WTA Birmingham Classic Betting Preview: Back Barty To Follow Up

WTA Birmingham Classic Betting Preview: Back Barty To Follow Up

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The first of two WTA Premier tournaments on grass in consecutive weeks is the Nature Valley Classic, otherwise known as the Birmingham Classic, at Edgbaston.

The Eastbourne International is the second, but it looks very much like the best players have targeted Edgbaston this year with five of the world’s top 10 in attendance. The big absentee is Petra Kvitova, champion for the last two years, who is still out with the forearm injury which kept her out of the French Open. It is touch and go whether the Czech star will be able to bid for a third Wimbledon title at the start of July.

Naomi Osaka is the top seed but her world number one status, which she has held since beating Kvitova in January’s Australian Open, final, is under serious threat from newly-crowned French Open champion Ashleigh Barty.

Having already tipped the Australian for Wimbledon, I was as surprised as anyone to see her become a Grand Slam winner on the clay of Roland Garros. Before her recent heroics, the 2011 Junior Wimbledon champion had achieved far more on grass including reaching the Birmingham final two years ago (losing to Kvitova), and beating Jo Konta to take the 2018 Nottingham title.

Barty’s all-round game is perfectly suited to grass and she is a worthy 5/1 favourite with Unibet. That strikes me as a fair price in a field which, while competitive, is far less deep than Wimbledon for which she is currently a best-priced 8/1 with the best tennis betting sites.

There is a possibility this could all go pear-shaped with Nottingham runner-up Donna Vekic posing a significant challenge first up. Also, in the bottom half of the draw are world number three Karolina Pliskova, the hard-hitting Aryna Sabalenka and veteran Venus Williams. But Barty can see them all off if she manages to transfer her Paris form to her favourite surface. And there is the incentive of the number one ranking if she wins and Osaka fails to reach the final.

Goerges the value outside pick

Osaka is the big name in the top half of the draw but she has never really inspired on grass. Her best performance came at Nottingham last year where she went down to Barty in the semi-finals. Her form in recent months has been patchy to say the least, and it is hard to recommend her at 13/2 with Ladbrokes especially with a potential first-round banana skin in the shape of Maria Sakkari.

Fourth seed Elina Svitolina is another who has failed to shine on grass on the past which takes us to Jo Konta who should really have made her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros. Having previously failed to win a main draw match in Paris, the Briton cruised through to the semis but faltered when it mattered most.

Konta had winning positions in both sets against Marketa Vondrousova but went down tamely in straight sets. That collapse would give tennis bettors serious cause for concern and I certainly would need more than the 8/1 on offer with the best bookies to consider her for an outright bet.

One player who looks potentially overpriced in the tennis betting is Julia Goerges. The German had shown very little on grass until 12 months ago when she knocked out Barty in Birmingham before going out to eventual winner Kvitova. And after a last-32 exit to Sabalenka at Eastbourne, she went all the way to the Wimbledon semi-finals where she found Serena Williams too good.

Now Goerges is returning to what she called her ”2018 new found love” after a thigh injury disrupted her clay-court season. She is teaming up with Barty in the doubles and, if back to full health, her price of 33/1 with Ladbrokes could turn out to be huge.

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