There was another shock in the Wimbledon ladies singles when Caroline Wozniacki exited the tournament yesterday. Dan Weston searches for the best betting value on today's card...
"Looking at records on grass, Sasnovich's is pretty poor. She is 3-5 on the surface in the last two years, winning just 53.7% of service points and 40.5% on return (94.2% combined), and stretching this out to three years, the combined figure barely rises to 94.6% from ten matches."
Wozniacki the latest big name to fall in week one
It was Petra Kvitova on Tuesday, and Caroline Wozniacki on Wednesday, as we saw another player at the forefront of the market depart from SW19 having made little impression on the tournament. Wozniacki's demise came at the hands of Ekaterina Makarova, and while Wozniacki was a little patronising with her comments post-match, she had every reason to be confident given Makarova's mediocre level on grass in recent years, and her dominant head-to-head lead.
We went one from two again with underdog picks yesterday, but I'll happily take one from two bets which were priced just shy of [3.00], and Evgeniya Rodina bought home the profits after recovering from a disastrous first set against Sorana Cirstea. Anna Blinkova imploded from 3-0 up in the first set against Kiki Bertens, who may be ripe for opposition again in future rounds.
Flipkens and Cibulkova with chances as underdogs
Moving on to today's schedule, we face quite a tough card with quite a lot of 'trappy' match-ups. I quite like Kirsten Flipkens - a grass and quick conditions specialist - as a [2.12] underdog against Jelena Ostapenko, but I worry that the Latvian is starting to find her feet on grass and may open to quite a lot of improvement.
I'm also interested in seeing how Dominika Cibulkova fares against Johanna Konta, with the Brit looking very nervous indeed when trying to close out her match with Natalia Vikhylantseva on Tuesday. My model made matters likely to be closer than the [3.45] price on the Slovak would indicate.
Boulter may provide game handicap value
Another match worth of discussion is Naomi Osaka versus Katie Boulter, with the Japanese player a heavy [1.16] favourite against the British wild-card. My model gives Boulter more of a chance, pricing Osaka bigger at [1.30] and Osaka being priced in this region on grass is a rarity - she's only been sub [1.20] twice in her entire career on grass, with one occasion being against Boulter in Birmingham earlier this month.
That match saw Osaka run out a dominant 6-1 6-2 winner and in truth this is what puts me off siding with Boulter +5.5 games on the handicap here. When priced less than [1.20] across all surfaces, Osaka is 6-7 for covering this line since the start of 2015.
Sasnovich can suffer turnaround at hands of Townsend
I've mentioned before about 'after the Lord mayor's show' bias in the market, using this phrase to describe a player who has had a victory in one of their biggest matches of their career, and Aliaksandra Sasnovich had just this when she defeated the aforementioned Kvitova on Tuesday.
Today, the Belarussian faces Taylor Townsend, and has much more expectation on her, given that she is the [1.71] market favourite. Opponent Townsend has been discussed as a high potential player for a while now but hasn't really broken through as yet. A win here would certainly do her ranking a favour and enable her to gain automatic entry for a number of events.
Looking at records on grass, Sasnovich's is pretty poor. She is 3-5 on the surface in the last two years, winning just 53.7% of service points and 40.5% on return (94.2% combined), and stretching this out to three years, the combined figure barely rises to 94.6% from ten matches.
With this in mind, it's tough to see how she can be a favourite here against an improving opponent, and I can only put this down to a market over-reaction following that win over the Czech, Kvitova. Townsend at [2.38] is today's recommendation.
Halep among numerous big names in action
In other matches, Simona Halep should have little issue against Saisai Zheng, while one of our outright portfolio, Ash Barty, is in action as she faces Eugenie Bouchard. Angelique Kerber looks a little short at [1.05] against Claire Liu, but should progress to round three. Garbine Muguruza has a tricky-looking match-up against Alison Van Uytvanck, who possesses a strong serve and may cause the Spaniard - another who looked nervous in round one - a few problems. Van Uytvanck is certainly a considerable upgrade on Naomi Broady, even in Broady's preferred quick conditions.
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Back Taylor Townsend at [2.38]