WTA Stuttgart Open Betting Preview: Pliskova the Pick

WTA Stuttgart Open Betting Preview: Pliskova the Pick

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The European women’s clay court season begins with the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. It’s something of an anomaly in the calendar as it’s played indoors. It was held on hard courts in the autumn from its inception in 1978, but switched to clay in spring in 2009 and has become the first proper warm-up event for the French Open.

There are a couple of significant factors to consider for tennis betting on indoor events. The absence of wind means the ball stays on a true line which helps those who take the ball early. And the ball travels faster through the air which also aids more attacking players.

Aces are usually a decent guide to court speed and, while I admit this could be a case of numbers being used to prove a hypothesis, I have compared the number in matches involving reigning champion Karolina Pliskova in her Stuttgart triumph last year to those in her run to the final in Madrid just two weeks later.

In Stuttgart, she served a total of 52 aces and conceded 22 in 11 sets in five matches. In more traditional clay-court surroundings in Madrid, she served 22 against 12, again in 11 sets in five matches. This suggests Stuttgart is considerably quicker than Madrid and it is something to keep in mind when thinking about your tennis betting strategy.

All Clay Courts Are Not the Same

We can also look at previous tournaments to see how Stuttgart is different. Angelique Kerber is a two-time winner with her only other success on the surface coming on the faster green clay of Charleston. You have to go back to 2010 for the one other time she reached a final on clay.

Big-serving American Coco Vandeweghe has reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the semis at the Australian and US Opens, but never made it past the second round at Roland Garros. She reached her only clay-court final last year at Stuttgart. One of her victims was Simona Halep who, despite being clearly the best woman on clay in recent years, has still to reach a Porsche final.

In the previous two years, Halep’s hopes were ended by local favourite Laura Siegemund. The German’s career had been pretty unspectacular until 2016 when she reached the final after coming through qualifying. That saw her rocket up the rankings and 12 months later, she claimed her first WTA Premier title after being given a wildcard entry.

Siegemund tore a cruciate knee ligament in Nuremberg just a few weeks later, having to be stretchered off court. But she recovered in time to defend her title where she beat Barbora Strycova before going out to Vandeweghe. This year, the 31-year-old has another wildcard and the benefit of far more match practice. While she has not been in the best of form, her price of 150/1 with Unibet and 888Sport is too big to ignore.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

There are no Americans in the main draw while Elina Svitolina (knee) is the big-name injury absentee. Recent Miami victor Ashleigh Barty is also missing after her Fed Cup exploits this weekend. Kiki Bertens is seeded six in Svitolina’s absence, but she has failed to make it beyond the first round in two previous attempts, a factor tennis betting sites will take into account.

With form doubts over world number one Naomi Osaka - who we correctly tipped to win the Australian Open - and Halep, who has never excelled in Stuttgart, my shortlist of most likely winners is Pliskova, Kerber and Petra Kvitova. Kvitova took a set off Barty in Miami but she has never shown her best in Stuttgart. There is a chance that I could be deserting her at the wrong time, but I am going to go for Pliskova this week at 10/1 with Bet365.

The defending champion is playing as well as ever and I am surprised to see her available at bigger odds than both her fellow Czech and Kerber. The reigning Wimbledon champion claimed consecutive Stuttgart titles in 2015 and 2016, but her form has been patchy since reaching the Indian Wells final.

Perhaps the bookies have seen a potential banana skin for Pliskova in her opening match against either Garbine Muguruza or Victoria Azarenka. But both are rushing back from Fed Cup duty and currently shadows of their former selves.

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