TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) returns to highlight his favourite fancies from the women's side of the WTA Lyon and WTA Monterrey tournaments.
Last week in Doha we were a whisker away from a 14/1 winner when our pick Petra Kvitova made it through to the final. Unfortunately, the Czech was bothered by an injury and was unable to put up much of a challenge against an admittedly impressive Aryna Sabalenka in the title decider.
This week the tour moves on to the weekly grind of “International” level events in Lyon and Monterrey. As it is a week before the so-called fifth Grand Slam event at Indian Wells, it may prove to be a week for upsets.
Most of the WTA upper tier has chosen to sit out this week to better prepare to challenge in California. However, there is still enough star power on show to ensure this week will be interesting.
WTA Lyon | 2nd – 8th March 2020 | Amazon Prime
One of the rare examples of a top tier talent being ready for action this week is Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
The American understandably starts Lyon as the 11/4 market favourite (with various books). However, whilst I expect her to give a good effort in Lyon I don’t believe she represents great value at her outright price.
Since the Australian Open Kenin has lost three of her four matches, and has shown a vulnerability to big hitting players as defeats to Jelena Ostapenko, Elena Rybakina and Dayana Yastremska have demonstrated.
It may prove difficult for Kenin to defend her court if a decent big hitter has a good day on the indoor terrain. This week I am looking to oppose the tour’s biggest names and in Lyon I am siding with a couple of players that play their best tennis indoors.
Alison Van Uytvanck is best priced at 9/1 with Coral to win in France this week. The Belgian has won an indoor title in each of the past three seasons and will believe she can add to her collection this week. Her game is built around a strong serve, as well as dependable aggressive ground strokes and the occasional slice or two, which has been a successful recipe under a roof.
The second pick in Lyon is the explosive Camila Giorgi. The Italian is a danger on a faster surface – six of her eight career finals have been at either indoor events or on fast-playing grass.
Giorgi attempts to hit a winner off of every shot, and if she can find a decent patch of form she could lift the trophy next weekend. Giorgi can be backed at 12/1 to win in Lyon with Skybet.
WTA Monterrey | 2nd – 8th March 2020 | Amazon Prime
Monterrey will host the second Mexican event of the season hot on the heels of Acapulco, where Heather Watson scored victory last week. The big names in Acapulco disappeared very early from the draw and Watson played well to dispatch several young talents, who took advantage of the weak performances of their more established colleagues.
The big profile players in Monterrey this week include badly out of form trio Elina Svitolina, Joanna Konta and Sloane Stephens as well as a couple of names from yesteryear such as Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Kim Clijsters that will likely focus on trying to establish some form in Mexico, rather than expect to leave with the title.
For those reasons it could well be an open draw and there may be some decent outside value to be had. I am siding with a couple of players that know how to take advantage of a weak draw, and which are proven winners at International level on the WTA tour.
Swedish baseliner Rebecca Peterson has had a slow start to the season having failed to register a victory so far in 2020. However, she has not played since Australia in January and took time off shortly after to heal a back injury. Providing Peterson is fit she looks primed to take advantage of a weak quarter, where no opponent stands out as a dangerous threat to her.
Rebecca Peterson is 20/1 with William Hill to taste victory this week.
My second pick in Monterrey is Chinese talent Yafan Wang, who is similarly suffering a form dip. Wang was defending champion in Acapulco last week but she lost to compatriot – and eventual semifinalist – Xiyu Wang in a tight contest.
Yafan Wang was not playing all too badly last week and showed some signs in her defeat that better days may not be far away. Wang has a draw that she should negotiate if she finds her level, and I am chancing her at 25/1 with BetVictor to find success in Monterrey.