Wimbledon ladies’ last 16: Second week begins with Williams sisters
Despite a major scare against Great Britain’s Heather Watson in round three, WTA world number one Serena Williams has shortened to evens (from 13/8) with Coral to win Wimbledon for the sixth time, following second seed Petra Kvitova’s shock exit.
Up next for Serena is the next chapter in a storied sibling rivalry with older sister Venus. All the head-to-heads are marginally in her favour, though.
The younger Williams sister leads 14-11 on all previous meetings, 7-5 at Grand Slams and 3-2 at Wimbledon. Serena vies with Venus at the All-England Club for the first time in six years since the 2009 final, but believes her upcoming opponent is in better form.
Serena is a firm odds-on 1/5 match favourite to send her sibling home, as the pair have decided against entering the ladies’ doubles. Venus is a 7/2 shot, and her two Wimbledon wins have come in straight sets (8/1 to happen again).
Of Venus, Serena said: “She’s in better form than I am, so I think she has a little bit of an advantage going into that match. At least one of us will be in the quarter-finals.”
With both Williams sisters in their mid-30s, this may be one of the last times they face off. Serena’s showing against Watson suggests her older sibling can pose her problems, but another win in three sets is an awesome 11/4.
Fourth seed and 2004 winner Maria Sharapova, meanwhile, has seen her pre-tournament price of 9/1 for a second grass Grand Slam title cut to 11/2 after the first week.
Russian racket star Sharapova takes on Zarina Diyas from her homeland’s satellite state Kazakhstan in the last 16, having crushed this opponent at the Australian Open earlier this year.
Dropping just two games in a straight sets mauling, Sharapova is massively odds-on at 1/14, and better at 2/7 for another 2-0 win over 7/1 match outsider Diyas.
Also in the top half of the ladies’ singles draw are first-ever encounters between Victoria Azarenka (now a 14/1 shot for the title) and teenage sensation Belinda Bencic, and American upstart Coco Vandeweghe and Lucie Safarova (16/1 to better being French Open runner-up here).
Belarus’ best export Azarenka has made easy progress into the second week of Wimbledon, sweeping aside three unseeded players all in straight sets.
Switzerland youngster Bencic, meanwhile, has exploded onto the scene, following up her first WTA Tour title at the AEGON International at Eastbourne impressively. Grass seems to suit her game.
Experienced Azarenka is odds-on at 4/11 to topple the teenager, and 10/11 to do so in straight sets. Bencic beat Agnieszka Radwanska in the final of that Wimbledon warm-up for women, however, so has already got a major scalp on this surface.
Nifty 9/4 odds for Bencic to embarrass two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka must be considered, and a better 9/2 price says she shall best the Belorussian in three sets.
Sixth seed Safarova’s own progress looks no less difficult, despite an odds-on 4/7 price to defeat Vandeweghe. The American has already dumped two top 25 ladies out of Wimbledon, one being 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur.
At 11/8 to win again, Vandeweghe will push Safarova in similar fashion, and fellow USA representatives Alison Riske and Sloane Stephens caused the Czech Republic player problems.
Both were ultimately dispatched in three sets, however, so Safarova looks a superb shout at 11/4 to give Vandeweghe the same treatment.
Coral’s top tip: We like the look of younger Williams sibling Serena in three sets at 11/4.