WTA Palermo Ladies Open Day 5 Tips: Martic value to take opener

Friday's action at WTA Palermo sees the four quarter-finals take place, and with one match in particular in focus, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to preview the action...

Martic with longer-term edge over Sasnovich

It was a fascinating day's play in Palermo yesterday with the first set loser in the first three matches on the card fighting back to get a three-set victory, while in the final second round match, Dayana Yastremska got a predictably straightforward win over Oceane Dodin as a heavy favourite.

It's one of the comeback winners which we put our faith in today, with Petra Martic looking generously priced to get the better of Aliaksandra Sasnovich, at 1.62. I can see the market's logic here - Sasnovich has been dominant in wins over Elise Mertens and Jasmine Paolini - but she's now played five matches since last weekend and strangely, her main draw wins have been more dominant than her qualifying victories.

I'd prefer to assign more weight to a bigger sample of performances than two isolated main draw displays here, and looking at clay data from the start of 2019 onwards, Martic's performance level is very high on the surface (almost 106% combined service/return points won percentage) and she looks a solid favourite when considering medium and long-term clay numbers.

With this in mind, I'm absolutely fine with looking at Martic as our recommendation today, with there not being much difference between the market and my model in the other three quarter-finals today.

Croatian Tennis Player Petra Martic

Kontaveit a solid favourite over Cocciaretto

In the next match on the schedule, Anett Kontaveit, who dropped the first set to Laura Siegemund yesterday before coming through in three, faces one of the surprise packages of the week in Elisabeta Cocciaretto. The Italian, Cocciaretto, has strong long-term potential but getting the better of Kontaveit will be a tough proposition, even though she disposed of Donna Vekic on Wednesday. I make Cocciaretto's price at 3.20 about right - she has strong ITF data and future upside but when adjusting for opposition quality, her level is still expected to be below Kontaveit's.

Errani unlikely to continue her journey

Moving on, another home player, Sara Errani, has surprised people - not least me - in making this stage. Being realistic, she's probably lucky to make it this far - she's been broken 13 times in six sets against Sorana Cirstea and Kristyna Pliskova, and conceded 32 break points in the process.

What we can quickly ascertain here is that she's saved 19 break points (59.4%), which is far in excess of her expectation (she's won less than 45% of service points on clay in main tour matches from the start of 2019). She's also only created 24 break points in the two matches so far, so she's running at a tournament deficit of -8 break points, which isn't impressive at all - it's reasonable to draw the conclusion that variance has been on her side this week.

The market also has little faith in Errani continuing her journey this week. Opponent Fiona Ferro is 1.32 to get the win, and my model broadly agreed with that line.

Still tricky to assess Giorgi's future clay level

Finally, Dayana Yastremska eased to her win in the night match yesterday and has 24 hours rest between that and her night match again tonight, against another home player in Camila Giorgi. As mentioned earlier on in the week, it's tricky to get a handle on Giorgi's clay level given a lack of activity on the surface in the last clay season in 2019, but based on longer-term data, she has a chance here, although I don't think the 2.96 about Giorgi particularly represents huge value.

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