The women's US Open promises to be an extremely open, and competitive, event. Prior to the draw, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, looks at players who are potentially undervalued by the market...
"While the American leads the tour this season on combined hold/break on hard court (118.9%), she's retired or withdrawn from four of her last six tournaments, including just over a week ago in the Toronto final against Bianca Andreescu. There has to be a fitness doubt over the former world number one in advance of her home Grand Slam event."
Fitness doubt Williams leads outright market
While there are just four men's singles players priced shorter than [38.0] in the outright market - and all are below the [15.0] mark, there are 11 players below that [38.0] price in the women's tournament, in what again promises to be another Grand Slam where plenty of players will fancy their chances of getting to the business end of the competition.
Prior to the draw, Serena Williams is the [6.0] market favourite, and this looks a little surprising to an extent. While the American leads the tour this season on combined hold/break on hard court (118.9%), she's retired or withdrawn from four of her last six tournaments, including just over a week ago in the Toronto final against Bianca Andreescu. There has to be a fitness doubt over the former world number one in advance of her home Grand Slam event.
Statistics fail to back up Halep's outright price
Wimbledon champion Simona Halep is second favourite at [9.6] and I must admit that I feel this price is influenced by her relatively unexpected success at SW19. Her hard court numbers this season aren't particularly special, and there are numerous contenders with better hard court data. She's obviously one of many who are capable of success here, but at prices, the Romanian is a no for me - although she played in Cincinnati, she was another player who retired in Toronto.
Andreescu backed in following Toronto success
In what is such an open event, naturally I now want to wait for the draw prior to firming up any outright recommendations. So many players have similar data that there really isn't much to choose between them, ability wise.
The top of the market generally reflects the hard court combined hold/break list for 2019, with the exception of Halep, and to a certain extent Naomi Osaka. Interestingly, Bianca Andreescu rates very well via this metric (117.0%) and is rated second best on hard court on tour when ranked by that methodology. The Canadian, after her success in Toronto, has been backed into [16.5], and she's very unproven in Grand Slams, having played a sum total of just four career matches in this format.
Muguruza and Vondrousova potential value if fit
If Garbine Muguruza and Marketa Vondrousova are fit, they would represent strong long-shot options at [90.0] and [150.0], respectively. Muguruza made her comeback to tour after a shock opening round loss at Wimbledon last week in Cincinnati, and arguably gave tournament winner Madison Keys her toughest match of the tournament, losing a tight three-setter. As for Vondrousova, her stats indicate she has an extremely high level - both current and potential - but she hasn't been seen on tour since Wimbledon, having sustained a hand injury.
Yastremska and Muchova young players with potential
Other players who might be viable long-shot options with a kind draw include Belinda Bencic, at [65.0], Victoria Azarenka at [85.0], Qiang Wang at [320.0] and several other highly talented young players, such as Dayana Yastremska, at [75.0], and Karolina Muchova at [120.0]. Iga Swiatek is another, but my perception of her current level is that she's more suited to clay courts.
The 19 year old Ukranian, Yastremska, has won 65% of her main tour hard court matches this year and rates well from a combined hold/break perspective (just over the 108% mark) while both Muchova and Wang are into the quarter-finals tonight in the New York warm-up event.
Muchova is a 23 year old big-server from the Czech Republic, and reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last month, and she's breezed through her matches in New York so far this week, looking a little under-rated by the market. She's also around the 108% combined hold/break mark, which is pretty similar to Wang, who had such an impressive end to her 2018 season.
There's little doubt that hard courts are Wang's best surface, and she has given a decent account of herself on those this year - she's just struggled a bit on clay, as expected, and on grass. Based on the level she exhibited in the second half of 2018 on outdoor hard court, I don't think she should be as big a price as this.
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