WTA Miami Open Preview

Welcome to Miami! We’re gonna tennis in the city where the heat is on, all night, on the beach till the break of dawn. Bianca Andreescu was the big winner last week. She looks like not only the best young Canadian player in quite some time, but also a lady capable of playing this game at its highest levels. This week looks wide open as a lot of the best players went out early in Indian Wells leaving them fresh for the second part of the sunshine double. We generated plenty of value last week as Kerber at 16-1 made the final and Vondrousova at 80-1 made the quarterfinals. Let’s dive into Miami and see if there’s any value worth grabbing.

Looking back at past winners in Miami and past winners in Indian Wells it seems that a short tournament in Indian Wells bodes well for Miami and vice versa. Last year’s final in Miami saw Sloane Stephens beat Jelena Ostapenko. Both won just 1 match Indian Wells. Naomi Osaka beat Daria Kasatkina in last year’s Indian Wells finals. Osaka won one match in and Kasatkina won zero matches in Miami. 2017 was less severe, but followed the same pattern. Elena Vesnina won Indian Wells and lost in the first round in Miami. Svetlana Kuznestova finished 2nd in Indian Wells and won 2 matches in Miami. Johanna Konta won one match Indian Wells and won Miami. Caroline Wozniacki won 3 matches in Indian Wells and finished second in Miami. This makes sense. After 2 long weeks in Indian Wells playing long matches you would have to fly 3 time zones East to play again with only 2 days’ rest. Apologies to fans of Bianca Andreescu & Angelique Kerber, but don’t expect much from either in this tournament. Conversely, don’t get sucked into short term thinking and avoid anyone who lost in the first few rounds in Indian Wells.

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                The tables above show us what % of matches since 2010 have gone over a specific total. The top shows just Miami and the bottom shows every hard court tournament. Start by comparing the bottom row, which shows us rates for all rounds of the tournament combined. Another week of overs in Miami it seems. Matches are anywhere from 2.4% to 11.8% more likely to go over certain totals than in your average hard court match. Like Indian Wells, these courts usually play slower than your average hard court. I will be looking to go over as much as possible in these matches. The most value looks to be in the 20.5(+10.9%) and 21.5 (+11.8%) range.  What about match spreads? Should we be looking to take the underdogs or lay the big number with the favorites?

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                The tables above show us what % of matches since 2010 would have covered various game spreads. The top shows just Miami and the bottom shows every hard court tournament. Start again by comparing the bottom row, which shows us rates for all rounds of the tournament combined. Longer matches favor the underdog when it comes to the spread. The winner of a tennis match can only win so many games. The winner can only win 12, 13 or 14 games in a 2 setter and 18, 19, 20 or 21 games in a 3 setter. If matches are going longer aka there are more games in matches then it means the underdogs are winning more games. We see this when we compare Miami to your average hard court tournament. Matches are more likely to be closer by 2.1% to 9.6%. I’ll be leaning towards the dogs in Miami.

Now, let’s break down every quarter, see if there’s any value in the outright market and maybe even pick a winner:

1st Quarter

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Naomi Osaka is the again the one seed and again has an easy first few rounds. Bye, qualifier and then probably Su Wei Hsieh. I love watching Hsieh. She’s crafty and exploits any weakness in her opponent over and over again until they collapse in on themselves like an imploding building. Osaka has played Hsieh twice in her career and both matches went 3 sets. Most recently in this year’s Australian Open Hsieh took the first set and Osaka settled down winning the last 2 sets 4 & 1. If Osaka is playing good tennis she should dispatch Hsieh without much trouble. I expect this to be a fascinating match for a young player with a new coach. I was less than thrilled by Osaka and Jermaine Jenkins’ interactions in Indian Wells and have absolutely no interest in Osaka at 7-1. Until she plays a solid week of top level tennis I will not be backing her as she continues to be a top 3 favorite. She also makes it impossible to consider anyone else in the top half of the first quarter.

The bottom half of the first quarter features the 2 finalists from Indian Wells. With all due respect to Ms Andreescu and Ms Kerber, I don’t expect either to win more than 2 matches in Miami. This creates an opportunity for another player to make her way through and have a chance to beat a vulnerable Osaka. My very favorite player, Aryna the Amazonian Warrior Sabalenka, has a great chance to win this quarter. She has a bye then probably plays Alja Tomljanovic who Sabalenka has beaten twice in the past year. After that she faces Amanda Anisimova who absolutely whooped Sabalenka in Melbourne. I’m going to put half a unit on Sablenka 20-1. Even though she’s on a collision course for Sabalenka, Anisimova at 80-1 is very interesting. She has 2 pretty winnable matches then faces Sabalenka. If she can beat Sabalenka she has a very winnable match to get the quarterfinals. I’m grabbing Anisimova for a quarter unit. I’ll look to hedge in the match against Sabalenka, but I’ll let it ride in round 4.

