Thursday, July 05, 2012



Ladies Singles semi-finals at Wimbledon today and the line up looks a lot like this....

Agnieszka Radwanska 9.20 - Angelique Kerber 6.50

Serena Williams 2.15 - Victoria Azarenka 3.75

Top available quotes are alongside each player. Most of us have a big interest in the outright markets, several of you a huge one !

Before the tournament started I sent the following preview ...


I am going to ease myself into the Championships and just start with one outright bet.

The draw was made Friday and has set up a really interesting Ladies Singles. French Open champion Maria Sharapova has plenty of potential banana skins in her section, she will probably need to beat Pironkova and Lisicki just to make the quarter final and in the other half of "section 1, are Kerber, Makarova, Clijsters, Jankovic and Zvonareva. Masha was very focused on getting that Roland Garros win on her CV, the only "missing" grand slam and I doubt she is as well prepared for grass as in previous years, anyway, given that and the draw, she is WAAY too short in the betting for my liking.

Section 2 contains a lot of evenly matched players and about as dangerous a floater as you could have in five time champion Venus Williams, I did have a feeling that we might see a big run from Agnieszka Radwanska this year, she is a two time quarter finalist and was also a Junior Champion at Wimbledon and enters these championships with her highest ever world ranking of #3. She is a working man's price of 65.0-70.0 on the exchanges and could go deep but will have to hit the ground running with Venus a potential Round 2 opponent and Hantuchova and newly crowned Unicef Open champion Nadia Petrova also in waiting.

Serena Williams will probably be happy with her place at the top of Section 3 and she could play herself into form, she has a potential semi final with last year's winner Petra Kvitova and although both Williams sisters are a complete law unto themselves and I would never entirely write either of them off, they are staring to look their age ( sorry girls!) in tennis terms, Venus will be 33 next month, Serena 31 shortly after and even if that were not the case, the focus this year for both, appears to be the Olympics, which is all either has really spoken off all season, anyway, like Masha, she is too short for my taste. Kvitova is a fair price IMO at circa 7.0 and if she finds anything close to the level she played at last year, she will go close, but the pressure of being defending champion will be huge and only the Williams sisters have managed to repeat since 1996. Of course, with nine titles between them, they have not given anyone else much of a chance !

The bottom section contains another very dangerous floater in Eastbourne champion Tamira Paszek, she is still only 21, made the Junior final her as a 15yo and the quarters last year, also in the upper half of this section is Marion Bartoli and this pair can give anyone huge problems on this surface. However, at the very bottom of the draw, things look quite good for Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and she should be able to ease her way into the second week. She has reached the last eight in two of the last three years, losing to the eventual champion both times, Serena in 09 and Kvitova last year. Actually she has lost to the Czech player in each of the last two years, but took the champion, who was in imperious form, to three sets and arrives here this time with the additional confidence of not only being a grand slam winner, but having thrashed Sharapova 3&0 in that final.

Azarenka is 38-5 for the year, but 26-1 on fast courts, Roland Garros was a disappointment to her, but I feel that much of that is down to the fact that now she expects to win, or go very deep in all the majors. She took time out afterwards and went home to Minsk, I would prefer that she had at least played some grass court tennis, but the Belarus superstar knows her body well and has tended to return fresher and ready to do herself justice from these self enforced breaks. She is still prone to losing it sometimes, but these concerns are offset by her outright odds of 9.0 +, which are almost double what I made her , my price being around 5.0 .

She added Amelie Mauresmo to her team as a consultant in April, this was on a week to week basis and whilst I am not certain that they will be in London together, it would seem odd in the extreme to add a Wimbledon champion to your camp through Roland Garros and then let the arrangement drop for the All England Championships. However, even if that was the case, I feel sure that the astute Mauresmo would already have passed on some useful information, if the pair are together, it would be a huge plus, extra bonus would be that Mauresmo is a very calmimg influence too.

Azarenka took Kvitova close last year, despite making a very sluggish start to their semi and in the quarters she gace Paszek a bit of a thumping, she had eight break points against the huge serving champion, which she didn't make the most of and played to a high level right through her six matches, averaging just eight unforced errors per start, I expect her to go well and love the price, she can be vunerable early, but the draw has been kinder to her than most and we have to bet. 1.25 units Victoria Azarenka outright 9.0 +... there is some 9.8 on the exchanges and 10.0 in a place.

Later that same day, I sent this update ....

They have odds in their WTA Wimbledon Props page for "Who Will Win Wimbledon" odds are ...

Serena 3.86
Sharapova 3.55
Kvitova 7.10
The Field 2.65

I like "the field", Serena and Kvitova are in the same section, so only one can make the last four , so, "the field" will consist of at least two runners in the last four and Masha has a very tough draw , all of this was covered this morning btw and there is a good chance that only one of these three will be in the final four, no guarantee that any will, that, I accept is unlikely but regardless of 2,3 or 4 running for us, this looks a very good value bet unit on "The Field" to win Wimbledon @ 2.65 as a bet, 2.50 + is acceptable.

Those are the only outright positions we have taken.

So, "officially", we have circa 10.0 for Azarenka to win and 2.65 for Serena not to, in addition, several of you also picked up on the only other player I suggested was worth a look and took those circa 66-1 quotes for Radwanska.
If you have all three positions, you are obviously in an amazing position and could trade out all three bets for massive profits today, if you are in that situation, maybe the least you should do is cover yourself on Serena, but I will leave those decisions to the individual. For today, I will just take a brief look at both matches as though we had no involvement.

