With day seven of the US Open finally providing followers of the ladies singles with shocks, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the second day of fourth round action...
"After a relatively poor 2016, Safarova has quietly improved on hard courts this year, winning 18 of 26 matches for a better win percentage than the American, and has a slightly better 105.6% combined service/return points won percentage to Vandeweghe (104.7%) this year on the surface as well."
Sharapova and Muguruza with shock exits on day seven
'Moving day' is a common phrase in Grand Slams and in the women's event last night at Flushing Meadows, this was certainly the case as we bid farewell to Maria Sharapova - ousted by Anastasija Sevastova in three sets, and Garbine Muguruza, who won just five games in the match subsequently after being 4-1 up in the first set against Petra Kvitova.
There were also three-set wins for Sloane Stephens and Julia Goerges, and the main outright market beneficiaries of Sharapova and Muguruza's exits were Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova, with the market finding it tough to split the Czech duo at [4.8] and [5.4] respectively.
Pliskova a heavy favourite to end Brady run
Today's fourth round action gets underway at 16:00 BST, with the shortest priced favourite today, Pliskova, facing one of the surprise packages of the event, Jennifer Brady.
Pliskova's price of [1.21] looks accurate in what looks like quite a serve-orientated encounter, and it would be a pretty big surprise if Brady was able to maintain consistent pressure on the Pliskova serve this afternoon.
Caution advised for Kanepi match
Following this, there are two matches at 19:30, with Darya Kasatkina a [1.52] favourite against the other surprise player to make it to this stage, Kaia Kanepi.
Qualifier Kanepi was a strong player on tour a few years ago, reaching a peak ranking of 15 five years ago, but following injury issues, the 32 year old Estonian has dropped to outside the top 400 prior to this event, and only returned to tour in June, when she immediately won the Essen ITF event before falling in qualifying at both Wimbledon and the Bucharest event on clay.
Despite Kanepi's start to the main draw being disastrous - she was bagelled by Francesca Schiavone in the first set in the first round - she recovered to beat the Italian, and subsequently Yanina Wickmayer and the highly-rated Naomi Osaka to reach this stage.
Market prices don't look absurdly out of line, and it's still really hard to gauge Kanepi's level in what is her first hard court event this year, so this match looks worth swerving from a pre-match perspective.
Underdog Safarova with marginally better stats
However, it is the second match at 19:30 BST where my pre-match focus lies, with my model reversing market prices between Coco Vandeweghe and Lucie Safarova.
Vandeweghe is the current [1.81] favourite, but my model priced Safarova around this line, and Vandeweghe being adored by the market is certainly not a new phenomenon. After a relatively poor 2016, Safarova has quietly improved on hard courts this year, winning 18 of 26 matches for a better win percentage than the American, and has a slightly better 105.6% combined service/return points won percentage to Vandeweghe (104.7%) this year on the surface as well.
Given this edge, taking Safarova at underdog prices makes a lot of sense in what I expect to be an extremely serve-orientated, tight match.
High standard expected between contenders Svitolina and Keys
Finally, arguably the match of the day tonight sees Elina Svitolina as a slight [1.90] favourite against Madison Keys, and my model agreed with this status, although both players have considerably improved this year, and look to be two of the better players remaining in the field.
I expect this clash to be an extremely high standard, with the winner likely to be one of the major contenders for the title.
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