Wimbledon Women's Tournament Tips: Konta among those who can challenge

British Tennis Player Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta has a solid chance in her home Grand Slam...

This promises to be an extremely open and fascinating women's singles tournament at Wimbledon so our tennis columnist Dan Weston returns to give his finalised outright selections...

"Crowd support will hopefully assist Konta and her grass data over the last couple of years is pretty solid - a little better than Bertens. "

First quarter stacked with contenders

Sometimes in a World Cup in football, a particular group is referred to as the 'group of death', with the inference that this was the group that every team wanted to avoid, as it is full of high-level teams. On Friday's women's singles draw, we found that there was a very similar bracket, with quarter one being absurdly stacked full of high-level contenders for the title.

This has seen the likes of Serena Williams drift in the market, with the former world number one now out to 9.08/1 for the title (she was around 7.87/1 pre-draw) and given that brutal draw in the top quarter, I couldn't possibly advocate backing her at those prices considering she's retired or withdrew from three of five tournaments this season.

To give you an example of the players in the first quarter, here are a list of major contenders. Top seed, tournament favourite and newly crowned world number one Ashleigh Barty leads the list, and in this bracket we also the aforementioned Serena, as well as 2017 champion Garbine Muguruza, Donna Vekic, Alison Riske, Belinda Bencic, Julia Goerges, Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber. Finding a value player from that list is a thankless task.

Konta capable of coming through quarter two

Considering this, moving on to subsequent quarters looks to be the best strategy. Quarter two features the likes of Kiki Bertens, Elise Mertens, Jo Konta and Petra Kvitova and I'm concerned about the former and latter's chances. Prior to last season, Bertens was considered (by me at least) to be more of a clay courter and her grass numbers (around 103% combined serve/return points won percentage in the last 18 months) is solid, as opposed to spectacular.

Kvitova would be one of the tournament favourites if fit, but hasn't been seen on court since picking up an arm injury in Rome over a month ago, missing the French Open.

In fact, both her and her opening round opponent Ons Jabeur are both fitness doubts and based on quotes from Kvitova in her BBC Sport column, I'm not convinced she's in that decent condition, stating that 'nobody knows how it is going to be and how much time I will need to be ready again' and that the MRI scans 'didn't show it's 100% ready but sometimes in our life, nothing is really ready'.

Given that Kvitova faces tricky early rounds potentially against Kristina Mladenovic and Amanda Anisimova, she looks tough to side with, leaving Konta as a potential play.

The Brit has a fairly kind opening couple of rounds and potentially faces Sloane Stephens in the third round, but Stephens is very inconsistent and hasn't exhibited a high grass level for a while now. Crowd support will hopefully assist Konta and her grass data over the last couple of years is pretty solid - a little better than Bertens. At a marginally bigger 30.029/1 price to Bertens' 27.026/1, she looks a reasonable player to add to a portfolio in this bracket.

Martic available at a big price from quarter three

There are doubts about a number of contenders in quarter three, with Elina Svitolina and Jelena Ostapenko in particular coming into the tournament with concerns, so it's no surprise to see Eastbourne winner Karolina Pliskova receiving market support, being backed into a current 6.806/1.

Pliskova obviously possesses the tools required to succeed on the surface but has never reached the quarter-final stage here so there will almost certainly be question marks in her mind coming into the tournament. This leaves me with a long-shot option with Petra Martic priced up at 75.074/1.

The Croatian has been in recent good touch, reaching the latter stages of tournaments regularly, and has a solid grass court record (around 103.0% combined serve/return points won) across the last two years. At a long-shot price, she looks one worthy of consideration.

Wozniacki likely to shorten if fitness proved

Finally in quarter four, we have a number of big names but not many of whom are particular grass courters. All of Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka, Aryna Sabalenka and Naomi Osaka have something to prove on the surface currently, while Madison Keys' fitness is debatable.

Three players in this bracket who generally thrive on grass are Caroline Garcia, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki. Venus is in the latter stages of her career but still retains some pedigree on the surface and I've seen worse shots around the 200.0199/1 mark than the veteran American.

Both Carolines - Garcia and Wozniacki - are similarly priced, and they look better options than a number of players at shorter prices. Garcia, at 80.079/1, has never really hit the heights that Andy Murray suggested she would a few years ago, but has won 75% of her matches on grass in the last two years, while Wozniacki has excellent grass court data full-stop but obviously has that injury concern coming into the tournament.

However, the Dane did reasonably well at Eastbourne in her comeback tournament last week, beating Kirsten Flipkens (no mug on grass) and Andrea Petkovic, before falling in a final set tiebreak to Sabalenka, and she looks well set for that third round meeting with Garcia. If she starts the tournament well, I'd imagine her price will contract fairly sharply, and if fit, I'd make her favourite over Garcia, so Wozniacki is our final selection.

Above average serve numbers a virtual pre-requisite

In our pre-draw preview I also mentioned finding a trend in women's Wimbledon winners. In the last decade, every winner was a solid server (even Marion Bartoli held almost 75% on grass in her career) and with the exception of Angieszka Radwanska (2012) all the runners-up also fit this dynamic as well. This is absolutely logical given that strong servers are favoured by grass courts in general.

In short, being successful at Wimbledon in the women's tournament has a virtual pre-requisite of requiring above-average serve numbers - being able to hold in excess of 70% of service games. Our trio of Konta, Martic and Wozniacki are capable of this, while a number other contenders are not. If and when the opportunity arises to look at hedging, I'll revisit the progress of our trio later in the tournament.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings and watch all the action from Wimbledon on Betfair Live Video

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