2nd Quarter

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In the top half of the second quarter sits a very lucky Petra Kvitova. She has a bye then Sukkari followed by Donna Vekic who had a nice win over Johanna Konta in Acapulco, but hasn’t done much else since a good run in St Petersburg. To make the quarterfinals she’ll have to beat Julia Goerges or Victoria Azarenka neither of whom should present a problem and then onto the quarterfinals to face Kiki Bertens or Madison Keys or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or whomever, but I’m not worried. 14-1 is a great price on Kvitova especially after only playing 1 match in Indian Wells. If Kvitova plays good tennis she wins this quarter. I’m going to put ¾ of a unit on Kvitova at 14-1.

The bottom half of this quarter is a beautiful mess of talented players that cancel out each other’s’ chances. Ashleigh Barty, Dayana Yastremska, Madison Keys, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova AND Kiki Bertens all share the same half of a quarter. While this will lead to several great matches, this leads to no value from an outright perspective and that’s before we even consider the winner of the bunch is going to face a not too challenged Petra Kvitova. Pass all around.

3rd Quarter

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The top of the 3rd quarter should be pretty simple. Karolina Pliskova & Belinda Bencic both have byes followed by 2 winnable matches. My only concern is that both had pretty long runs in Indian Wells. Bencic actually beat Pliskova in the quarterfinals. Then you look at the pricing. Pliskova is the same price as Kvitova in a much tougher quarter. Bencic is 28-1, but I’m really concerned about her maintaining such a high level for so many weeks in a row and as I mentioned earlier a long run in Indian Wells doesn’t bode well. I have to pass on both. Maybe Petra Martic (200-1) or Siniakova (200-1) have a chance to win some matches, but I can’t count on either enough to risk some capital.

The bottom half of the 3rd quarter features one of the most mercurial Americans, Sloane Stephens. Ms. Stephens barely even showed up to Indian Wells. I’ve been told she won 3 games in her first round match. She won this tournament last year after another poor Indian Well showing, so I guess things are going according to plan? I have no clue what to do here. When Sloane Stephens is playing at her best she can beat anyone. She could crush this field and repeat as champion. She could also lose to Ons Jabuer or Alison Van Uytvanck in the second round. This makes me so frustrated because I want nothing more than to have an American woman dominating the WTA again and Sloane Stephens has almost everything you could want in a tennis player. She’s 18-1. Nope, nope, nope, NOPE, NOT GONNA DO IT. I did, however, break down and put .1 unit each on Siniakova and Martic at 200-1. Those are crazy prices for such talented players in such an uncertain quarter. Mertens at 33-1 might be ok, but she hasn’t done anything in about a month. Look for bug underdogs in this quarter. Anything can happen.

4th Quarter

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And now the quarter of arguably America’s most discussed mother, Serena Williams. She continues to be priced like she’s playing 90% of top notch Serena Williams tennis at 6-1. 6-1 is crazy in this year’s WTA. That says she has a 14% chance of winning. No woman has a 14% chance of winning this tournament, especially not someone who retired due to injury in her last appearance. If she does retire then the top half of this quarter is WIDE open. This is another good spot to sprinkle on some big underdogs. Elina Svitolina is injured, she had an MRI in Indian Wells that showed inflammation in her knee. Insert Yafan Wang, one of my favorite young up and comers. Yafan Wang is 300-1. She starts with a very beatable Kristina Mladenovic then gets a hobbled Svitolina followed by a still overpriced Danielle Collins. At 300-1 we are going to have a ton of value to hedge against after round 3. Another .1 unit on Yafan Wang. Johanna Konta is likely to face Qiang Wang in round 2. The winner faces a possible injured Serena Williams or Rebecca Peterson. Both Konta & Wang are 100-1. Let’s put another .1 unit on each of Qiang Wang & Johanna Konta at 100-1.

In the bottom half of the 4th quarter lies Simona Halep. I’ve mentioned my concerns about her back injury from last year reappearing, but even more concerncing about that has been her lack of mental fortitude without Darren Cahill. Similar to Serena, she is a hilarious 8-1 to win this tournament. If it weren’t for the rest of the bottom half of quarter 4 then I’d be excited by the possible value. Venus had a long run in Indian Wells, so pass. Lesia Tsurenko might be able to do something, she has a bye then a beatable Xinyu Wang followed by the aforementioned, troublesome Halep. At 250-1 this is worth another .1 unit.

Recap

Look to bet overs, matches in Miami tend go longer than your average hard court match

Look to bet underdogs on the game spread this week as matches here tend to be tighter

Outrights this week:

o   Quarter unit Anisimova 80-1

o   Half unit Sabalenka 22-1

o   ¾ unit Kivtova 14-1

o   .1 unit Martic 200-1

o   .1 unit Siniakova 200-1

o   .1 unit Y Wang 300-1

o   .1 unit Konta 100-1

o   .1 unit Q Wang 100-1

o   .1 unit Tsurenko 250-1

Here’s how my bracket looks:

o   1st Quarter Sabalenka over Osaka

o   2nd Quarter Kvitova over Bertens

o   3rd Quarter Mertens over Pliskova

o   4th Quarter Halep over Q Wang

o   Sabalenka beats Mertens in the final

Follow me on twitter @_Noops where I’ll be posting picks and daily write ups for the entire tournament. Thanks for reading!