US Open Women's Singles Day Three: Safarova can spring Barty surprise
Following yesterday's first round matches, it's round two of the women's singles event at the US Open tonight. Back with his preview of the action is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"I make the ability gap between the two much closer than market prices indicate, and in a big-serving match, which could potentially be very tight, I'm happy to go with the experience of Safarova."
Garcia victory slashes outright price
There was a mixed bag for followers last night in New York, with our two recommendations - underdogs Tamara Zidansek, and Harmony Tan, failing to overturn the odds, but we did get a big result for our outright, with Caroline Garcia easing past Johanna Konta and being slashed to [32.0] in the tournament winner market.
With Simona Halep eliminated on Monday, Serena Williams still retains outright favourite status, despite drifting a little to [5.90], but in truth, there are numerous players on the women's tour who should feel pretty confident about their chances of making the latter stages at the end of next week.
Little in the way of shocks so far
As with the men's side yesterday, there were few shocks in the women's tournament on Tuesday night, and with few - Halep not included - on Monday, it's certainly been an event where the favoured player has largely made it through so far.
This is pretty unusual for a women's Slam, with the best of three set format lending itself much more towards surprise results than the best of five in the men's, and there are a few underdogs who look to be a touch of value tonight.
Witthoeft unlikely to dent Williams' serve
Tournament favourite Williams looks a little short at [1.06], against Carina Witthoeft, although I'm not entirely sure how much impact the German player will be able to make against the former world number one. Certainly, Witthoeft's mediocre return game shouldn't cause Williams' serve undue difficulty.
Kalinina can compete against Stephens
I also think that Sloane Stephens is poor value at [1.06] against the qualifier, Anhelina Kalinina, although I'm conscious of the young Ukrainian's retirement several weeks ago in an ITF event. If I was more convinced of her condition, the 6.5 game handicap line in her favour could be considered.
Bogdan not without a chance against Pliskova
In addition, another big name who could struggle a touch may turn out to be Karolina Pliskova. The big-serving Czech player has been in poor touch of late, and has lost three of her six matches on hard court since the grass season - all as favourite. She's [1.41] against the improving Ana Bogdan, who is now recording hard court data much better than her current ranking outside of the top 70.
In fact, Bogdan has beaten some very decent hard courters in recent weeks in Premier event qualifying, including Donna Vekic and Monica Niculescu while beating a number of decent young prospects too, including Sofia Kenin, Viktoria Kuzmova, Anna Blinkova and Rebecca Peterson, so is exhibiting a decent enough level.
Whether this will be enough to beat Pliskova is another matter entirely, but she's certainly capable of taking advantage if Pliskova has another off-day.
Safarova capable of underdog win over Barty
However, for today's recommendation, I'm taking a match win on another underdog, in the shape of Lucie Safarova, as she faces Ash Barty. The higher ranked Barty is [1.39] to get the win here, and I make this very short indeed.
Firstly, after showing some superb data for a few months after breaking onto the main tour with a bang, Barty has mean-reverted a little, and while still showing decent enough top 20 hard court data, it's certainly no better than this - at one stage she looked a cert for the top 10.
In addition, I suspect Safarova is poorly treated by her ranking. She competed well in Montreal earlier this month, beating Daria Gavrilova and then losing narrowly to the in-form Julia Goerges, who has exhibited huge improvement this year. Following this, Safarova got the better of Petra Martic in a tough opening round.
I make the ability gap between the two much closer than market prices indicate, and in a big-serving match, which could potentially be very tight, I'm happy to go with the experience of Safarova at [3.45].
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Back Lucie Safarova at [3.45]