0% and 41.7% respectively (112.7%), and this wafer-thin edge made Sharapova my favourite."

Keys sneaks past Putintseva to make semis

In yesterday's first quarter-final, Madison Keys progressed to the quarter-finals at the expense of Yulia Putintseva, although the Kazakh acquitted herself well, and justified my stance that she is very under-rated on clay. Having said this, she's not nearly as strong on other surfaces and I suspect she will prove to be a little over-rated by the market away from clay in the not too distant future.

Stephens defeats Kasatkina to give us a winner

We also saw our recommended bet, the slight underdog Sloane Stephens, outclass Darya Kasatkina, to give us another winner in what has been a pretty solid women's campaign for us here at Roland Garros. The American, Stephens, is now getting decent support in the tournament winner market, moving into [4.9] for the title.

Halep correctly priced by market against Kerber

Both quarter-finals are scheduled for 13:00 UK time today, with Simona Halep a correctly priced [1.46] favourite over Angelique Kerber. Halep has retained her tournament favourite status following the elimination of Elina Svitolina earlier in the event, and looks well-equipped to despatch the German today.

In the last 12 months on clay, Halep has a considerable edge over Kerber both on serve and return, holding 71.6% to Kerber's 66.3%, and breaking opponents 52.9% as opposed to 46.1%, and this rubber-stamped my model's pricing being the same as the market.

However, I suspect that one area that Kerber has an advantage will be self-belief and mental strength, and we've seen Halep found wanting on the big stage on a number of occasions in recent years. Certainly, if Halep wobbles when close to the winning line here, Kerber will be very likely to punish her.

Muguruza over-rated for Sharapova clash

The other quarter-final on today's schedule sees Garbine Muguruza face Maria Sharapova, with Muguruza the [1.81] favourite. This pricing was a surprise to me, with my model reversing these prices, and I'll discuss my reasoning for this.

Looking at the last 12 months, Sharapova has marginally the better clay data, holding 69.6% and breaking 44.2% (combined 113.8%) while Muguruza is below, at 71.0% and 41.7% respectively (112.7%), and this wafer-thin edge made Sharapova my favourite.

Sharapova capable of a very high peak level

In addition, we know from previous years that Sharapova is capable of an extremely high peak level on clay - for example, she ran at 120.5% combined in 2014 - and while she's not been close to this peak since her comeback on the tour, having this in her locker is something Muguruza is unable to boast of.

Another small positive is the fact that Muguruza is yet to beat Sharapova in three attempts. There is no merit of including this head-to-head series in model pricing, given that they all took place in 2013 and 2014, when Muguruza wasn't ranked inside the top 20, but it's certainly not a negative for our support of the Russian this afternoon.

Based on my numbers, Sharapova has to be today's recommendation, at a current [2.26].

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Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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