Wednesday, 23 January 2013


The shock exit of Serena Williams from this year's Australian Open in the quarter-final stage has opened things up for The Overrule since we backed Li Na at 22/1 each-way at the outset. The current outright odds are not correct in my view, which presents us with an opportunity to cover defending champion and world number one Victoria Azarenka.

Maria Sharapova is listed as an EVS favourite to win the tournament, while Azarenka is as big as 7/5. That does not add up. Although Sharapova has undoubtedly been the form player of the tournament and crushing her opponents in the process, let's assess what she needs to do at the odds she is listed to do them. Maria must get through her toughest challenge to date in Li Na in the last four tonight. Sharapova leads the H2H 8-4 which has gone in stages; 5 Sharapova wins between 2005-2009, 4 Li wins between 2009-2011 and 3 Sharapova wins last year. 2 of those 3 wins were convincing hard court victories for Maria, while the Rome final on clay was a match Li let slip through her fingers after building up a commanding lead.

Li was always the player The Overrule believed would trouble Sharapova the most in the bottom half of the draw and we'll see how that challenge plays out tonight. Despite the career win for Sloane Stephens against what has to be said, was an ailing Serena, the chances of her backing that up against Azarenka are slim.

Azarenka has been formidable over the past 12 months against opposition that wasn't Serena - going 71-4 over that span in completed matches. Her only losses to Marion Bartoli (Miami), Dominika Cibulkova (French Open) and twice to Sharapova (Stuttgart & Istanbul). On current form The Overrule would assess Sharapova as a marginal favourite against Azarenka, although history clearly dictates that Azarenka has a stranglehold over Sharapova (6-1 Azarenka in their past 7 meetings on hard dating back to Stanford final in 2010).

For those reasons 7/5 on Azarenka to lift the title is massively overpriced in The Overrule's opinion, particularly given the fact Vika has the far more straight forward semi-final on paper. That's not to say Stephens cannot spring another upset, she must be respected, but this is exactly the type of match Azarenka has gobbled up since ascending to the top of the women's game.

The Azarenka price stands alone as a value price, when you add the fact that we already have Li running at 22/1 for the tournament and 11/1 on her to reach the final, it becomes even more valuable. If the favourites come through their semi-finals we will be riding a 7/5 shot against Sharapova in the final - which is over priced.

The Overrule is going to place a 5 point selection (our max available) on Azarenka at 7/5. Bear in mind, The Overrule is advising a 5 point selection on the basis you already followed our 22/1 each-way selection on Li. If you did not take Li, the Azarenka price still offers value and is a worthy selection more in the 3 point range. We can afford to go in on Azarenka at 5 points because of the flexibility Li gives us at 22/1 to take full advantage of the overpricing on Azarenka. We are effectively laying Sharapova to win the tournament and ruling out Stephens's chances of doing so, although we would still profit from a Stephens triumph if it's Li she beats in the final.

Here's a breakdown of how the various permutations will result for us profit/loss on the outright market based on a 1 point each-way selection on Li at 22/1 and a 5 point selection on Azarenka at 7/5.

-Li beats Azarenka +28
-Li beats Stephens +28
-Azarenka beats Li +17
-Azarenka beats Sharapova +5
-Stephens beats Li +5
-Sharapova beats Azarenka -7
-Sharapova beats Stephens -7
-Stephens beats Sharapova -7

5* Victoria Azarenka win Australian Open @ 7/5 (Victor Chandler)

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