Tournament Previews 5 August - 11 August

We have just the two tournaments this week (I’m not focusing on the women’s Challenger in Suzhou) and they are both high profile tournaments in Canada, as the US/Canadian hard court season starts in full.

In Toronto, there is a WTA Premier tournament with the big names all playing, except the beaten finalist in Carlsbad, Victoria Azarenka, who has pulled out with a back injury. 

Petra Kvitova is the defending champion, beating Na Li in three sets in last year’s final.  With her ranking currently at number 7, she will need to be successful this week to avoid this falling further.  It’s worth noting that Serena Williams did not enter last year, and the top seed, 2011 winner and tournament favourite at 8/11 will be the player to beat this week.

With there being such a short priced tournament favourite, it’s tough to recommend many other picks because it needs this player to go out or struggle for the prices to change hugely.  However, I will do my best to try…

What I’ve done is tried to identify several segments of the draw that are weak and look to identify some potential quarter/semi finalists, with a view to trading during the tournament.

Li Na is 3rd favourite at 11/1 and apart from Williams boasts the best combined serve/break stats.  She hasn’t played since Wimbledon and can often start slowly but faces either Anastasia Pavluchenkova or Carol Zhou after a first round bye, and hopefully this will ease her into the tournament without too many alarms.  I like her little segment of the draw, with Ana Ivanovic (who I rate much higher on clay) as a potential quarter final opponent.   Looking towards the semi-finals, she’s seeded to meet Angelique Kerber.  I’d like her chances in that and I feel she has an easier than average route towards a Premier event final.

I’ve also picked out a player that I feel can get through a very open segment of the draw at a very nice price.  Jamie Hampton is currently available at 250/1 and I feel she can cause the seeded players near her in the draw a lot of problems.  Sam Stosur (potential round 2) may not have huge expectations after winning in Carlsbad, and may be a little tired this week.  Petra Kvitova (potential quarter final) is defending points as defending Champion but isn’t in great form at all and is definitely a realistic scalp.  This would then give her a semi-final against either probably Caroline Wozniacki or Jelena Jankovic.  I recommend a back of Hampton with a view to various trades in potential quarter and semi finals, depending on the prices available at that point.

In the Rogers Cup in Montreal, things can get a little confusing with the tournament moving between Montreal and Toronto.  Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are the two market leaders, with Djokovic available at 13/8 and Murray at 11/4.  To be brutally honest, it’s hard to see past these two with Rafael Nadal making his first appearance since his shock defeat to Steve Darcis at Wimbledon (and only having played 6 hard court matches in the last 12 months) and Roger Federer withdrawing from the event.  Both these two have dominated the Rogers Cup in the last four years, with Djokovic taking the last two and Murray winning in 2010 and 2009.

Montreal features reasonable favourite success with 73% of favourites winning in my sample - this is above the 69% hard court masters average, above the 69% hard court average and 70% masters average.   In the last tournament here, in 2011, there were fewer breaks than the ATP hard court average.  80.8% of serve games were held, compared to the ATP hard court average of 78.4%.  So we need to be a little more realistic with regards to opposing servers in Montreal this week.

Personally I much prefer the chances of Djokovic over Murray.  His hard court record is significantly better, holding 89.8% to 83.0% and breaking 36.6% to 34.8% in the last 12 months.  Furthermore, he has a much easier top half of the draw, with Murray having dangermen Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro in his half of the draw and even Ernests Gulbis a threat.  Realistically Djokovic’s only threat until the final is an out of touch Nadal who is not on his preferred surface, and possibly Richard Gasquet if he played the match of his life.

Richard Gasquet has had a good year and can make the semi-finals here, where he’d meet Djokovic.  He’s available at 125/1, with a bye in the first round, followed by a clay courter (Martin Klizan or Thomaz Bellucci) in the second.  A winnable quarter final against Kei Nishikori is a potential prospect after that.

Andy Murray has a good record here but Ernests Gulbis has the talent to test him in a potential second round, and won’t be overawed in elite company.  He’s available at 200/1 and should he get past Murray this will shorten significantly before a potential semi-final against Juan Martin Del Potro, with the market likely being in fear of his giant-killing ability.

Recommended Positions:-

WTA Toronto:-

Back Li Na at 11/1 (possible trade if she meets Serena Williams in the final)

Back to lay Jamie Hampton at 250/1

ATP Montreal:-

Back Novak Djokovic at 13/8

Back to lay Richard Gasquet at 125/1

Back to lay Ernests Gulbis at 200/1

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