Wimbledon Ladies Singles: Portfolio of long-shots makes sense in competitive event
The post-draw Wimbledon ladies singles market is fascinating with many players capable of glory. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, gives his thoughts and recommendations...
"Karolina Pliskova is another player who I'm keen to oppose, with the Czech player never reaching the semi-finals here, and frequently flopping at Grand Slams. I accept the fact that her game should suit grass, but her results on the surface are inconsistent, and we can use Julia Goerges as a method to exploit Pliskova's weaknesses."
Kvitova and Williams still at the top of the outright market
Not a great deal has changed for the market favourites in the ladies singles outright market for Wimbledon following the draw, with both Petra Kvitova and Serena Williams being eased a single tick out from the available prices on our pre-draw preview.
Williams must be opposed given injury and inactivity
In that earlier preview, I discussed Williams' inactivity following an injury withdrawal at the French Open, and how her return data in Paris was very mediocre indeed, and I'm keen to flesh out that comment a little more.
At the recent French Open, she was running at just 39.5% return points won and breaking opponents 26.5%, and in much quicker conditions here at SW19 - which naturally benefit servers - I expect these numbers to dwindle further.
While it's also fair to say that Williams' serve was extremely strong (she held 85.7% of the time in Paris) she'll certainly need it to be with these return numbers, and given her injury and no warm-up events on grass either, the younger Williams sister has to be opposed over the next two weeks.
Vandeweghe with the ability to come through Williams' bracket
We can start to look towards how to do this in the outright market here, with both Coco Vandeweghe and Caroline Wozniacki the obvious threats in Williams' bottom quarter of the draw. and it is the Dane, Wozniacki, with the marginally better grass data in the last 18 months, winning 61.2% of points on serve and 45.7% on return (106.9% combined) and Vandeweghe running at 65.1% and 41.6% (106.7%).
This hasn't translated itself into hold/break data, however, with Wozniacki's 114.4% combined percentage trumping Vandeweghe's 107.8% figure, and the reason here is simple - Vandeweghe is considerably down on expectation for saving and converting break points on grass while Wozniacki's conversion rate is much higher than it should be.
Break point performance is almost always down to variance and thus service/return points won percentages give a truer guide to a player's real level on a surface, and with her numbers in this respect, Vandeweghe looks great value at the current [55.0] on the Exchange, compared to Wozniacki's [24.0].
Barty a top five player on grass
In what looks like a real competitive event, I want to discuss building a small portfolio of long-shots who have strong grass records, and my next consideration is Ash Barty.
The Australian 17th seed has superb grass data (65.6% service points won, 42.5% on return = 108.1% combined) over the last 18 months and I'm surprised to see Darya Kasatkina favoured by the market over her in their segment of the draw - a move which looks like recency bias following Kasatkina's run at Eastbourne this week.
These grass court numbers make Barty a top five player in the field, and establish that odds of [38.0] on the Exchange look generous, and also allows us to take on defending champion Garbine Muguruza, who looks over-valued by the market at a current [11.0].
Goerges can be used to exploit Pliskova weakness
Karolina Pliskova is another player who I'm keen to oppose, with the Czech player never reaching the semi-finals here, and frequently flopping at Grand Slams. I accept the fact that her game should suit grass, but her results on the surface are inconsistent, and we can use Julia Goerges as a method to exploit Pliskova's weaknesses.
If Goerges makes it to the quarter-final, Pliskova is scheduled to meet her, but the German big-server will have to get past Sloane Stephens - another player with much to prove on grass - to make it that far. In quick conditions, I believe that Goerges certainly has the game to do this. Her results are polarised between events played in fast and slow conditions, and her record in these quick conditions events - and she will face these here at Wimbledon - is superb.
The 13th seed has the potential to be lucky for us in London over the coming fortnight, and we can see that her 18 month data on grass is similarly strong to Barty and Vandeweghe (64.2% of service points won, 43.6% on return = 107.8% combined). We'll take that, and add her to the portfolio at a whopping [180.0].
This gives us three players at big odds who have demonstrated their capability both on grass and who love quick conditions in general, and also enable us to take on the likes of Williams, Pliskova, Muguruza and Stephens, who we are keen to oppose.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Back Ash Barty at [38.0]
Back Coco Vandeweghe at [55.0]
Back Julia Goerges at [180.0]