US Open: Controversial Sharapova looks overpriced in New York

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TENNIS boffin Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) analyses the women’s outright picture ahead of the 2017 US Open.

US Open | 28th August – 10th September 2017 | Sky Sports

Any one of eight players can leave New York in two weeks time as the number one ranked
player in the world.

The absence of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka for much of the 2017
season, coupled with Angelique Kerber’s inability to repeat her incredible efforts of 2016 have
created an opportunity for a new face to emerge at the top of the rankings leaderboard.

Current number one Karolina Pliskova has final points to defend from last year’s US Open, and
requires another good fortnight in New York to still call herself world number one in two weeks
time.

Simona Halep had the opportunity to take the throne in Cincinnati, but as has been the case
time and again in her career she failed to produce her best with the finishing line in sight.

Halep fell to Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who looks to have matured considerably in the
aftermath of her second Grand Slam title.

Following Muguruza’s first Grand Slam victory at Roland Garros in 2016 she struggled badly for
the following 12 months. But with victory at the ‘Premier 5’ event in Cincinnati, Muguruza looks
to be coping better with her high profile and is well positioned to take on the mantle of the tour’s
top player.

Other contenders include Elina Svitolina, who has won more titles this season than any other
player; the resurgent former world number one Caroline Wozniacki; British number one Johanna
Konta; the 2004 US Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova; and Venus Williams, who has been runner
up at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year.

This article takes a look at the outright markets for the 2017 WTA US Open. Using statistical
methods I am over 125 units up for the season in the outright markets.

You can track my
progress at the following link – https://gavinnightmair.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/atpwta-tennis-
market-outright- tracker/

Quarter 1

Karolina Pliskova leads the draw and is many commentator’s pick to justify her world number
one ranking by claiming a first Grand Slam title in New York.

I am of the belief that Pliskova is almost certainly going to win a major title in the coming years.
However, having studied the performance of first time slam finalists it is very uncommon for a
player like Pliskova to back up a breakthrough performance at the same event 12 months later –
http://www.tennis-tourtalk.com/14622/will- karolina-pliskova- win-a- grand-slam.

This trend coupled with the pressure of defending the world number one ranking, and some
underwhelming eight week form gives me some confidence that the outright favourite will not go
all the way.

However, Pliskova’s quarter is not overly daunting and I expect her to reach the semi final – a
performance that is more in keeping with previous trends. At 2/1 with Bet365 her price isn’t the
biggest but she should do the business.

The most obvious challengers to Pliskova’s semi final spot are the 8th seeded Svetlana
Kuznetsova, or 10th seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.

Despite being a former champion Kuznetsova’s recent record at the US Open is poor and she has been beaten before her seeding on each of her last six outings as a seed in a hard court Major.

Radwanska has historically been a nightmare match-up for Pliskova but she has struggled badly
in 2017 to the point where her 7/0 career head to head lead over the Czech doesn’t mean so
much.

Quarter 2

2016 champion Angelique Kerber can be found in the second quarter but she is only the third
favourite in the bookies quarter winner markets, and that is based on sound evidence.

The two players that stand ahead of her in the markets are Elina Svitolina and Madison Keys,
who are scheduled to meet in the 4th round.

Should they meet I fancy the chances of Madison Keys to come out on top. The American has
the game to be considered amongst the elite players of the WTA tour and after an injury hit first
half of the season she is fresh and coming on to her game at the right time.

Keys won a hard court title in Stanford at the start of this month and in my opinion has more
upside than Svitolina, who is winning plenty of high profile titles, but has yet to do any real
damage at a Slam.

Until she does that it is wise to be cautious of her true abilities. Keys is a best price 9/2 with Bet365 to win the second quarter.

Quarter 3

The third quarter looks primed to be a shoot-out between Garbine Muguruza and Caroline
Wozniacki.

Wozniacki is a former US Open finalist, and a 2016 semi finalist. Muguruza on the other hand is
the WTA tour’s form player, but her US Open record is poor.

She is on record previously stating her discomfort in the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. In the past five weeks Wozniacki has made two finals, and her route to the quarter final looks fairly comfortable.

The most obvious obstacle is Venus Williams, but I expect the veteran American to struggle with maintaining her incredible Grand Slam form this season.

When Wozniacki and Muguruza have met previously there has not been much between them.
The value is on the New York loving Dane, rather than the New York loathing Spaniard. Wozniacki is a best price 6/1 to win the 3rd quarter with BetFred.

Quarter 4

The bookmakers have identified Johanna Konta and Simona Halep as the favourites to escape
the bottom quarter, but I don’t have great faith in either player doing so. The alternative seeded
players also fail to inspire.

Johanna Konta is a very solid, but unspectacular player and to my eyes she has a definite
ceiling to her game. She is the plucky runner-up the British public has craved since the days of
Tim Henman.

Simona Halep has a big problem in meeting expectations and having been drawn to face Maria
Sharapova in the first round, the Romanian might not be hanging around for long in NYC.

Sharapova has dominated their previous career meetings and although her form and fitness are
unknown, she likely remains an elite level player.

If Sharapova has found more time to read her draw than the latest doping regulations, she will
discover a soft path through to the latter stages. At 9/1 with Paddy Power it is worth chancing
Sharapova to win the 4th Quarter.

Alternatively, Sloane Stephens performance numbers read well on paper and she can be found
at 10/1 to advance to the semifinal. Unlike Sharapova, Stephens is largely unproven at this
level of event, and that detracts me from pulling the trigger.

Summary

The WTA is a land of opportunity at the moment and as with the race to number one in the
rankings it is hard to pluck an outright favourite.

There are some value plays in the quarter winner markets and that is where my interest lies over the next two weeks.

Best Bets

US Open 2017 – Karolina Pliskova to win Quarter 1 (2/1 Bet365)

US Open 2017 – Madison Keys to win Quarter 2 (9/2 Bet365)

US Open 2017 – Caroline Wozniacki to win Quarter 3 (6/1 Betfred)

US Open 2017 – Maria Sharapova to win Quarter 4 (9/1 Paddy Power)

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