US Open Women's Singles Day Two: Zidansek capable of extending Mladenovic's hard court woes...
There are another 32 women's singles matches at the US Open tonight, and with the opening day already providing a huge shock, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, gives his thoughts...
"These medium-paced conditions in New York are unlikely to favour Mladenovic, who is a dire 6-21 on hard court in the last 12 months, winning just 52.7% of service points."
Williams outright favourite as Halep shocked
We had a good opening day on Monday on the women's side with Qiang Wang easily getting the better of Magdalena Rybarikova, and after discussing the likelihood of Simona Halep struggling against a very competent opponent, in Kaia Kanepi, the Romanian - the joint tournament favourite no less - was dumped out in straight sets.
The effect of this on the outright market is clear. Serena Williams is now the outright favourite, having shortened to [5.3], and I feel this is absolutely short enough given the fact she has much to prove still, on return, against the better players on tour. While Carina Witthoeft may not provide a huge test on Wednesday evening, sister Venus, or Camila Giorgi, may do in the third round.
Kerber potentially vulnerable against Gasparyan
Back to today, however, there are some interesting matches worth discussing as the first round completes. Some of the big names in action include Maria Sharapova, Madison Keys and Angelique Kerber, who are all priced around the [1.15] mark against Patty Schnyder, Pauline Parmentier and Margarita Gasparyan.
Of the three, I feel Kerber, against Gasparyan, is the most vulnerable - Kerber frequently starts tournaments poorly and Gasparyan is no pushover. Yes, the Russian is ranked outside the top 400, but that's mainly caused by injury. Two years ago she was inside the top 50 and I had her pegged as a player of high potential.
Kvitova with fitness to prove against Wickmayer
Another vulnerable heavy favourite today could be Petra Kvitova, with the Czech's fitness far from guaranteed after retiring last time out in New Haven. She takes on Yanina Wickmayer, and is short at [1.14] to beat the Belgian, given those concerns. I have a suspicion that the 2018 version of Kvitova has a high peak but merely a good rather than great average level, so it will be interesting to see how she fares today.
Mladenovic a false favourite against Zidansek
However, from a value perspective, I want to look at two matches. The first sees Kristina Mladenovic take on Tamara Zidansek, with Mladenovic the [1.55] market favourite despite the records of the duo being polar opposites.
Zidansek has won over 50 matches, mostly at a lower level this season, with Mladenovic virtually unable to win unless it's at a venue with quick conditions. Certainly, there's only one player heading here with confidence and while Zidansek has done her best work on clay so far in her young career, she's 16-6 on hard court in the last 12 months, including a win over Kirsten Flipkens last week in New Haven qualifying.
These medium-paced conditions in New York are unlikely to favour Mladenovic, who is a dire 6-21 on hard court in the last 12 months, winning just 52.7% of service points. With all this considered, Zidansek at [2.58] is our first pick of the day.
Bouchard short even against ITF player Tan
Our second is a player I'd never heard of prior to pricing up these matches, in the shape of the French wild-card, Harmony Tan, and to some extent, this is a little bit of a gamble. However, she faces Eugenie Bouchard tonight, with the Canadian having experienced a dramatic fall from grace in the last few years.
Once ranked in the top five, Bouchard now finds herself outside the top 100 and needing to qualify for these events, and her hard court record in the last 12-18 months is extremely mediocre, to put it politely - she's 3-14 in main tour hard court matches in the last year and a half.
Being completely honest, I'm struggling to think of an opponent Bouchard should be [1.07] against, even when facing an ITF player in Tan. The game handicap market on the Exchange is still forming, but we should be able to get around [1.70] on Tan +7.5 games here eventually. Those willing to take a bigger risk can back Tan at a whopping [13.5] for the win.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Back Tamara Zidansek at [2.58]
Back Harmony Tan +7.5 games at around [1.70]