Only Venus stands between Serena and Grand Slam No.23
There is no greater sibling rivalry in the history of sport than that between Serena and Venus Williams. No two siblings have met as often on the big stage as these two and just when we thought that history has been written, we are treated to an encore at Melbourne Park on Saturday night.
History beckons for Serena here, as she bids for her 23rd Grand Slam title making her the outstanding tennis player of the open-era as she surpasses the great Steffi Graf.
Her dominance of the women’s game over the past 18 years has been extraordinary and twice she has held all four Grand Salm title as once, an achievement dubbed the Serena Slam.
She is bidding for her seventh win in this tournament, which would place her behind only the great Margaret Court in terms of wins at this tournament for any player male or female.
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Given all that history and the fact she has won eight of her past 11 matches against her elder sibling, it is little surprise she goes into this match as $1.20 favourite.
Venus is a seven-time Grand Slam winner herself, which is no mean feat, but hasn’t featured in a Grand Slam final in seven and a half years, when she was beaten by her sister at Wimbledon.
Remarkably, she hasn’t made a Grand Slam final outside of Wimbledon in 14 years, having lost in three sets here to Serena in 2003. So what is behind her revival?
Well there is no doubt she is in the best physical condition we have seen her for a number of years. At 36, she looks as fit as she has in years, is serving well and is putting constant pressure on her opponents’ serve with her powerful baseline strokes.
But the draw has fallen her way and she has managed to get into the final of a Grand Slam only playing one seed in her previous six matches, and that was No.24 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The bookies haven’t missed that and that’s why she starts a $5 outsider in this match.
These Williams matches have tended to go the way of the favourite, with only three of the past 12 resulting in an upset. What is interesting is that they do tend to be hard-fought. A look at their 27 matches reveals that 12 of them have gone to three sets.
Seven times the first set has been decided in a tie-break, while in 22 of those 27 contests, the player who has won the first set has gone on to win the match.
The set-betting predicts a straight sets win for Serena, which looks very short at $1.45, while a 2-1 set score to Serena is priced at $4.33. For Venus to win in straight sets is $9, while a 2-1 set victory to the elder Williams is a $10 outsider.
Trying to find value in this type of market is difficult, and the best betting on Serena should have been had two weeks ago when she was as long as $3.75 to win the title (Venus was as long as $101).
The bet which does appeal is the over under game count on the first set. At the moment, a total of over 9.5 games is priced at $2.10 which seems generous. They have met each other 14 times in Grand Slam matches and 11 of those saw the first set go longer than 9.5 games.
For what it’s worth, Serena will win.
Suggested Bet: Back the total first-set games to be more than 9.5 – $2.10