Asking a tennis bettor whom they think will win the ladies draw of the Australian Open has kind of become a rhetorical question.
There’s Serena. And there’s everybody else.
“We've laid her at all rates down from +400 in July and were laying her this week at +110 before finally making her odds on and currently quoting her at –105,” says Russ Candler, trade manager at Uwin.com. “She's a horror story for us and we're just hoping that the heat gets to her at some stage and she loses the plot!”
That’s a big ask. Serena looked as fit as ever in winning at Brisbane without dropping a set to start 2013 and she’s only lost once since last June – a string that includes an Olympic gold medal and two grand slam titles. Unfortunately for sportsbooks, bettors have been laying Serena at every price all along the way.
She also recently told reporters she’d like to become the oldest woman to reach the No. 1 ranking in the world at 31 years old, so don’t expect the price on Serena to improve anytime soon.
“Every other lady in the event is a skinner (a bet no one is taking),” says Candler.
As we know, there are no guarantees in sports, so let’s take a look at a couple other possibilities. To help me out, I’ve enlisted a much sharper tennis betting mind than mine, @JayPrimetown, for his thoughts on some long shots to pull off the upset, or at least be good wagers throughout the Aussie. Jay specializes in betting tennis, soccer and MMA, and is a good follow for the Aussie Open and beyond.
Agnieszka Radwanska (+2,800 to win)
Jay says: “The former World No. 2 has gone a bit under the radar in the last year to the rise of Azarenka and the return in form of Serena Williams, but has put together a great start to 2013. She won the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand last week and has qualified for the final in Sydney this week.
“Radwanska did have Williams on the ropes at Wimbledon in 2012, so there is a precedent that she can compete in a major final.”
Sloane Stephens (+6,000 to win)
Jay says: “The youngest player in the WTA Top 40, the American began to get recognition after a solid run at the U.S. Open. She's started 2013 strong with her only loss coming to Serena Williams in two tough sets. She moves around the court extremely well and is able to stay in most points. Her morale is high and could be make a serious run with the right draw.”
Related: Finding underdog value in the men's draw