Saturday, 8 December 2012

Opposing Sara Errani

If you predicted the year Sara Errani had in 2012, you should be writing The Overrule, not me. The Italian turned pro in 2002 and up until the end of 2011 she had won two singles titles. In addition, Errani had never finished the year inside the world's top 40. So if I told you her 2012 consisted of four singles titles, an appearance in a Grand Slam final and a year end ranking of 6 (above 2011 Grand Slam winners Petra Kvitova and Li Na) it wouldn't sound believable. Only that's what happened. And that wasn't all, Errani, along with Roberta Vinci, won two Grand Slam doubles titles during 2012 and ended the year as the highest ranked doubles pair.

Errani was one of the feel good stories of the 2012 season, at 5"4 she's the prototypical pocket battleship and has to work hard for every point she wins. Unlike some of the more established elite in the women's game, Errani doesn't possess a Serena Williams-like serve or a Kvitova-like ability to blast winners from all over the court.

All four of Errani's 2012 titles came on clay where she invariably produces her best tennis, that's not to say she isn't capable of performing away from clay, as her QF and SF appearances at the Australian Open and US Open will attest to. However, I wouldn't expect Errani to win a title away from clay in 2013. And the challenges she faces as a top 10 player will increase, her schedule will become more demanding and she'll suddenly become a scalp for players ranked below her that she won't have been considered as in the past.

She'll also have to deal with the expectations that her 2012 performances will now command and the pressures she will be contending with will be very different from before. Can she handle these changes? Quite possibly, it's never easy to tell, and her on court work ethic tells us that at the very least she won't go down without a fight. Although that being said, she was the victim of a 'golden set' at Wimbledon courtesy of Yaroslava Shvedova.

Sportingbet have set Errani's title line at 2.5 with the over being the favourite - to me that can't be justified. In 11 seasons Errani has gone over that total only once. And far from her rise being expected as a player realising their potential, she overachieved significantly and will need to continue doing so to maintain her current status in the world's top 10. The additional benefit when backing a player's under total where it concerns title wins or rankings placings is that injury is on our side rather than against us. In a sport as demanding as tennis, injury is unfortunately an always very real possibility for players on tour.

And with all of these factors in consideration, to be backing even money on the under is a very worthwhile bet on our part. If Errani goes over that 2.5 line, she will have done very well to do so and we can take our chances that she won't with odds that are the wrong way around to how I would price it.

3* Sara Errani to win under 2.5 singles titles in the 2013 season @ EVS (Sportingbet)

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