مرحبا بكم في الدوحة! Google translate says that means, “Welcome to Doha!” It’s another week and another hard court tournament in Middle Eastern city that starts with D. Last week in Dubai was a great one for Jelena Ostapenko and us as we cash our first outright ticket of the season at 40 to 1 odds. We’ll have similar conditions to last week, although the courts tend to be a little slower, and this week is a WTA1000 which means more ranking points, more money, and more of the best players the WTA has to offer. It’s going to be another fantastic week of tennis so let’s dive into the draw, pick a winner, and hopefully find some value in the betting markets.
It’s been a rough start to the season for the #1 seed in the tournament and the #1 player in my heart, Aryna Sabalenka. She’s just 4-4 in 2022 including one loss in which she hit underhand serves and the chair umpire stopped to ask if she was ok. Sabalenka has won only a single match in straight sets this season. Despite all of that, she has a soft draw and won the title here in 2020. Luckily she’s only 10 to 1 lift the trophy this week which isn’t enough value to bet on her now. I will keep an eye on her to see if these courts help her get back to playing great tennis.
One of the bigger misses for me on the season has been outright wagers on Elena Rybakina. She did finish 2nd for us in Adelaide 1 which allowed us to break even but retired in the 2nd round of the Australian Open and withdrew before her 2nd match in St. Petersburg a little more than a week ago. Elena is 25 to 1 to win this event which would normally be an appealing number but not this week. She quit the 2 events which raises doubts about her physical fitness and her draw is fairly difficult. Her path is likely to be Vondrousova, Kasatkina, Swiatek, and Sabalenka just to get out of her quarter. Rybakina can win all of those matches and I’d love to see her do just that, but betting her match to match should yield better than the 25 to 1 odds in the outright markets and we can watch a match or 2 to see if she’s still injured.
Daria Kasatkina made the quarterfinals here in 2017, but is 0-2 in all her main draw matches in Doha since then. 2021 was her best hard court season since 2018 and Kasatkina carried that momentum into 2022 with an 8-4 start. The bad news is that she’s back to struggling against top competition. He losses are to Swiatek twice, Badosa, and Anisimova. She did best Muguruza 4 & 4, but the rest of her wins came with her the favorite and the Russian was only +165(2,65) against Muguruza. Even at 40 to 1, I can’t advise anyone back her pretournament. Don’t be afraid to back her in individual matches, it would require a few “best wins of the year” for her to lift the trophy this week and the price is probably worse than you’ll do match to match.
Although she lost in the semifinals, I thought Iga Swiatek had a good Australian Open and a solid start down under overall. The 20 year old has just 3 losses on the season, 2 to the eventual tournament champion and the other the 2nd place finisher. At 7.5 to 1, Iga is the second favorite to win Doha which makes a lot of sense, but doesn’t offer us any value. Swiatek has a first round bye then Golubic or a qualifier, Rybakina/Kasatkina, and then Sabalenka to get out of the quarter. I’m going to watch her first few matches and if she’s playing well hope Sabalenka makes the quarterfinals at which point I’ll back Swiatek in that match and possibly in the live outright markets. Nothing for now, but keep an eye on her.
Paula Badosa started her season with a loss to Azarenka followed by 8 wins in a row, including a title in Sydney. Her next 2 matches didn’t go so well as she was one of the women who got run over by Madison Keys in January and lost to Elena Gabriela Ruse in her first match in Dubai, last week. 20 to 1 may look appealing, but take a look at her draw. Badosa starts with a bye which helps her odd, but the Spaniard could probably use a 1st round match to build some form before facing the winner of Bencic/Tauson, Halep or Gauff, Pegula or Sakkari, and then winner of quarter 1 to even make the final. Similar to Swiatek, I’ll watch her for a match or 2 and if Paula is playing well I’ll be happy to back her in big matches and maybe outright mid tournament, but there’s no value in betting on her now.
As I just mentioned, Belinda Bencic faces Clara Tauson in round 1 which means you really shouldn’t bet on either to win the tournament. It should be a spectacular match and either have the talent to rip through this field, but even at 25 to 1 and 50 to 1 respectively there’s no reason to back either now. If you have a strong opinion on that match, which I don’t, betting the outright could make sense. To me, it looks like a true coinflip. I’ll be sure to watch the match, but I won’t be betting on either to win the tournament for now.
The WTA is more fun when Simona Halep is winning matches and boy, is she doing a lot of that in 2022. Halep is 12-2 this season and won the title in Melbourne 1. The Romanian is far from her peak form, but still has the game and tenacity to be a threat in every match she plays. Unfortunately, the mind may be more willing than the body as she continues. She’s had a history of back and leg injuries which generally get worse with time. Can she beat Garcia, Gauff, Badosa/Bencic/Tauson, Pegula/Sakkari, the winner of quarter 1 and the whoever makes it through the bottom half? Of course she can. Should she be the 3rd betting favorite to win this event at 8 to 1? Absolutely not and with all due respect, that made me laugh literally out loud. This quarter is much more difficult than the market seems to think and Halep is being priced as if she’s close to her peak form. It could happen, but don’t bet on it.
At some point, Coco Gauff is going to win a tournament like this and probably more than once, but what about this time? She hasn’t won a set since losing in 3 to Madison Keys in Adelaide 2. This will be Gauff’s first time on these courts, she’s in a tough spot in the draw, and is only 30 to 1 in the outright betting markets. It’s going to happen, but I’m not certainly not betting on it this time.
