Wimbledon 2021 starts on Monday, and following Friday's draw, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to discuss the women's singles draw in detail and finalise his outright selections...
"Kvitova has an excellent long-term grass record - she's running at over 108% combined service/return points won on the surface in the last three years - and possesses a strong serve that will be very difficult to break in quick conditions."
Barty now marginal tournament favourite over Serena
Friday's draw has created a fascinating dynamic with a couple of brutal quarters with numerous contenders for the title - particularly quarter one and quarter two - but a less stacked bottom half of the draw, in particular quarter three.
Following this, we see a very slight change at the top of the market, with Ash Barty 8.07/1 now having marginal favourite status over Serena Williams 8.27/1. These are the only two players below 15.014/1 in the outrights, adequately illustrating what a competitive tournament this looks in advance. Aryna Sabalenka 15.014/1, Petra Kvitova 17.016/1 and Iga Swiatek 19.018/1 are the next tier of players, priced below 20.019/1.
Kvitova has the ability to emerge victorious
So who can win? That's a pretty simplistic question. About 30 players in the field will have realistic hopes of making the latter stages, so it's better just to evaluate the draw and find some evidence that a player is going to be capable of mounting a challenge over the next two weeks. Primarily, given the lack of recent grass data, this is likely to focus on success in the quicker condition events this year, having the benefit of a big serve and/or a strong long-term grass court record.
One player who fits the bill to a strong extent here is Petra Kvitova. She's been placed in quarter three which looks one of the easier brackets, although she does have the inconsistent former Grand Slam winner Sloane Stephens in her opening match.
I'd anticipate that the likes of Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin would be expected by many to be Kvitova's major threats in the quarter though, but both have uninspiring performance levels on other surfaces this year.
Kvitova has an excellent long-term grass record - she's running at over 108% combined service/return points won on the surface in the last three years - and possesses a strong serve that will be very difficult to break in quick conditions. In fact, she's held serve over 80% of the time on grass in that time period. At 17.016/1, she's my outright market selection.
In my pre-draw preview which was posted earlier in the week, I chatted a little about the chances of some talented younger players with upside and highlighted Karolina Muchova and Amanda Anisimova as several to watch.
Muchova has a tricky first few rounds and is in the extremely stacked second quarter with potential meetings against the quick-conditions specialist Camila Giorgi in round two and then French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in round three - another player who generally does her better work in quicker conditions.
As for Anisimova, the American's main hurdle is top-ten player Elina Svitolina in round two, assuming she beats Magda Linette in round one. Svitolina has generally underwhelmed in Slams in the past though, so she's certainly beatable, but ideally we'd prefer an easier opening couple of matches for Anisimova, and that's the risk when a player is unseeded.
At the time of writing, 26 players are below 100.0099/1 in the outright market, which shows how competitive the tournament is likely to be. Expect 'upsets' and big names dropping out in the early rounds and the field to be thinned out a little by the end of week one, and I'll be returning tomorrow with my thoughts on the opening day's play.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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