Yesterday I looked at the Mens Singles draw at Wimbledon and provided an analysis of the main candidates and their chances at SW19. Today, I will run through the contenders for the Womens draw. Serena Williams (4/9, various) is rightly the heavy favourite, holding a 74-3 record since the start of Wimbledon last year. Despite being the best player in the world, it is hard to justify backing this price for a number of reasons. I will look at these and suggest my best value tips on the tournament that begins tomorrow.
Firstly, the possibility of an injury is something that could kill the bet at any point and at such short odds it has to be kept in mind. The draw also offers a number of threats to Serena including a number of very comfortable grass court players. Probable second round opponent Jie Zheng is a former semi finalist at Wimbledon and pushed Serena to the toughest match of her tournament last year, with the American only coming out 9-7 in the third set. Tamira Paszek is a two time quarter finalist but awful form may rule out her hopes of pulling off a shock. Sabine Lisicki (150/1 youwin) looks to have the best chances if she can stay consistent and make it to the fourth round. Lisicki's huge serve can compete with even the likes of Serena's and she is more than capable of taking at least a set if she gets hot. The 2011 semi finalist has a good record against reigning French Open champs in the past four years, defeating them in three of the years and not competing in 2010.
The top three players in the draw are way ahead of the rest, often leaving a more unpredictable section which belongs to the fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska (70/1 youwin). Last years losing finalist should sail through the early rounds but may be a good pick to be surprised at the quarter final stage. Li Na (70/1 youwin) is projected to meet in the quarter finals with the Pole but I like the look of Simona Halep (250/1 various) to spring a shock in this section. Halep has won tournaments on grass and clay in the past two weeks and is in excellent form. Halep was once more famous for what comes up in her google image searches but can now make a name for herself the right way, playing some excellent tennis.
The bottom half of the draw projects a semi final between Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. Sharapova (15/2 bwin) has been in the news recently for her public spat with Serena Williams over comments made in an interview months back but it's unlikely to help her cause in taking the title for the first time since 2004. The Russian may well get to the final but with a losing streak against the likely finalist dating back 9 years, there seems little value in backing Sharapova to take the title when she has shown what an awful matchup it is for her over a string of losses. Jamie Hampton (300/1 youwin) will look to carry on her great form from Eastbourne where she made the final but despite what is an open draw, tiredness may catch up to her.
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If Serena doesn't win, then my fancy for the tournament is Victoria Azarenka (10/1 youwin). The Belarussian has made the semi finals in the past two years but I fancy her to go one better this time round and make the final. Azarenka has shown on a number of occasions she can beat compete with Serena on the big stage and really should have defeated her at last years US Open final. She defeated Serena in the final of Doha, defending her title from the year before and continues to show massive improvement as she has done over the past two years. A mouthwatering quarter final is in prospect between the two players I believe can push Serena to the brink at their best with Petra Kvitova (28/1 youwin) slated to play Azarenka at that stage. The Czech was 2011 champion but has struggled badly over the past year and could exit early. However, if she can return to the peak form of that tournament there is nobody in her league but the chances of that occurring look slimmer and slimmer with each passing month.
Simona Halep (250/1 various)
Victoria Azarenka (10/1 youwin)
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