surprise: Serena the fave!
World No.1 and two-time defending champion Serena Williams headlines the field as the top favourite to win outright. To win her third straight Madrid Open title the American can be backed at +100 at Bet365 and, to all intents and purposes, she looms as the likeliest tennis pick. World No.2 and in-form Li Na (+600) and World No.9 Maria Sharapova (+400) emerge as top faves in Madrid this week. Although both are in the same quarter of the bottom half of the draw and slated to collide in the quarters, nonetheless either could prove to be a great alternative to those looking for bets outside of Serena.
Take a look at our Womens' French Open Picks & Predictions
Half of the Draw
In Serena’s case, it’s not a question about her game or abilities – those are second to none – but more so about her opponents: is there a player in her section of the draw that could give her trouble in the early rounds?
Invariably, those instances when a player steps up to the plate are few and far in between. And only on rare (very, very rare) occasions – *coughCepelovacough* in Charleston – do they come from a relative unknown or are a source completely unexpected and thereby unpredictable.
So with that in mind, to look at the first quarter is to immediately get the impression it’s quite favourable. She does have a few tricky opponents: home favourite and on-form Carla Suarez Navarro (+3300) as a potential R16 matchup and big-hitting Petra Kvitova (+2800) potentially in the quarters. But given that neither player has ever beaten the American, each would have to come up with something special to do so in Madrid this week if the opportunity presents itself.
Others that could be eager to mastermind the upset are those in the adjacent second quarter of the draw, including Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sabine Lisicki and Simona Halep (+1200). Of this lot, Ivanovic (+2500) and Lisicki have the power game to beat Serena, which they’ve done before and that makes them the most attractive options to stir things up deep into the tournament. But not before they potentially duke it out in their respective quarter to advance into the semis. And it’s the most wide-open quarter, to say the least, from which any one of these players has a shot to advance.
Bottom half of the draw
World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska, who rings in as a contender at +2000 at Bet365 rather than a strong favourite, falls into the third quarter of the draw. Agnieszka’s path to the quarterfinals is strewn with dangerous floaters, including in-form Svetlana Kuznetsova (who is after a runner-up finish to Suarez-Navarro at the Portugal Open last week), wily veteran Roberta Vinci and former-bestie Caroline Wozniacki (+5000). In the quarterfinals, she could come up a whole slew of dangerous floaters including former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone or French Open finalist Sara Errani (+3300) or Russian darling Maria Kirilenko. Indeed, this section of the draw is quite wide open. That said if Radwanska is to underline her top ranking, she really should come through this section.
Finally, Li Na and Maria Sharapova have been drawn together in the bottom half of the draw and both are tipped competitively to win the tournament. Both however have dangerous floaters in their immediate way; Li Na could face Sloane Stephens (+5000) in the R16 while Sharapova could go head-to-head with Samantha Stosur (+5000). Both dangerous floaters are capable clay court players and could stir things up in this section. But form is definitely better in the top camp and, as such, expectations run high in tennis-betting circles for a potential Li Na-Maria Sharapova showdown in the fourth quarter.
Tennis Betting Verdict: As things currently stand, Serena Williams is the player to beat. Thus, she’s the top tennis pick of the lot. Best bit of news for tennis fans, she’s listed at a very tempting +100 to win outright at Bet365. This is a rare occurrence, which makes it a value tennis pick if there ever was one.
There is one player however that can beat her on this surface and that is Li Na, who could potentially emerge to challenge her in the finals. Therefore, for those looking to play and outside tennis pick, you’d expect Li Na to be the value choice at +600. Of course, not to dismiss Maria Sharapova – the second favourite at +400 – out of hand. Definitely, she could emerge into the final. But with her record against Serena, few would back her with any conviction to win the title if it came down to beating the American starlet. Best-case scenario: no Serena to concern herself with in the final.
Outsiders that could shake up the draw or win their quarters include Petra Kvitova in the first quarter. Granted Kvitova trails 0-5 against Serena but it would be their first clash on clay. Different surface, different result? Perhaps a choice to consider on your tennis picks. Ivanovic is a tempting option to win the second quarter, which is a wide-open quarter mind – so not entirely a long shot. As well, Sara Errani or Wozniacki could emerge in the third quarter contrary to the expected Radwanska. Finally, the bottom half of the draw could serve up either Stosur or Stephens in the semis, but both have to be considered a stretch seeing as they are in the toughest section with two of the top favourites in the tourney contained within.Top Free Tennis Picks:
Serena to win outright at +100
Li Na to win outright at +600
Top outside Picks:
Petra Kvitova at +2800
Ana Ivanovic at + 2500