Tennis Picks: WTA Southern California Preview

Nila Amerova

Thursday, August 1, 2013 1:13 PM GMT

Two WTA events are running concurrently this week – the Citi Open and the Southern California Open.

Though both are trading across all sportsbook platforms, for our readers, we are going to preview the Southern California Open as it has drawn some of the best players in the women’s game. 

Victoria Azarenka leads the charge in Carlsbad

Victoria Azarenka is the bookmaker’s favourite to win the title in Carlsbad this weekend. The top seed and World No.3 comes in at +138 at Bet365 and William Hill and given that she’s one of the best female hard court players in the current game her odds hold value.

Azarenka’s corner of the draw is no picnic though as she’s slated to meet either Flavia Pennetta or Francesca Schiavone in the second round. Both Italians are opportunistic and creative players and can give Azarenka right off the bat a run for her money despite their hefty betting odds that hover above +5000 to win the title. It’s a tossup between the Italians to advance into the second round nestled as they are on a tight money line, Pennetta at the slight advantage at -138 over Schiavone at +100. But it’s the latter that holds the 5-2 head-to-head edge and thus would appear to be the most likely to advance. Still one would assume that the two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka would advance past either, even if in a difficult three-set thriller.

If all goes according to seeding then sixth seed Jelena Jankovic should emerge to challenge Azarenka in the quarterfinals. The pair shares a tight head-to-head; Azarenka edges Jankovic by a lone victory and has three straight wins over the Serbian starlet. Recent form augurs well for Jankovic, who is tipped at +1600 to win outright at Bet365, but the fact remains that she hasn’t beaten a top five player in ages. If she pulls it off it would be quite the result.

The most dangerous threats to Azarenka’s Carlsbad bid lurk in the semifinals where either Dominika Cibulkova (+2500) or Ana Ivanovic (+1600) could emerge. Cibulkova is flush off a title victory, brimming with confidence she can be dangerous although consistency isn’t exactly her middle name. While Ivanovic has the skills and a competitive head-to-head record, her inconsistency this season renders her a long shot pick against Azarenka. Of course other scenarios exist, including a clash with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands (+3300 to win outright) or Roberta Vinci (+1600) but neither is up to Azarenka’s lofty standards, really.

Agnieszka Radwanska second short-odds on fave for the title

In a perfectly seeded world, Radwanska and Azarenka would set up a clash in the ultimate winner-takes-all match. On paper though, Azarenka leads the head-to-head convincingly 12-3 – a run of form that includes seven straight wins, five of which coming on hard court. The upshot of which it would appear is to suggest a rather straightforward finale. Streaks do end however.

To navigate a course into the final however Radwanska would have to overcome tough, heavy-hitters, beginning with Tamira Paszek or Daniela Hantuchova (+3300 to win outright) in the second round. Radwanska is most vulnerable on a hard court where it’s easier for heavy-hitters to hit through her and either of the aforementioned ladies could do just that on a good day.

More heavy-hitting tennis could be on Radwanska’s card if Julia Goerges or Samantha Stosur (+1100) emerge in the quarterfinals. And in the semi-finals if Petra Kvitova (+800), Laura Robson or Svetlana Kuznetsova (+1600) emerge. Her section is practically littered with them, really.

Tennis Betting Verdict

This is Azarenka’s first tournament back since withdrawing from Wimbledon in the second round due to injury. It remains to be seen where Azarenka’s form currently is and as a result of these question marks she’s not the value play in Carlsbad. That said she’s a proven champion and if you are so inclined you could do no worse than backing her to victory.

Radwanska, who is clearly in form and flush off a final appearance, appears to be a much better bet but it’s hard to ignore how loaded her draw is. It would take a great deal of effort and a whole lot of time on court to make it to the final, let alone win the title. The loss to Cibulkova in Stanfrod as well could have aftereffects as well.

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What does all this mean for Carlsbad tennis betting? Well, it does open up the possibility that an outside play just might steal the show in Carlsbad. And if that is the case, we’ve narrowed them down to three for your consideration – Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic or Petra Kvitova.