As I discussed yesterday, Angelique Kerber's body language in the quarter finals was terrible and in the third set, even when she was a break up early, she didn't believe that she could win, it was incredible to watch. Sabine Lisicki then took a 5-3 lead and served for the match, which was effectively over, there was no way that Kerber could win the match at that stage, but of course Lisicki could lose it and she did, throwing away four games in a row, well, at least the first three of those. AK was gifted the match by her countrywoman.

I saw at Eastbourne a similar inability to close matches out and win or lose today, the German is a player who I could never back at odds on against any quality opponent, infact, at the business end of tournaments, I would be looking to trade against her anytime she hit ultra low quotes "in running", as I think she will be "looking" for a way to lose, or at least make things very difficult for herself.

She has played Agnieszka Radwanska four times previously, with honours even, the last three of these all went the distance, Kerber won the biggie, at the US Open last year in what was her breakthrough tournament, but a couple of things about that match, it came when the level of expectation was low on her and the Polish girl went into the event having played a lot of tennis in the previous month and made a whole host of unforced errors in that match. That is not her modus operandi at all, her game is all about making as few errors as possible, she has averaged just eight in her last four matches here and it is hard to see her being as generous to her opponent this time. BTW Lisicki hit 50 unforced errors in the quarter and still should have won !

The Polish player varies her game and pace, she will not blast you off court, but can do just as much damage with her drop shots and angles and the former junior Wimbledon champion will come to the net if she has to, 41 times against Kirilenko in the quarters , she is also the better mover of the two on the surface IMO. I know that I have given Kerber a hard time here, at the end of the day she is a top ten player and should receive credit for that, but she is not going to carry any of my money. Radwanska is ready for the grand slam breakthrough now, Azarenka is the only top 20 player she has lost to in the last 11 months and I take her to win another close battle. 1.25 units Radwanska to win @ 2.42 on the exchanges...... my odds were much shorter, obviously this is only if you are not already involved in Radwanska outright.

Serena Williams has the indian sign over Victoria Azarenka and leads the h2h 7-1, which includes an easy win here in 2009, but the Belarus superstar has improved out of all recognition since then and really should have got some grand slam revenge already, the following year in the Australian Open quarters she took the first set and then lost the second in a tie break, difference today is that she comes into the match a grand slam winner, with all the confidence that brings with it and at 22 yo she is still improving. Serena has been and remains a great champion, but will shortly be 31 and is certainly not getting any better and for me, her all round game is not as good as it was. The serve is still awesome and she will get some cheap points today, but not as many as against a lacklustre Kvitova, she also hit a lot of winners and kept the unforced errors down, but still lost a set to Zheng and Shvedova and could have done the same against Kvitova in a match she dominated. My long wided point is that those good things cannot get any better and she is still not winning that easily. Her return is letting her down, she failed to return around 30 serves of Zheng and as I said at the time, about half of those were not fast enough to get a speeding ticket and delivered right into Serena's hitting zone. Williams is vunerable, if someone can just put some pressure on that amazing serve, Azarenka is, arguably, the best returner in the game , she is very aggressive, but not reckless and if things do not go so easy for Serena early, she might well struggle to get into such a good rhythm on serve today. Azarenka has a huge forehand, is not unwilling to come to the net and has improved her defensive game, her serve whilst not exactly a weakness, is not her strength, but she has been winning a lot of points behind it here. This could be a classic, it certainly has the potential, if Azarenka could fizz a winner or two early off that big Williams serve it might foce the US player out of her comfort zone and we could see that "perfect" Radwanska- Azarenka final....... a guy can dream ! No bet of course, but if we were not involved outright, I would take a little on the outsider at 2.50 +.

No football for me today, but I am interested in the Irish games tomorrow, the J-League on Saturday and probably one Scandinavian fixture and HUGELY looking forward to the MLS matches on Sunday, where I might well have  a fourth maximum bet of the year (the first three have won, all at odds against). More news of that on Saturday.

The PGA tour moves onto West Virginia for the Greenbrier Classic, just a few words about the event today, we will give it our full attention on Sunday, ahead of the final round. We spoke last week about how demanding the AT&T at Congressional was, it was played out in brutal conditions and anyone who was in contention for all four rounds, will surely be feeling drained this week and that must even include, the supremely fit Tiger Woods who did us such a big favour last weekend.

Two players, who along with Matt Kuchar ( not playing), have to be considered the best Round 1 golfers on Tour are new US Open champion Webb Simpson and prolific winner Steve Stricker. Both took last week off and should be thankful for that and should reap the benefits.

Simpson is ranked T7 for R1 scoring this year, 5th in 2011 and shot an opening 65 here last year, before finally finishing in 9th place. He is 22-1 + to lead the tournament after day one, which is a fun bet, if you want to waste a few euros. He is a very nice 2.52 to beat Tiger Woods in a match ( tie no bet) with Pinnacle Sports today, Tiger has won four of his last 13 starts, three this season, but prefers to ease his way into tournaments and is ranked 41st for R1 scoring this season.

Stricker is ranked 20th this year, was 4th in 2011 and 5th in 2010, he is ultra consistent and will be refreshed after a three week break. He is not as easy to back, Bet 365 have priced him at 1.91( tie no bet) to beat Jim Furyk who played all four rounds last week, which is ok, but hardly freely available. An option is to back him to win outright at up to 25.0 on the exchanges and look to trade out if he starts well.

Good Luck.

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