Jun 16, 2016
Jun 16, 2016

2016 WTA Wimbledon - Stars in the making

2016 WTA Wimbledon - Stars in the making
With 22-year old Gabrine Muguruza defeating Serena Williams in the final of the French Open for her first Grand Slam title, this heralds the real start of ‘new blood’ coming to the forefront of women’s tennis. Ahead of Wimbledon 2016, tennis expert, Dan Weston, assesses the young prospects at the top of the WTA to determine which players have the biggest potential to spring a shock on the grass courts of London.

Despite Serena William being the odds-on favourite to take on Wimbledon, her two Grand Slam defeats in Melbourne and Paris have contributed to the rarity of a particularly open WTA Wimbledon outright market (three rivals priced under 10.00 and a further eight below 50.00) leaving plenty of room for rising stars to cause an upset.

Lessons from the WTA French Open final

Pinnacle’s opening price for the young Spaniard to upstage the world number one Williams at the final of French Open on 4th June was 2.42. Although from a number’s perspective, this figure doesn’t indicate Muguruza’s French Open triumph was a shock, to tennis fans who are less au-fait with betting markets, this represented a significant surprise, opening the way for the first member of a new breed of young WTA players obtaining a Grand Slam title.

Of the current top 15 in the WTA, all but Muguruza and Belinda Bencic are over 24 years old.

With the opening line of 2.42 drifting to a high of 2.68, prior to falling to a market low of 2.18, before settling back at the opening price before the beginning of the match, it was hard for bettors to work out whether this line represented value.

Of the current top 15 in the WTA, all but Muguruza and Belinda Bencic are over 24 years old, and whilst the women’s tour has traditionally had players break through into the top ten, and win Grand Slam titles, as teenagers, this was the first occasion in a number of years that this was the case.

The table below illustrates the 12-month records (correct at 13th June, 2016) of the WTA players in the top 100, aged 22 or below. The table is sorted by combined hold/break percentage:

WTA Top 100 - 12 Month Records (age 22 or below)

Player

Rank

Age

12 Month Record

12 Month Service Hold %

12 Month Break Opponent %

12 Month Combined %

Muguruza

2

22

40-18

73.7

39.8

113.5

Bencic

8

19

46-18

73.0

36.4

109.4

Keys

16

21

30-17

75.9

32.6

108.5

Kasatkina

31

19

27-13

68.4

39.9

108.3

Svitolina

18

21

32-24

63.9

42.0

105.9

Puig

43

22

27-21

70.9

34.9

105.8

Beck

44

22

28-23

60.7

45.1

105.8

Gasparyan

57

21

21-16

67.6

36.5

104.1

Garcia

39

22

31-24

69.9

33.8

103.7

Ostapenko

38

19

18-16

62.0

41.6

103.6

Putintseva

36

21

23-20

64.0

39.2

103.2

Osaka

93

18

13-10

69.8

33.2

103.0

Kontaveit

92

20

12-12

65.1

36.6

101.7

Kozlova

98

22

13-9

63.5

37.0

100.5

Bouchard

47

21

24-20

64.8

35.2

100.0

Friedsam

51

22

26-19

68.3

31.7

100.0

Chirico

74

20

14-10

60.7

38.4

99.1

Gavrilova

50

22

24-21

63.3

35.6

98.9

Kovinic

53

21

22-22

65.8

32.1

97.9

Tig

100

21

9-11

64.4

32.4

96.8

Hibino

70

21

21-16

62.1

32.9

95.0

Zheng S

78

22

19-25

57.2

37.8

95.0

Schmiedlova

40

21

23-24

59.9

34.6

94.5

Diyas

95

22

15-24

60.3

33.7

94.0

Sasnovich

99

22

9-12

53.9

35.5

89.4

Player-by-player guide

It’s worth taking time to look at a number of players who have the potential to improve in the world rankings, and to see which players could join Muguruza and Bencic in the top ten, and with the ability to compete at the business end of Grand Slams.

Madison Keys - 21, United States

The big-serving American looks to have all the tools to achieve success, with the exception of a strong return game. Keys boasts an extremely powerful serve, which has seen her chalked up as one of the ‘second tier’ of favourites for Wimbledon in several weeks time. 

Keys has already secured a Premier title at the age of 19, at Eastbourne on grass, and two further Premier level finals on clay illustrate her ability to be comfortable on a variety of surfaces.  It appears that it is only a matter of time before Keys breaks into the top ten. 

Keys’ odds to win Wimbledon 2016: 22.94*

Daria Kasatkina - Age 19, Russia

A player of immense potential, Kasatkina claimed the French Open Junior title in 2014, and boasts very strong main tour statistics on clay, in particular, already.

