French Open Day Eight Women's Tips: Williams faces tricky test against Rybakina
The French Open moves into the fourth round today with four matches from the bottom half of the draw taking place. Dan Weston discusses today's schedule...
Swiatek shortening further in outright market
A second-set bagel saw Iga Swiatek move into round four yesterday and this has seen the Pole shorten further to win the tournament to 2.2 - another win tomorrow would have the potential to see her move to odds-on status with three matches still to play from that point.
In truth, though, it's difficult to dispute the outright market here. Swiatek's performance level on clay has been far and away the best on tour, with stunning numbers, and she looks the stand out player remaining in the tournament.
Williams unconvincing in clay matches this year
Serena Williams is the market second favourite at 8.4, and the American faces a tricky test in the last match on the women's schedule today against Elena Rybakina.
Quantifying Williams is still a difficult process given that she's played just seven matches on clay since the start of 2020, and her performances in the warm-up events have been pretty uninspiring.
Williams' has also not been particularly convincing in her wins to get to this stage. Irina Begu took her to a first-set tiebreak, while the out of form Mihaela Buzarnescu pushed Serena to a deciding set. A 6-4 6-4 triumph over Danielle Collins on Friday was an improvement, albeit in a match which was arguably a little closer than the straight-set scoreline suggested.
Match priced on reputation not current ability
Today, Williams faces Elena Rybakina who is a young player of extremely high potential. Rybakina has breezed past her three opponents to get to this stage - albeit a trio who most will have had pretty low expectations of in advance of the event - and I think the market is pricing the clash on reputation as opposed to current ability.
At the time of writing, Williams is priced at 1.55 to make the quarter-finals, with Rybakina at 2.78, but I think the match should be much closer to even money. Rybakina looks decent enough value here.
Zidansek with edge over Cirstea
In the opening match of the day, Tamara Zidansek looks to have some slight value as a marginal 2.20 underdog against Sorana Cirstea. There's not much between the duo on 2021 clay numbers and looking slightly long-term, it's the clay-courter Zidansek with a narrow advantage. Cirstea also may be slightly fatigued after reaching the final of the Strasbourg warm-up event the week prior to this tournament.
Two further competitive matches anticipated
The other two matches on today's schedule look likely to be pretty competitive. Victoria Azarenka is accurately priced at 1.68 to get the better of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, while the rapidly improving Paula Badosa - one of the form players of the clay court season - isn't far from being value against Marketa Vondrousova at a current 1.74. Vondrousova is yet to completely convince in the last 12-18 months but retains very high potential based on her numbers when she first broke on to the main tour, so opposing her is a risky stance.
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