Australian Open, Semi-Final – Ekaterina Makarova VS Maria Sharapova
I like several lines in this all-Russian clash, with Sharapova trading at around 1.25 currently.
My model made her 1.19, with it also factoring in that Sharapova has been dominant over Makarova in their previous meetings, taking all five head to head clashes, with the loss of just one set. On that basis, there is slight value on the world number two.
Sharapova currently has a reputation for winning the hard way, with a historical tendency to drop the first set against worse players. However, this has been less prevalent in the last six months when she’s been priced between 1.15 and 1.35 – ten ticks either side of the current market price.
In these matches, she’s won 11/16 in straight sets and this includes her winning the last nine in a row by this margin. Even more interestingly, Sharapova won by 5 games or more in three of the matches she didn’t win in straight sets, and covered the -4.5 game line 14/16 times in this sample of matches. This indicates that Sharapova tends to win at least one set in dominant fashion in these type of encounters.
These type of matches are no stranger to Sharapova, with her winning 5/8 Grand Slam semi-finals since 2010. However, this is a relatively new stage for Makarova, with her only Slam semi-final appearance being a 6-1 6-3 thrashing at the hands of Serena Williams in the US Open last year. This vastly different experience level will be of benefit to Sharapova, who should be much less nervous on the big stage.
With -4.5 games being priced currently at 1.78, and -1.5 sets at 1.77, taking the one tick bigger price with extra statistical edge is the best strategy for this match.
PICK: Maria Sharapova -4.5 games at 1.78
Price correct at the time of writing.
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