Watson out to avenge Stephens French Open loss at Eastbourne
British hope Heather Watson has a fantastic 4-1 head-to-head record over her AEGON International third round opponent Sloane Stephens at Eastbourne, but that one defeat came recently at the French Open.
Coral make Watson an 11/8 outsider to win her first-ever meeting on grass with American Stephens (odds-on 8/15 match favourite), who is a young pretender to compatriot and WTA world number one Serena Williams.
It’s worth noting that three of Watson’s four victories over Stephens have come in three sets, so superb odds of 7/2 say it will be 2-1 in her favour again.
Elsewhere at Eastbourne, the early battle between two of women’s tennis rising stars, Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and Swiss teenage sensation Belinda Bencic, could be another British player’s fourth round foe in Johanna Konta.
An Australia native, the 24-year-old must first vie with Venezuelan-born Spanish surprise package Garbine Muguruza, who reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals. Konta stunned WTA top 10 player Ekaterina Makarova in the second round, so should be taken seriously.
These two have met before, however, and the Aussie-cum-Brit lost in three sets. Konta is 6/5 to correct that defeat, though odds-on 8/13 match favourite Muguruza is better at 3/1 to win in three sets again.
Whether Watson and Konta can get past Stephens and Muguruza remains to be seen, but awaiting the former will be either Daria Gavrilova, a replacement at the AEGON International for reigning Wimbledon ladies’ champion Petra Kvitova, or Sara Errani of Italy.
It’s a first-time meeting between the Russian, who does not favour grass yet is odds-on at 4/6 to win, and 13th seed Errani, real value at 11/10 despite being a clay court specialist.
Former Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska plays the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova, and boasts a 2-0 head-to-head record against her. Both wins for the Pole have come in straight sets, so why not enhance her odds-on status to win from 5/6 to 2/1 for another 2-0 result.
Last, and by no means least, second seed and WTA world number five Caroline Wozniacki resumes her rivalry with Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam winner.
Wozniacki holds the edge 5-4 from previous meetings, including a straight sets Eastbourne victory back in 2008. Couple that with her return to form, and it’s easy to see why Rory McIlroy’s former flame is odds-on at 9/4 to win again.
Kuznetsova is a real danger to Wozniacki at 13/8 and has obviously upset her before. This one has the makings of a classic, but we reckon Wozniacki in three sets at awesome odds of 11/4 is a great shout.
Coral betting tip: Watson is an astute bet to beat Stephens in three sets at a superb 7/2 in front of an adoring home crowd.