The Australian Open gets underway in just over a week’s time in Melbourne, and with players currently participating in warm-up events for the first grand slam event of 2023, tennis data expert and Advantage Bettors podcast regular Dan Weston examines the Outright market in the Women’s Singles side of the tournament.
We will have a new winner of the Australian Open this season, after the retirement of 2022 champion Ashleigh Barty. With the event’s other recent winners Naomi Osaka - who may not even compete this year - and Sofia Kenin having plenty to prove after going through tough times recently, and previous winners to them being either retired or long-shots in the Outright market, a first-time winner at Melbourne Park this year is highly likely.
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Australian Open Women's Singles predictions: Can anyone beat Iga Świątek?
The Outright market suggests that the player who has the best chance of winning this year is Iga Świątek. The Polish player is priced at 2.450 [+145]* at the time of writing, and is the only player in single-digit pricing in the Pinnacle market. Due to this, all prices quoted in this article are given with the caveat that Świątek must play in the tournament.
Świątek has won over 50% of return points in hard court events.
Unfortunately for those keen on opposing a short-priced tournament favourite, Świątek does look to be the best player in the field. Of all the players priced at 40.000* or below, she ranks ninth in terms of Service Points Won percentage on hard court surfaces in the last 12 months, and has the best return numbers by a country mile. The fact that Świątek has won over 50% of return points in hard court events in this time period is simply incredible, and shows the consistent pressure which she puts on the opposition when they are serving.
Despite not quite being as imperious in recent months than she was in the first half of 2022, Świątek still has the best six-month all-surface numbers on tour as well, so it’s very difficult to consider that the market is incorrect in making her the very strong favourite prior to the event.
The contenders in the Australian Open Women's Singles event
After a real upturn in fortunes in 2022, Caroline Garcia 12.570 [+1157]* is the marginal second favourite. The world number four picked up the prestigious WTA Championships 2022 title at the end of last season, and reached the US Open semi-finals towards the end of the year as well, plus she won the WTA 1000 level tournament in Cincinnati.
Pegula's straight-sets win over Świątek in the United Cup this week is clearly a positive.
However, Garcia – like all other players in the market – looks at least one tier below Świątek. Even taking into account her rapid improvement in the second half of 2022, Garcia is still running at just a 106% combined Service/Return Points Won rate in the last six months, and this is actually behind several other contenders.
One of these other contenders is Jessica Pegula, who made the quarter-finals here last year before being outclassed by Barty. Obviously the American won’t have that problem this year, and her straight-sets win over Świątek in the United Cup this week is clearly a positive too. Pegula also won a hard-court title in Guadalajara at the end of last season, with some pretty strong victories in that event, and she looks like a very interesting option at 15.590 [+1459]* ahead of next week’s draw.
Players in contrasting form
Another player worth keeping an eye on is Ludmilla Samsonova 27.250 [+2625]*. She’s picked up a number of titles on hard courts and indoor hard courts in the second half of 2022, in Cleveland, Washington DC, and Tokyo, and recent losses have come against solid opposition.
Samsonova’s numbers in the last six months are very strong indeed, running in excess of a 110% combined Service/Return Points Won rate, and I’m looking forward to seeing where she is drawn in the event and her potential pathway to the latter stages next week.
With around 30 players priced below 50.000* in the Outright market, there are plenty of options for bettors to choose from in what looks to be - Świątek apart - a tournament where many players have a similar talent level and are capable of beating each other on any given day.
Finally, British interest will likely focus on Emma Raducanu and the ankle injury she picked up in Auckland on Thursday. The former US Open winner still is struggling with consistency, which is not helped by some mediocre service numbers, and the injury fears are not going to help matters either. She’s priced at 35.630 [+3463]*, along with a variety of other players, and it’s tough to see this being particularly strong value.
You can follow Dan on Twitter @Tennisratings and also check out his Men’s Singles tournament preview here.