Market finding it impossible to split Osaka and Serena
Following the draw several days ago, the market is finding it impossible to split Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, who both top the market at the current price of [6.8]. The open nature of the women’s tournament is often well illustrated by the sheer number of players priced [50.0] or below, and this is again the case here, with 15 players in this pricing bracket. I’ve said many times before that 20-30 women’s players can have legitimate ambitions of getting to the latter stages and beyond, and there are 22 players in total priced in either single or double-digits.
Williams struggling since tour resumption
If we look at 12 months hard court data, Williams is the best player on tour, but she’d been justifiably eased in the outright market from around [4.0] previously after a far from encouraging restart to the tour. In her five matches, she’s failed to win any in straight sets and only won two sets via a 6-2 or better scoreline – in short, this is not close to the type of dominance we are used to seeing from arguably the greatest player of all time on the WTA Tour.
Serena also has a tricky bracket in quarter three, with Madison Keys, Donna Vekic, Garbine Muguruza, Amanda Anisimova and her conqueror last week Maria Sakkari all in this quarter, and she’s only priced at around [3.0] on the Exchange to make the semi-finals. Given this and the outright market prices, the market is anticipating that if she got through to the semi-finals, she’d be a heavy favourite against the field, implying average prices of around [1.50] for each of her semi-final and final.
Considering Serena’s poor restart and fairly tough draw, it’s tough to make a case for her at these prices. She, of course, remains a huge threat and when playing well, is still the best player on tour, but it’s far from a given that she will play to that level in the coming fortnight.
Kvitova better value than Osaka in quarter two
As for Osaka, the Japanese player is in quarter two, which also looks to have some notable obstacles in it – particularly Anett Kontaveit, who I was looking at as a potential bigger price outright, and Petra Kvitova.
Osaka v Kontaveit looks like a predicted fourth round match, and the Estonian, Kontaveit, shouldn’t have much difficulty in reaching this stage. Kvitova will have been wanting more court time than her first round exit last week at the Western & Southern Open – she surprisingly lost to Marie Bouzkova – but the scoreline only told part of the story – Bouzkova was 4/4 on break points on return, with Kvitova spurning many chances, taking just three of her nine. Stats would suggest she didn’t play that badly. In an open tournament, it looks reasonable to take Kvitova at more than triple the price of Osaka, at a current [22.0] – there isn’t much difference between their service/return points won in the last year on hard court, and Kvitova retains a very high peak level.
Martic can threaten in less stacked quarter one
In the other two brackets, quarter one sees only a few players who look to have real claims to make the latter stages, with top seed Karolina Pliskova the obvious one. Both Angelique Kerber and Marketa Vondrousova are talented but come into the tournament probably wishing they’d shown more in advance – Kerber has not played since the end of January while Vondrousova has lost four on the spin – so I wonder whether Petra Martic might be a decent outright shout.
The Croatian had an injury niggle in the early clay events after lockdown, but has had the best part of three weeks to recover from that, and is a very big [150.0] on the outright for a player of her ability and underlying data. She also has a very acceptable draw in the early few rounds in order to try and ease herself into the tournament.
Quarter four the toughest bracket
Finally, the bottom quarter is absolutely full with threats, and many players will feel confident about their chances. It’s incredibly competitive, with, among others, Aryna Sabalenka, Karolina Muchova, Johanna Konta, Elise Mertens, Sofia Kenin, Ons Jabeur and last week’s winner Victoria Azarenka all with potential to get to the latter stages. I was quite bullish on Sabalenka pre-draw, but given the brutal draw in this bottom quarter, I’m less confident – an all-Belarus potential clash with the unseeded Azarenka in round two would be a real highlight, and the tie of the round, on Thursday.
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