A wide-open ladies singles event begins today at Wimbledon 2018, and our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, is back to give his thoughts on which players offer some value on today's schedule...
"However, when we break down this record by surface, we find that Mladenovic is 9-7 on grass and indoor hard combined in this time frame (so she’s a horrific 7-40 on clay/outdoor hard) and further analysis of her longer-term data also shows a bias towards performance levels in quicker conditions."
Finding players adept in quick conditions essential
The ladies singles tournament is a fascinating affair, with many players likely to be extremely confident of a strong run in the event. As I mentioned in our post-draw preview, some more illustrious names at the top of the market may not prove to be superb value, while a number of lower-profile players adept in quick conditions can thrive.
Mladenovic one who fits the bill
Although I didn't mention her yesterday in the preview, Kristina Mladenovic is one of these, but the Frenchwoman has endured a torrid last 12 months on tour, winning just 16 of 47 matches. The obvious issue for her is a very poor percentage for breaking opponents - just 28.9% in these matches - and on a broad note, she'll need to up this to the mid 30s at the very least to get back to a 50% winrate.
However, when we break down this record by surface, we find that Mladenovic is 9-7 on grass and indoor hard combined in this time frame (so she's a horrific 7-40 on clay/outdoor hard) and further analysis of her longer-term data also shows a bias towards performance levels in quicker conditions.
Schmiedlova with very poor levels on grass
With this in mind, I'm much less guarded about Mladenovic's status as a strong [1.40] favourite for this match, and in fact I made this value against a player who has virtually the opposite tendency.
A 'Mladenovic-esque' slump isn't anything Schmiedlova hasn't had to deal with herself in the past, and in addition, her record on grass in main tour matches is dire, at 1-8, winning just 52.2% of service points. We can get [2.12] on Mladenovic -4.5 games, and I like this line.
Tsurenko can exploit Babos' lack of ability on grass
The other player that I like in today's women's action is Lesia Tsurenko, with the Ukrainian a [1.63] favourite over Timea Babos. In truth, Babos' record on grass is woeful, running at 2-8 in the last two years, with a particular deficiency on return, breaking opponents just 20.6% of the time.
Delving further back into the archives, we can see that this figure is pretty consistent - in main tour grass matches throughout her career, Babos has broken opponents 21.5% of the time, and won just eight of 27 matches - despite her serve-orientated style, she obviously doesn't enjoy grass courts at all.
Tsurenko's data isn't anything special herself, but is considerably better than her Hungarian rivals, and therefore the [1.63] about her makes sense as a value pick today.
Outright picks Goerges and Vandeweghe get campaigns underway
There are also a number of big names in action, including two of our outright picks from our long-shot portfolio. Julia Goerges is [1.28] to despatch Monica Puig, while Coco Vandeweghe is similarly priced to defeat Katerina Siniakova.
We also see Karolina Pliskova start her campaign - the Czech is [1.13] to eliminate home player Harriet Dart, while Caroline Wozniacki is accurately priced at [1.06] against Varvara Lepchenko. Madison Keys' match with Alja Tomljanovic could be an interesting, serve-orientated clash - Keys is [1.38] to make it through while Sloane Stephens may not have it all her own way at [1.62] against the improving Donna Vekic.
Williams sisters also in action on day one
Finally, the Williams sisters also take to the court, with older sister Venus expected by the markets to get past clay-courter Johanna Larsson with minimal fuss, and Serena likewise - despite fitness concerns - against the Dutch player, Arantxa Rus.
It all makes for a first day of superb tennis action, and with the Wimbledon weather set fair for the rest of the fortnight, fans and bettors alike will be looking forward to 11:30 UK time this morning, when everything gets underway.
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