WTA Prague & WTA Lexington Day 4 Tips: Serena value to defeat sister Venus

Round two action continues on the WTA Tour, with matches taking place throughout most of Thursday. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to preview the action...

Bogdan wins via walkover against Tsurenko

In the run-up to our pick Ana Bogdan's match against Lesia Tsurenko in Prague, I thought we had a strong position with the market slightly moving in our favour. I was confident that we had secured decent value, with Bogdan's expected win percentage chance according to my model being around 61% - much better than market odds suggested. Unfortunately, opponent Tsurenko presumably also felt Bogdan had a strong chance of winning, withdrawing in advance of the match-up with a reported rib injury.

Bouchard with much to prove

Action in the Czech Republic starts at 10:00 UK time, and in the opener, I'm surprised to see Tamara Zidansek as big as 1.77 for her match with Eugenie Bouchard. As a return orientated out-and-out clay-courter, Zidansek might prefer conditions to be a little slower than she might find here, but numbers-wise, she has a big superiority in the last few years over Bouchard - although the Canadian hasn't got a big data sample size on clay in that time period.

Wild-card Bouchard has now dropped out of the top 300 and rather like Sloane Stephens on Tuesday, appears to be rated by some on reputation as opposed to current performance levels. There's always a danger that these players can revert back to their previous bests, but we can only act on the current evidence.

In other matches in Prague, Sara Sorribes Tormo looks a little big at 2.08 in the battle of the clay-courters with Laura Siegemund, while in the last match on the schedule, I'd be surprised if Irina Begu was pushed by Leonie Kung, whose clay record is pretty unimpressive.

Putintseva and Bellis favoured in Lexington

It's on the hard courts of Lexington where I think that there's more value. Yulia Putintseva looks big even as 1.52 solid favourite over Jill Teichmann, who tends to do her best work on clay, and has a very mediocre hard court record indeed. Putintseva was dominant in her opening round win over Ajla Tomljanovic - where she also looked some value - and Teichmann is a sizeable downgrade on opponent quality on this surface.

I also think CiCi Bellis looks like she should be favourite for her match with Jessica Pegula. It would be fantastic to see Bellis realise the potential that she was showing before long-term injury issues, and she had little difficulty in thrashing lucky loser Francesca Di Lorenzo in round one. Pegula struggled past the veteran, Vera Zvonareva, in three sets.

Leylah Fernandez got us a decent result with her straightforward win over Sloane Stephens on Tuesday and her price looked great value then, but the market looks like it has over-reacted following that, and I make her match against the capable Shelby Rogers around even-money. Fernandez is the 1.60 favourite and she looks short for this.

Serena value to defeat sister Venus

However, it's in the big match - the all-Williams clash - on Thursday where I think there's some value. Following the resumption of the tour, the market seems quite knee-jerk in terms of being over or under-whelmed about a player's previous match or matches (we saw large support on Aliaksandra Sasnovich prior to her match with Petra Martic last week in Palermo, for example) but as is always the way, I'm unconvinced that this should be the case.

Serena is 1.46 to get past sister Venus, and I think this price is huge. If these were two random players with a 27% projected hold difference, I'd expect this to be much shorter than this market line, and I think the market is a little sceptical of Serena after she wasn't far from defeat against Bernarda Pera in her opener.

The thing is, I actually think Pera has been playing at a similar level to Venus on hard court in the last year, and Serena was priced much more in line with my model for that match against Pera. How much we can read into Venus' win over Victoria Azarenka is also questionable - she took all three of her break point opportunities against an opponent who isn't close to previous levels.

Given this, I'd be pretty surprised if we didn't see a win for Serena here, as we've seen in most of their post-2010 main tour matches. She's not afraid of a dominant win over her sister - we've seen 6-1 6-2 twice, for example - and I think is value to cover the -3.5 game line which I anticipate we will see around 1.93 for in the lead-up to the match.

American Tennis Player Serena Williams

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