Australian Open, Round 2 – Agnieszka Radwanska VS Venus Williams
I feel the market has over-rated Radwanska for this match, with the statistics indicating that these two players have very similar levels of ability on hard court over the last 12 months.
Whilst the older Williams sister is the lower ranked player (current rank 18th), this is mainly due to her lack of participation in as many tournaments as her rivals, and she boasts a higher 12 month all-surface win percentage to Radwanska (74% to 68%).
This ranking differential is one possible reason for Radwanska being priced short at around 1.50, and another possible explanation is high market faith in her fortunes being turned around after appointing former legend Martina Navratilova as coach. So far any benefit in this respect is intangible, and impossible to quantify.
Furthermore, Williams was almost eliminated by the talented young Italian, Camila Giorgi, in the previous round, but showed her experience to prevail in three sets. It is of my opinion that the market severely over-reacts to these ‘almost shocks’ and this was illustrated in the recent match last week between Feliciano Lopez and Jerzy Janowicz, where the market favoured Janowicz significantly because of a big win over Gael Monfils in the last round, whereas Lopez barely scraped past Adrian Mannarino, who retired when leading.
Williams, however, is unbeaten in eight matches this season and defeated Caroline Wozniacki (in my opinion a better player than Radwanska currently) in the final of the Auckland WTA International tournament.
Williams is 27-8 on hard court (77%) in the last twelve months, whereas Radwanska’s 31-12 record (72%) is marginally worse. In these matches, Williams has held 73.4% and broken 45.2%, whilst Radwanska’s 69.8% and 48.3% are very similar indeed, illustrating that there is no quantifiable reason why Williams is priced so generously.
In ten matches priced between 2.00 and 2.99 since January 2014, Williams has taken at least a set in 8/10 matches, winning four of them. This +1.5 set handicap line is a position I like here, with Radwanska winning a mere 3/9 in straight sets when 1.50-1.99 as a starting price in the same time period.
This bet is available at 1.67 and it is clear that with the overall match value and historical stats both favouring Williams, that it is a position with high expected value.
PICK: Venus Williams +1.5 sets at 1.67
Price correct at the time of writing.