With the new season now less than three weeks away, our tennis man Andy Schooler takes a look at the antepost markets for the 2023 women’s Grand Slams.
1pt e.w. Amanda Anisimova to win the Australian Open at 45/1 (Unibet)
1pt e.w. Karolina Pliskova to win Wimbledon at 40/1 (BetVictor)
The tennis off-season is short and sweet – the sport’s stars will be back in action in less than three weeks’ time – but the brief pause does give us time to look ahead to what promises to be an exciting 2023 campaign.
Prior to the first tournament of the new season, I’m taking time to think about what could unfold over the next 12 months, starting with this piece on the 2023 women’s Grand Slams – the men’s preview will follow in the coming days.
There are always ante-post betting markets up for the next edition of each Slam, the first of which gets under way in just over a month.
Clearly there’s not huge scope for massive price changes prior the first ball being hit in Melbourne but that’s certainly not the case for the US Open which doesn’t begin until late August.
There’s also the clay and grass specialisms to consider for the French Open and Wimbledon, so, without further ado, let’s take a look at those ante-post markets in a bid to find a chunky price that might just deliver further down the line…
Last season, for the first time since 2016, a player won multiple Grand Slam titles on the women’s side.
That lack of dominance has defined women’s tennis in recent years but 2022 saw Iga Swiatek come to the fore and there seems a good chance she will tighten her grip over the next year.
Having collected more than the double the number of ranking points than her closest rival in 2022, Swiatek starts the new campaign as the ante-post favourite for each of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
For this one, which begins just a few weeks into the season, she’s no bigger than 2/1.
The Pole, who won her maiden hardcourt Slam at the US Open in September, has the ability to make that price look big, yet it’s hardly one to set the pulse racing at this point in time.
It’s always hard to know how players will start the new season and there’s little time to fine-tune things in the warm-up events.
For that reason, the Australian Open is an event which has traditionally thrown up some surprise finalists over the years and it certainly looks worth trying to find one here.
The player I like is 45/1 shot AMANDA ANISIMOVA.
She first came to prominence as a teenager at the 2019 French Open with a run to the semi-finals but not long after that her father sadly passed away.
Understandably, her tennis was affected but 2022 saw her climb into the world’s top 25 with a string of strong performances, including a quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon.
But she’s an excellent all-court player and a look back to the start of 2022 proves her suitability for the Greenset courts of Melbourne Park.
The American won the Melbourne Summer Set event before reaching the last 16 of the Australian Open where she was toppled by eventual champion Ash Barty.
That run extended her win-loss record at the opening Grand Slam event of the season to 6-2 – she also made the fourth round in 2019. Four of the six wins have come against seeded opponents, including Naomi Osaka last year and Aryna Sabalenka in 2019.
That’s a good segue to mentioning her impressive efforts against the game’s elite – in 2022 she held winning records against top-10 and top-20 opponents, going 4-3 and 9-8 respectively.
That’s pretty good for a player ranked 23rd.
Still only 21, Anisimova has the game to continue her rise in 2023 and there are plenty of factors which suggest it could accelerate in Melbourne.
Swiatek is most at home on clay and she’s won Roland Garros in two of the last three years; if she starts the season playing the way she did in 2022, it’s hard to envisage odds-against quotes being around come May.
Yet backing 11/10 shots for an event more than five months away never seems like good business and it’s also worth noting that the second favourite, Simona Halep, is currently bidding to clear her name in a drugs case so there’s a chance she won’t even make the start line.
So, who does look a spot of value at this stage?
Well, the clay often scuppers some of the sport’s biggest names and brings out the best in some ‘lesser’ lights.
MARTINA TREVISAN is a case in point.
The Italian very much fits the claycourt specialist mould and she’s proved you can still be successful in ranking terms by picking up the vast majority of your points on the surface.
She climbed as high as 24th in the WTA list in 2022, largely thanks to her efforts in Paris.
Trevisan reached the semi-finals but anyone who was massively surprised clearly wasn’t paying attention in 2020 when she made the last eight.
She’s a player who doesn’t have massive weapons but does have the ability to grind out points and stay in rallies, a factor so important on the slow clay.
Such skills helped her land a maiden WTA title in Rabat last season (on clay, of course) and one can imagine she’s already looking forward to getting the red stuff under her feet once more.
Three-figure quotes make some appeal with Trevisan aiming to follow in the footsteps of her compatriot Francesca Schiavone, who won this title at a similar price in 2010.
Unibet offer 350/1 which is wildly out of line and seems unlikely to last but 100/1 is more widely available.
They say that tennis surfaces have homogenised yet plenty of the sport’s biggest players remain flummoxed by the lawns of the All England Club.
This is undoubtedly where Swiatek will be most vulnerable in 2023 and that’s reflected in her price of 4/1 – her biggest in the four markets we’re looking at today.
The world number one arrived in SW19 on a long winning streak last season yet still looked very opposable given her poor record on the surface. It was no real surprise to see her beaten in week one.
She certainly looks worth taking on at this point in time and the player who has the potential to shorten up dramatically is KAROLINA PLISKOVA.
Given how she was playing at the end of 2022, some will doubtless laugh but it’s only 18 months since she was contesting the Wimbledon final (losing in three sets to Ash Barty).
Her coach for that run was the highly-regarded Sascha Bajin, who also guided Naomi Osaka to Grand Slam titles and was part of Serena Williams’ camp in her prime.
The two recently reunited and Bajin will doubtless look to get Pliskova’s famous serve firing again – it is one of the biggest in the women’s game and played a big part in her Wimbledon run of 2021.
A full pre-season will also help.
This time last year Pliskova fell in the gym and broke her arm. She duly missed the start of the season and it look a long time to get up to speed.
To be fair, she eventually did during the summer hardcourt season, reaching the semis in Toronto before progressing to the last eight of the US Open, efforts which showed that when conditions suit, she can still deliver.
With Bajin back in her corner and having now turned 30, a fully-focused Pliskova may be able to bounce back in 2023 and produce a title challenge at Wimbledon, for which she is a 40/1 chance.
I would not be at all surprised if this was cut in half by June.
The last Grand Slam tournament of the season always offers the greatest scope for price change in the ante-post markets.
The first ball is still more than eight months away and so trying to pick out a big price now is largely asking yourself ‘who is going to leap out of the pack in the new season?’
Well, it might just pay to take a chance on it being LINDA FRUHVIRTOVA.
The 17-year-old is the youngest player in the top 100 having climbed more than 200 ranking places in 2022.
She’s a graduate of the famous Mouratoglou Academy in southern France, run by Serena Williams’ former coach Patrick Mouratoglou, and after winning multiple titles on the ITF World Tour in 2021, last season she began to make inroads on the main WTA Tour.
The Czech made the fourth round in Miami after beating Elise Mertens and Victoria Azarenka, and later in the year claimed her maiden WTA title in Chennai.
The hard-hitting baseliner has never hidden her ambitions, saying in several interviews that she wants to “become world number one” and “win Grand Slams” but there are others also tipping her for greatness.
Tomas Josefus, her captain in the Czech Republic’s girls’ team, has compared her with Coco Gauff.
Speaking in 2019, he said: “Two years ago, I watched some of Cori Gauff’s matches at the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals. I expected Cori would become a very good player and I predict a similar outcome for Linda.”
She’s certainly one to keep an eye on in 2023 and while the US Open may come too soon, if there’s a player who bursts out of the pack before then, there’s every chance it’s Fruhvirtova.
Sadly the best price I can see at this point is 50/1, although I also expect someone will be prepared to dangle three figures if asked.
Published at 1440 GMT on 09/12/22
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