Another week, another very handy set of tennis betting tips from our expert Derek Bilton as he previews the WTA Tour events in Lyon and Monterrey.
Novak Djokovic kept his perfect start to the season going by justifying pre-tournament odds on quotes when winning Dubai on Saturday.
However, the biggest news of last week was surely ‘Nole’ conforming he’s in an exclusive WhatsApp group along with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. You can just imagine the ‘bants’! The group chat will be called ‘Big 3 GOAT’S’ (obviously) but it does beg the question, out of those three legends, who the hell is group admin?
To betting business then. The Davis Cup playoffs kick off at the back end of this week so we have a rare foray into the WTA and look at events in Lyon and Monterray.
In Lyon Sofia Kenin, the Australian Open champion, headlines and she is a warm order with the bookies despite some indifferent form recently. Kenin was truly magnificent Down Under but has been struggling to find any sort of rhythm since her shock victory at Melbourne Park.
After losing to Dayana Yastremska last week Kenin admitted she’s struggling to find her game. She went on record saying she wasn’t feeling the ball great in practice and so will be looking to win in Lyon for a much needed confidence booster.
One player looking to thwart her will be Caroline Garcia, one of the multiple seeds from France including Kristina Mladenovic, who will be involved in an all-French tie with Chloe Paquet first up.
Mladenovic could face compatriot Alize Cornet in the semis, but at her best level Kenin looks head and shoulders above the others here. The world No 5, who defeated Garbine Muguruza to claim her maiden Grand Slam singles title, enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence in 2019 and was subsequently named the WTA Most Improved Player of the Year in 2019, making her the first American to win the award also since Serena Williams in 1999. She’s a top price 11/4 with bet365 and 888 Sport and that looks a price worth taking despite some sketchy recent form.
There’s an old school feel to the Monterrey draw, as it marks the first tournament where former world No 1s Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka are all named in the same draw since the US Open way back in 2012.
It’s interesting that the bookies feel a Clijsters win is slightly more likely than a Venus triumph, but both of these legends are available at bigger than 16/1 if you shop about.
Belgium’s Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam champion, had been out of the game for seven years before playing the first match of her return in Dubai, where she lost to Oz Open finalist Muguruza in the opening round. She was competitive if a little rusty in that one, but gets a tough gig first up in the shape of Johanna Konta. Konta v Clijsters could be a cracker and there’s further intrigue as the winner of that could face in-form Brit Heather Watson.
Watson has drawn her former doubles partner Tatiana Maria first up. If she comes through that, she’ll play the winner of Konta – Clijsters. Watson won her fourth career title – and first since 2016 – at the Mexican Open over the weekend and might be worth an each-way dabble at 20/1 if she’s not too jaded.
Watson claimed victory in Mexico with her 10th championship point, having withstood a stirring fightback from Canadian youngster Leylah Fernandez to eventually prevail 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-1.
Confidence breeds success though and that win will have done her the world of good. Konta withdrew from Doha remember with a dodgy knee and if she’s not right that bottom half of the draw could open right up. And with Heather having waited four years for a title, much like a Number 6 bus, don’t be totally shocked if two suddenly come at once.
Bilko’s Banker: Sofia Kenin to win the Métropole de Lyon at 11/4 (bet365/888 Sport)
Best of the Rest: Heather Watson (each-way) to win WTA Monterray at 20/1 (Paddy Power)
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