Betting preview: 9/1 Sloane Stephens to shine in Charleston

The WTA Tour officially moves into the clay-court season this week with events in Charleston and Monterrey.

The Volvo Car Open looks wide open with a whole host of emerging stars, several of whom are bang in form, looking to do the business at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

Daria Kasatkina is the defending champion having won her maiden WTA Tour event on the green clay of Charleston last season, beating Jelena Ostapenko in a high-quality final. And despite a solid run in Miami you can still get odds of 9/1 about her retaining her crown this week.

Caroline Garcia is the top seed with the French star available at a top price 14/1. Garcia has five Tour titles to her name but looked poor as she bombed out of Miami early after losing to America’s Alison Riske in straight sets.

If the seeds hold here she would also meet British No 1 Johanna Konta in the quarter-finals. Konta dropped out of the world’s top 20 for the first time since 2016 after defeat to Venus Williams in Miami and her game has been beset by problems ever since her deep run at Wimbledon last year.

Indeed since her heroics at SW19 last season she’s entered 13 tournaments and won only 10 matches. Despite this she’s still only 11/1 to prevail this week but until she can show she still has the mental toughness to compete at the highest level again she looks one to swerve.

Former champions in this year’s field include Kasatkina, Sloane Stephens (2016), Andrea Petkovic (2014) and Sam Stosur (2010).

Of those Stephens looks the most interesting at 9/1. Stephens, the reigning US Open champion, beat four Grand Slam champions to win her first title in Miami last week and comes here full of confidence and with a real spring in her step. She won in Charleston in 2016 and her draw this week looks tasty.

Amazingly Stephens is now 6-0 in finals too after that win in Miami, having won her first tournament in Washington in 2015 before taking down titles in Auckland, Acapulco, Charleston and the US Open. Fatigue might be the only worry given the amount of recent tennis she has played but at 9/1 she looks hard to ignore in a draw that won’t faze her in the slightest.

There is also hardcourt action in Mexico in the shape of the Monterrey Open, where Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the current champion. The 26-year-old isn’t around to defend her title this week though and it’s Garbine Muguruza who goes off as a warm 7/2 favourite with the bookies.

Muguruza is coming off a straight sets loss to Stephens in Miami and she’s also just parted company with coach Conchita Martinez. It seems a rather strange decision for her to play this relatively low key hardcourt event in Mexico rather than go to Charleston and play on clay, a surface where she’s enjoyed some of her best results.

She will be looking perhaps to build some momentum before the European clay swing begins but after getting rid of Martinez it remains to be seen what her mindset is like this week and she looks short enough in the betting at 7/2.

Danielle Rose Collins might be worth a small play in Mexico though at 10/1 after her fine run to the last four in Miami. The qualifier made headlines around the world by knocking out seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, her first victory against a top 10 player.

Collins was ranked 167 at the start of the season but has been making some serious ranking inroads ever since and her game looks in great order. She’s a very tenacious, aggressive player who goes for her shots and will be full of confidence after that Miami run so gets our vote this week.

Bilko’s Banker: Stephens to win the Volvo Car Open at 9/1 (bet365)
Best of the Rest: Danielle Collins to win Abierto GNP Seguros at 10/1 (Coral)

Deggsy Bilton