At the age of 19, to have better current hold/break stats than 21 year old Elina Svitolina and 22 year old Monica Puig is a very strong indicator of future progress, and it would not be a surprise at all to see Kasatkina be in the top ten and competing for Grand Slam titles in years to come.

Elina Svitolina - Age 21, Ukraine

Svitolina has been ranked in the top 50 for several years now, although hasn’t advanced much past the 20 mark in the rankings despite a 4-0 record in WTA finals (although all were low-profile International level events). 

Statistically, Svitolina has underperformed on break points (particularly on serve) and should this correct itself, she could get up to around the top ten in the rankings. 

Svitolina’s odds to win Wimbledon 2016: 114.40*

Margarita Gasparyan - Age 21, Russia

Gasparyan has been mentioned by the author as a player of rich potential for around 18 months, although her initial forays on the WTA Tour have been a little disappointing. 

At 21, Gasparyan is still ranked outside the top 50 and has just one main tour title (Baku International, 2015) to her name so far. With poorer stats on clay compared to other surfaces, the young Russian will be very happy that the main clay part of this year’s WTA calendar has now finished, and a strong few months on hard court is essential for her progress.

Jelena Ostapenko - Age 19, Latvia

Ostapenko turned 19 last week and it is clear that the Latvian has a huge future in the tennis world.  Junior Wimbledon champion in 2014, Ostapenko will be looking for some strong results in the next month on grass to go with her results on both hard and indoor hard courts. 

With better current hold/break stats than 21 year old Elina Svitolina and 22 year old Monica Puig, Kasatkina (19) has strong potential for future progress.

Two defeats in finals to much higher-ranked opposition mean that Ostapenko is still waiting for her first WTA title, but with hold/break stats like these at 19 years of age, recording her first main tour title will be a mere matter of time.

Yulia Putintseva - Age 21, Kazakhstan

A player who has enjoyed a strong rise in recent months, particularly on her favourite surface, clay, where she has a 12 month 13-5 record in main draw matches, and a combined hold/break percentage of 112.0% - not far from top ten level on clay already. 

Putintseva gave an excellent account of herself at the French Open, beating Carla Suarez Navarro and Andrea Petkovic as underdog, and took the first set from Serena Williams in the quarter-final.  However, her future success will surround whether she can replicate her strong clay record on other surfaces, notably hard court, where she has struggled.

Naomi Osaka - Age 18, Japan

Osaka has burst onto the women’s tennis scene in the last year, with her powerful serve being her main asset.  However, having broken opponents just 33.2% of the time in the last 12 months, it is also clear that her return game is her weakest area.

Having said this, a combined hold/break percentage of 103.0% at the age of 18 marks Osaka as a prospect of extremely high potential, and it will be interesting to see how she fares in the next few months in particular, with the tour moving back towards Asia.

Anett Kontaveit - Age 20, Estonia 

Kontaveit is a player that many have expected big things from for a while, but with a 12-12 record and just one win over a top 20 player in the last 12 months, it is clear that she still has plenty to work on.

The Estonian is still to make her first WTA final and will need to be wary of dropping down the rankings in August, defending last 16 US Open points.

However, given her hold/break stats, it is clear that she has decent potential and such a fall in the rankings is much more likely to be temporary than permanent.

Eugenie Bouchard - Age 21, Canada

Many would have tipped the 21 year old Canadian to reach the top level of the women’s game at this at the end of the 2014 season - she had already reached a Grand Slam final (lost to Kvitova at Wimbledon in 2014) as well as having broken into the top 10 by the age of 19. 

Moving on a year and a half, Bouchard has been in and out of the top 50 and has had issues with injury and confidence, and has had major consistency issues.  Statistically, she is very weak at recovering set and break deficits, and doubts persist over her mental strength.  Should Bouchard improve in these areas, a return to the top ten will be a natural consequence.

Bouchard’s odds to win Wimbledon 2016: 41.03*

Louisa Chirico - Age 20, United States

The last player worthy of detailed assessment is the 20-year-old Chirico, who has flown up the WTA rankings in the last couple of months.

At the start of April, Chirico was ranked at 124, but after an excellent clay season, has risen 50 places to 74 within two months. Highlights included a last 16 finish as a wild card at the Charleston Premier event in April, and then a superb run to the semi-finals of the Madrid Premier in May. It was a mark of her improvement that she was only a slight underdog (Pinnacle’s closing price 2.25) against Venus Williams in the French Open second round. 

Similarly to Putintseva, it will be interesting to see whether Chirico can replicate success on clay to other surfaces - if so, she can definitely rise further up the rankings in the future.

With these players detailed having bright futures, and the likes of Ana Konjuh (133.83*), Elizaveta Kulichkova and Maria Sakkari just outside the top 100, not to mention the highly promising CiCi Bellis having only recently turned 17 years of age, the future of women’s tennis is bright and bettors can expect a number of new names to grace their screens in the very near future.

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