If the sportsbooks are leaving it open so, should tennis bettors interpret that to mean another champion is lurking in the wings? Join us as we preview the Women’s Madrid Open, complete with tennis betting odds and tennis picks for your consideration.
Also take a look at my predictions & early odds for the Women's French Open.
Leading lady, Serena Williams and her half of the draw
Serena Williams may not be the runaway favourite at tennis odds of 7/4 with Ladbrokes to win a second straight Madrid Open title, but she is still smart money as far as this title goes given her current form which rings in at 25-2 ahead of Madrid and includes winning back-to-back titles in Miami (d. Sharapova) and Charleston (d. Jankovic). Moreover, her quarter of the draw, which was attractive to begin with, just became even more attractive with the first round upsets of both No.5 seed Li Na by American up-and-comer, Madison Keys, and No.10 seed Caroline Wozniacki by Yaroslava Shvedova. A potential quarterfinal showdown with Li Na or Wozniacki now out of the question, Serena’s path to the semis is as precarious as a frolic through a daffodil meadow.
In the semis, Serena could come upon one of few real threats to her and that is none other than the former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka, who despite trailing 2-11 to Serena lifetime is one of few players that can actually compete with the great American today. In fact, Azarenka owns the 1-0 edge on Serena on 2013, having beaten her in the Doha final 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3.
Of course, Azarenka would need to negotiate a successful run into the semis in order to set up what should be one of the most competitive matches of the tournament in the women’s game. If her opening game against Pavlyuchenkova were any indication however, Azarenka is going to have a tough time of it in Madrid. Her lack of play since Indian Wells was glaringly apparent and that rustiness could be to her detriment. Ladbrokes tips her at a rather large 5/1 to win the tournament. Not a wholesale endorsement of the Belarusian is it?
That said Pavlyuchenkova was a tough opponent to draw in the first round for anybody. The Russian arrived in Madrid on form, flush off a title win and full of confidence. She was bound to be a tough task so it’s to her credit that she gave Azarenka a run for her money. Things should ease up for Azarenka in the next few rounds – a second round encounter against Makarova and a third round encounter against the winner of the Bartoli vs. Torro-Flor clash. Only the quarters loom threatening on paper for Azarenka where she is slated to meet potentially Sara Errani, last year’s French Open finalist and dark horse at the Madrid Open tipped at 16/1 to win outright at Ladbrokes.
Maria Sharapova and her half of the draw
Playing second fiddle to Serena Williams is a familiar role for Maria Sharapova and one that tennis betting fans are becoming used to seeing in the markets. When it comes to the status quo in the women’s game right now, Sharapova is second only to Serena Williams on form and results. Therefore, as far as the Madrid Open goes, it’s not so much a question whether the bookies have it right. The question is whether Sharapova can negotiate a successful run to the final in order to challenge for the title.
If Serena’s section is a daffodil meadow, Sharapova’s section is a minefield. Quite frankly, the Russian has a tough draw, tougher than Serena does and that arguably makes her a less than certain bet to go the distance.
Sharapova is slated to take on a hungry young gun in Christina McHale in the second round. She then could face either Dominika Cibulkova or Sabine Lisicki – both of which have a real shot at masterminding the upset. If Sharapova overcomes either of these threats she could face one of the following: Petra Kvitova, Daniela Hantuchova, Kaia Kanepi or Carla Suarez Navarro. Of the foursome, Kvitova looms threatening because she has a big enough game to beat Sharapova (she’s a dark horse bet at 16/1 to win the tournament), and Suarez Navarro looms tricky because she has home ground advantage and surface edge as well.
Should Sharapova navigate a successful run into the semis, overcoming the aforementioned obstacles, a whole slew of threats could be waiting – to name a few: Angelique Kerber (16/1 at Ladbrokes to win outright), former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova (a long shot at 50/1 to win outright), Ana Ivanovic (listed at 28/1 at Ladbrokes), Nadia Petrova (80/1) or even Laura Robson (66/1) who is after orchestrating the upset win over Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round.
Tennis Betting Verdict: It’s tempting to conform to the market and go with the expected outcome in Madrid – a Serena/Sharapova final, in which case Serena to win it all would be the smart play. But we shouldn’t be afraid of taking smart risks – fortune favours the brave, so they say. Tennis betting is all about matchups and when we look at certain potential matchups in the draw, one has to concede the likelihood of upsets is real. Certainly where Sharapova is concerned, no? Serena Williams may be the so-called smart play to win it all, but the fact that Azarenka plays her well and even has her number this season can’t be ignored. One can’t underestimate the Belarusian and if she does earn the chance to face Serena in the semis, she has a real shot against her. So, on that contrary note, here are the free picks for MadridTennis Free Picks – Azarenka to beat Serena in the semis and Kvitova to beat Kerber. Azarenka to win outright.