On Tuesday, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston previewed the women's singles event and discussed a number of players to shortlist for post-draw assessment. Dan is back with his thoughts...
"In Tuesday's preview, I stated that four players - the aformentioned Halep and Svitolina, as well as Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens - could boast combined service/return points won percentages in excess of 105% for both this year and in the last 18 months, and these formed the basis of my main candidates for glory."
Tough start for unprepared Serena Williams
While the men's singles draw was completely stacked, particularly in the bottom quarter, the even nature of the women's draw means that brutal draws are harder to find, although there was a tough start given to unseeded Serena Williams, who faces the competent big-server Krystina Pliskova in the first round, before a likely second round match with the rapidly improving prospect Ash Barty.
A potential third round clash with either Julia Goerges or Dominika Cibulkova rounds off a very tough start to the event for the American legend, and it will be interesting to see quite how much her lack of warm-up event preparation will manifest itself as the event starts on Sunday.
Halep joined by Svitolina as market favourite
Following the draw, Simona Halep is still the market favourite on the Exchange, running at [7.2], but the Romanian is now joined by Elina Svitolina as co-favourite at the same price, with the Ukrainian, Svitolina, being backed in from [8.6] on Tuesday after receiving a gift draw featuring very few quality seeded players and a number of qualifiers.
Kvitova can be backed at a generous price for glory
In Tuesday's pre-draw preview, I stated that four players - the aformentioned Halep and Svitolina, as well as Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens - could boast combined service/return points won percentages in excess of 105% for both this year and in the last 18 months, and these formed the basis of my main candidates for glory.
With this in mind, it's worth looking at Kvitova's draw, with the Czech left-hander the fourth favourite in the field, at [15.5] currently. She faces the Paraguayan, Veronica Cepede, in her opener, before facing Lara Arruabarrena or Timea Babos. Anett Kontaveit is her likely third round opponent, and this draw is far from disastrous, as is Sloane Stephens or Anastasia in the fourth round. While Kvitova isn't renowned for her clay prowess, in what is a field without a dominant player, she can be backed at a generous price.
Bertens with ability but a tough draw
As for Bertens, a run to the semi-final here in 2016 is her best display in a Slam, but does show how far back her impressive levels on clay have been demonstrated. The problem for her is two-fold - firstly, she faces the capable Aryna Sabalenka in her opener, and Angelique Kerber looms in round three, although the German isn't as strong on clay as on other surfaces. Secondly, she's been drawn in top seed Halep's first quarter.
Karolina Pliskova another with a difficult draw
In fact, tough draws have hampered a number of players I was keen to see have a decent draw, with Elise Mertens, Marketa Vondrousova, Anastasija Sevastova, Camila Giorgi, and the previously mentioned Kontaveit up against it early or in round four of the event.
I also discussed Karolina Pliskova as being under-rated due to the perception that she's one for quicker surfaces, but the Czech player is another with a tough segment, with Maria Sharapova her likely R3 opponent, and then facing the winner of the brutal Serena Williams/Barty bracket.
Martic can be chanced at a huge price in weak third quarter
Arguably, it's quarter three that looks the weakest. This features the out of touch defending champion, Jelena Ostapenko, the fitness doubts Victoria Azarenka and Madison Keys, as well as Johanna Konta, Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka who all do their best work away from clay.
With this in mind, I want to chance Petra Martic at a giant price as a player with back-to-lay potential. Her clay data is decent, running at 101.6% combined serve/return points won in 2018, and a very strong 106.2% in the last 18 months, and at [310.0] on the Exchange, she offers the potential for huge hedged profits if she makes it through a few rounds. Another option for bettors here is to take the 66/1 about the Croat to win quarter three with the Sportsbook.
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