The women's singles event at Wimbledon promises to be fascinating and competitive. Dan Weston previews of some of today's 32 matches...
"Burrage competed well as a heavy underdog in Eastbourne qualifiers, losing 6-1 4-6 3-6 to Kristina Mladenovic, and while she has lost a number of matches in a row, she’s been underdog in three of her last four and competed well when priced over 4.003/1."
Sabalenka and Muguruza among likely mismatches on day one
It is very difficult to be particularly confident about assigning pre-match value to players without much usable grass data. I wanted to make that clear at the start of today's preview - this could be a tricky tournament to price up.
As always in round one of a Slam, there's a number of what look like mismatches, with some players being pretty strong favourites. These include Aryna Sabalenka, who faces Monica Niculescu, and Garbine Muguruza, who meets the French player, Fiona Ferro. Elise Mertens and Madison Keys are also strong favourites to defeat British opposition, in Harriet Dart and Katie Swan - and that status looks broadly justified.
Our outright pick, Petra Kvitova, is also in action and is 1.232/9 for her match against Sloane Stephens. The American, Stephens, doesn't have great numbers on hard courts over the last year or two, and there's even an argument to suggest Kvitova is marginal value here.
Burrage capable of a good display against Davis
As mentioned, the British hopes of Dart and Swan might be dashed on the opening day, with both players being justified heavy underdogs. I have higher expectations, however, for another British player - Jodie Burrage, who faces Lauren Davis.
Wild-card Burrage competed reasonably well as a heavy underdog last week in Eastbourne qualifiers, losing 6-1 4-6 3-6 to Kristina Mladenovic, and while she has lost a number of matches in a row, she's been underdog in three of her last four and competed well as a heavy underdog on both occasions she was priced over 4.003/1.
Davis did well in Nottingham a few weeks ago but in reality, who did she beat? Dart, who we've referenced above, a rusty Alison Riske and then a retirement win over another Brit, Katie Boulter. The American has also had a pretty mediocre record over the last year since the tour resumed.
Despite this, Davis is 1.251/4 to get the win here and this looks short to me. Burrage has picked up some decent wins in quicker conditions at ITF level and can be backed at around 2.0521/20 with a 4.5 game head start based on general market pricing. We can also lay Davis -4.5 at 1.9010/11 on the Exchange, which is a slightly better price.
Samsonova short-priced to continue Berlin form
After winning the Berlin WTA event on grass a couple of weeks ago as a qualifier, it's interesting as well to see Ludmilla Samsonova as short as 1.4840/85 for her match with Kaia Kanepi, who hasn't played since the French Open. Kanepi doesn't play as demanding a schedule as many other players and has come into Slams before without much game time and done well, so it wouldn't surprise me if Kanepi pulled off an underdog victory today.
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