Kvitova the value pick

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: October 22 2012, 18:23 BST

Our expert Andy Schooler picks out his best bets for the WTA Championships.

Petra Kvitova: Can keep her grip on the trophy

Petra Kvitova may not have enjoyed the season many expected of her but she gets the chance to finish it on a high in Istanbul this week and her price to do so looks too big.

The Czech, who leapt into the mainstream with her Wimbledon victory last season, is 9/1 to successfully defend the title she won 12 months ago.

For a player who has won her last 25 matches on an indoor hardcourt - the surface being used in Turkey - it just looks wrong.

Admittedly her recent form has not been great with early exits coming in Tokyo and Beijing since the US Open. However, confidence should be renewed with a roof back over her head.

The conditions favour her game with her left-handed serve and fearsome forehand able to push opponents back from the get-go.

The draw in Istanbul has also been kind.

In the group stages - the top two in each group of four progress to the semi-finals - Kvitova has avoided the leading tournament fancies, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, and instead finds herself up against Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Sara Errani.

Kvitova has never lost to the latter two and should be able to play herself back into form. If she does safely negotiate the group, she'll then be just one win away from a decent profit.

Of course, such a last-four showdown would likely be against Williams or Azarenka for they are clear favourites to progress from the opposite pool.

However, their prices look short enough - 6/4 and 9/4 respectively for the title.

Williams is just 1/6 to qualify from the group which given she has not played since winning the US Open more than six weeks ago looks short indeed.

Yes, the American, who has lost only four matches this season, has proved in the past that she can come into big events 'cold' and quickly find the winning groove.

But here she's up against the best players in the world from the very start. There will be no gimmes in the early rounds, like at a Grand Slam, and there is little room for error.

If you are looking for a group winner, I'd suggest Azarenka is better value than the odds-on Williams.

The Belarusian has won 13 matches in a row since narrowly losing the US Open final to Williams and has not dropped a set in the process.

Azarenka, who was the beaten finalist here last season, also has the incentive of nailing down the year-end number one spot, something she will do with two group-match wins.

Paddy Power's 2/1 to win the group looks fair enough about a player who has a 67-8 win-loss record so far this year.

It could also be worth throwing some loose change at Angelique Kerber to spring an upset in this section.

The German, making her debut in the season-ending tournament, is another player who likes the indoor hadrcourts.

Both her 2012 WTA titles came on this surface - in Paris (where she beat Sharapova) and Copenhagen (where home star Caroline Wozniacki was among her victims).

Kerber was also the last player to beat Williams, winning 6-4 6-4 in Cincinnati prior to the US Open, and she'll get the chance to catch the title favourite cold when they meet on the opening day.

She insists she is OK after a recent foot problem and, having won 60 matches this season (only Azarenka in this field has more victories), Kerber is worth chancing to reach the last four at 11/4.


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