For a variety of reasons, there are eight fascinating matches today on the women's schedule at Wimbledon. Dan Weston gives his take on Monday's action...
Strycova is 2.3211/8 for what I perceive to be a 'pick-em' match, and her grass data over the last few years is excellent (113.6% combined hold/break across the last three years).
Barty faces toughest task so far
While the men's card today is dominated by heavy favourites, this is - rather predictably - less the case on the women's schedule today. Four favourites in today's eight women's matches are priced at 1.501/2 or greater, and there's a general theme where matches should be more competitive today compared to the men's tournament.
Let's get the heavy favourites out of the way first. Opening the schedule today at 11am UK time, tournament favourite Ashleigh Barty is 1.141/7 to get past the grass-loving Alison Riske, and while I don't think this price is hugely out of line - I think it is a few ticks short though - I do think this is Barty's biggest test so far. I read with interest that Riske has appointed an analyst to try and help her defeat the world number one, so it will interesting to see her game plan today.
Pliskova and Serena heavy favourites to progress
Moving through the card, Karolina Pliskova faces countrywoman Karolina Muchova, who is five years her junior. I'm anticipating a big-serving clash here with Muchova also having a rather serve-orientated dynamic - she's held over 70% on all surfaces on the main tour this season - but on grass, given Pliskova's pedigree on the surface, I think the 1.171/6 about Pliskova isn't far from the mark.
We also see Serena Williams and Simona Halep priced similarly against Carla Suarez Navarro and Cori Gauff, respectively. CSN got us a facile win on Saturday against Lauren Davis but obviously, Serena is a gigantic step up in ability for her compared to facing the lucky loser, Davis, and even this non-peak version of Williams should be too good for the Spaniard today.
Halep almost value to end Gauff journey
As for Halep, she's 1.241/4 to get past the American sensation, Cori Gauff. I have no idea how Gauff has got to this stage but she's here and the price on Halep even looks a few ticks big at these prices. If someone can logically explain to me how Gauff a massive underdog to win here, but just 34.033/1 on the outright with a potential subsequent opponent list of Yastremska/Pliskova/Barty then please feel free to inform me.
Konta facing Kvitova test
With the matches involving heavy favourites discussed, there's some fascinating matches involving players matched closer in ability. Petra Kvitova faces one of our outright picks, Johanna Konta, and the Czech is 1.574/7 to end Konta's campaign. In truth, when looking at the pre-tournament outrights, I had little hope for Kvitova given her arm injury, but she's got past an albeit limited quality opponent list in three straight set matches so far. Konta is a big upgrade on any of those players, so today's meeting should give interesting insight into where Kvitova's current game is.
Our other women's outright choice, Petra Martic, is correctly priced as a very marginal 2.0421/20 underdog to get past Elina Svitolina, who was not at a high level in recent months prior to Wimbledon, while the aforementioned Yastremska has a statistical and market edge, at 1.594/7 against Shuai Zhang.
Strycova value in even-looking match-up
However, today's recommendation comes in the Barbora Strycova against Elise Mertens match, but similarly to the men's pick today, it is a rather cautious recommendation. Strycova is 2.3211/8 for what I perceive to be a 'pick-em' match, and her grass data over the last few years is excellent (113.6% combined hold/break across the last three years).
Despite being the better player from an all-surface and ranking perspective, Mertens can't boast those kind of numbers on grass, and given that discrepancy, taking Strycova at underdog prices is pretty logical today.
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Back Barbora Strycova at 2.3211/8 to beat Elise Mertens