Australian Open women’s singles round one: Serena starts defence
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | January 16, 2016
2016 Australian Open
- Women’s singles round one
- Monday, January 18th
- Play scheduled to start: 00:00 GMT
- Melbourne Park, Melbourne
- Live on Eurosport
Williams begins title bid with Giorgi game
WTA World number one Serena Williams is seeking a seventh Australian Open women’s singles success in Melbourne, but is far from a strong favourite for further success Down Under.
At 10/3 with Coral, Serena is only just ahead of fellow multiple winner Victoria Azarenka in the outright betting.
First round foe and Italy’s world number 36 Camila Giorgi holds no fear for Williams, as she has won both their previous meetings in straight sets.
Punters can thus enhance Serena’s overwhelmingly odds-on 1/8 price to win this match by backing her for another 2-0 victory at 4/11.
This section of the draw looks like plain sailing for the defending champion, leading to a likely fourth round fixture with either Sara Errani or Caroline Wozniacki, whose ranking has dropped considerably from fifth to 18th.
Bencic must run the Riske
Swiss teenage talent Belinda Bencic has been tipped to make a real impact at the Australian Open this year, but the 12th seed faces Alison Riske – an opponent she lost her only previous encounter with.
Bencic should level the head-to-head, however, as she’s odds-on at 2/9 for victory, but American player Riske is a tasty 10/3 to make it two wins out of two and a 7/1 shot to do so in straight sets.
Getting behind Bencic to come through a tough examination 2-1 also appeals alternatively at 11/4, and the winner of the Riske clash could potentially face Great Britain’s Heather Watson.
Will Watson come through Babos battle?
Just seven places in the WTA rankings separate Watson and Hungarian opponent Timea Babos, who the Briton holds a 2-1 advantage over on past meetings.
It’s one win apiece on hard court surfaces, though, and that is why both women are rated equal 10/11 prospects for victory.
The patriotic bet is to side with Watson, who has made round three of the Australian Open before, and it’s a tempting 2/1 chance for her to advance beyond Babos in straight sets.
With 2008 champion Maria Sharapova (10/1 to repeat this year) the marquee name in their section, Bencic or Watson will have a stern examination in the last 16 should either manage to progress that far.
Radwanska and Kvitova look destined to meet in quarters
Central Europe’s contingent in the women’s game is once again led at the Australian Open by world number four Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic).
Both are massive odds-on favourites to win their first round fixtures against Christina McHale and Luksika Kumkhum respectively.
In section three, Eugenie Bouchard is a likely second opponent for Radwanska, then 2011 US Open champ Sam Stosur and either Sloane Stephens or Roberta Vinci in the last 16. Who could clash with Kvitova in forthcoming fixtures is less clear cut, however.
Consider Gavrilova and Cibulkova gambits
Melbourne resident Daria Gavrilova will hope to have the home crowd behind her after switching allegiance from homeland Russia, but must beat Kvitova’s compatriot Lucie Hradecka, who is 12/5 to trouble the Aussie representative.
Gavrilova must bring her best game here and not take her odds-on 1/3 match favourite status for granted. This is a first-ever encounter for the youngster with 30-year-old Hradecka.
Sticking with the Central European theme, Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova was a surprise Australian Open finalist two years ago, so will fancy her chances of getting past 28th seed Kristina Mladenovic.
Cibulkova is odds-on at 1/2 to win their match, having beaten Mladenovic (13/8) on all five previous occasions they’ve met, including three times on hard courts. Two of those victories have been in straight sets, so 5/4 for that to happen again is worth a punt.