Following wins in Thursday's semi-finals, Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova meet in Saturday's women's singles final at Wimbledon. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, discusses the match...
"A high aces per game count has been prevalent in their previous meetings, with both able to serve over 0.6 aces per game against each other, and this also points to the final being a match dominated by serve with break point opportunities more scarce than the average WTA Tour match."
Pliskova could end a five-year wait to avenge previous Slam final loss
We picked up an underdog winner on Thursday with Karolina Pliskova finally dropping a set in the tournament, but fighting back to win 5-7 6-4 6-4 against Aryna Sabalenka in a shade under two hours. The Czech faced just one break point in the match in an impressive display - just that solitary break in the opening set - and if she had taken more of her return break point chances, could have won the match even easier.
Now, Pliskova faces Ash Barty in her second Grand Slam singles final. The first for Pliskova was almost five years ago, when she lost in three sets to Angelique Kerber in the US Open final, so it's been a long wait to try and have another opportunity to lift that first Slam trophy. Barty got past Kerber in straight sets in her semi-final on Thursday, meaning that both players have dropped just one set en route to this stage.
Serve-orientated theme likely for Saturday's final
Considering that, obviously something has to give today. Both players have served well in the tournament so far, holding well in excess of 80% of the time with Barty hitting 0.72 aces per game and Pliskova higher at 0.87, and a serve-orientated final - unless nerves get the better of the duo - should be anticipated with both players two of the better servers on tour.
This has been a theme of their previous six main tour meetings, which Barty has won four. Both players have again held over 80% of the time in these head-to-head clashes, with Barty having a slight edge (84% to 81%).
Again, a high aces per game count has been prevalent in their previous meetings, with both able to serve over 0.6 aces per game against each other, and this also points to the final being a match dominated by serve with break point opportunities more scarce than the average WTA Tour match.
Market pricing looking pretty accurate
My model expects this too, with Barty favourite in my pricing at 1.384/11, and with a projected hold percentage of 81.5%. The market pricing is very slightly bigger, at 1.434/9, but this really isn't enough of a difference to get involved with and given this, I think the market pricing is broadly correct.
In the six matches so far in Wimbledon 2021, Pliskova has won around 6% more service points but Barty has won close to 4% more points on return, so Pliskova - despite her underdog status - should come into the match in confident mood with the ability to cause an upset. However, I do think that Barty is the justified favourite for the final and the market pricing isn't too far out of line.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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