It’s time for a bet. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a sucker for Jessica Pegula, but at this price in this spot of the draw, I’m ready to do it. She’ll be a strong favorite against Siniakova in round 1 and a qualifier in round 2. Next up would be Maria Sakkari and I’ll happily back Pegula in that match. Pegula beat the Greek at the Australian Open and has the level to best her again here. The quarterfinal could be tricky, but Badosa is on a downswing, Halep’s back could fail at any moment, and Gauff lost to Pegula in short order just last week. Her price in the outright markets is 20 to 1 and I’ll grab that now. Pegula made the semifinals last year as a qualifier and lost to the eventual champion, Petra Kvitova. If quarter markets open, I’ll back her there as well.
Maria Sakkari is one of the best athletes on tour and a consistent performer, but she’s yet to break through into the top tier of the WTA. Her title in Rabat in 2019 is her only WTA level title. Sakkari did make the final in her last tournament, St. Petersburg, and came as close as anyone to beating Kontaveit indoors. At only 15 to 1, and much lower other places, you’d be silly to back her to win her 2nd ever WTA tournament with a field this talented.
Ons Jabeur looks to be fully recovered from her injury in the Sydney quarterfinals. She’s one of the smartest player on tour, but seems to lack the physical gifts of some of the best players and even more annoying, has been prone to injuries throughout her career. Even with one of the easier draws for a seeded player, you can’t back Jabeur to win this event which would be her second title at the WTA level. Her price makes things even more unappealing at only 16 to 1. Despite being one of my favorite players, I cannot advise anyone bet their hard earned money on Jabeur to lift the trophy this week.
There was once a time when Elina Svitolina Monfils would have been an attractive dark horse to win a tournament like this. She has a soft spot in the draw and potentially faces women she’s beaten or might just implode all the way through the final. She’s just 3-4 in 2022, has only 1 title since 2020, and anecdotally, doesn’t quite look herself as of late. You can bet on her at a price as high as 40 to 1 to win this tournament and honestly, if you really want, I’ll give you 50 to 1. Slide into the DMs if you’re interested.
The defending champion, Petra Kvitova, showed signs of greatness last week in Dubai. She struggled to recover from a few injuries last year which is always tough for an older player on tour, but especially for anyone trying to play a full tennis schedule. These are particularly comfortable confines for her and could easily ride her from last week into a deep run this week. Kvitova won the title last year, finished 2nd in 2020, and won it in 2018. In fact, she’s only played this tournament once without making the quarterfinals. Kvitova is 25 to 1 to win this year and although she’s very close to Kontaveit, I have to add her to the portfolio. Once quarter prices open, I’ll bet on her there as well.
Unfortunately for the aforementioned Estonian, this tournament will be played outdoors. Anett Kontaveit is having one of the best hard court runs in recent history, but most of that success has been indoors. Whether it be the sun, the wind, the birds, and/or anything else, but some players are much more comfortable with a roof over their head. Kontaveit did make the quarterfinal last year and certainly has the talent to blitz through this quarter, beat the winner of the 4th quarter, and take yet another title, but should be the favorite to win the title? Regardless of your opinion, she is the betting favorite at 6 to 1 and I’ll happily pass on that price. With her bye she has to win 5 matches in a row and Kontaveit would have be -210(1,47) or better in all of her matches to beat that outright price. I’d wager you’ll do better than betting her each round and rolling it over to the next round.
Garbiñe Muguruza is a threat to win any event and outside of matches against Kvitova or Barty has done very well here in her last 3 appearances. She finished 2nd in 2021, lost in the quarterfinals in 2020, and finished 2nd in 2018. Barty isn’t playing in the event and if Muguruza had to play Petra it would be in the semifinals. Similar to Kvitova, she’s had a less than stellar start to the season, but if there was ever a place for her to snap in form and show us very best it could be here. At 16 to 1, I did consider backing her, but we’ll do better backing her match to match instead of right now at that price. There are a couple of good players lurking in the bottom half of the quarter, possibly Petra in the semis, and a top-quality opponent in the final. If she starts hot, get onboard quickly, but nothing for now.
One of the few women who can compete with Kvitova’s level of success in Doha is Victoria Azarenka. The Belarussian did drop a set before having to withdraw prior to the semifinals in 2021, finished 2nd in 2015, and won back to back years in 2013 & 2012. Now, it’s been quite some time since that success and she hasn’t been close to level this year. Azarenka is around 15 to 1 to be the champion which is one of the most laughable prices in the market. The only way that price has value is if you know for certain we’ll the best of her in every point all week. Was that clear enough? If not, DON’T BET ON VICTORIA AZARENKA TO WIN DOHA.
WARNING!!! WARNING!!! VICTORY LAP INCOMING!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!!
Who is more fun to watch than Jelena Ostapenko? The only possibly more fun that cashing her outright last was watching her win all those matches and then getting to use all of her GIFs. I love the way she’s leaned into her love of hitting winner and focusing on making points as short as possible. She’s 25 or less to 1 to win titles in back to back weeks. A small part of me thinks she might not show up at all, an even bigger part of me think she shows up to cash the check and bails, and the biggest part of me hates her draw. Jelena, thanks for Dubai, but we’re going to look elsewhere in Doha.
Amanda Anisimova has been quietly getting back to playing her best tennis which might some of the best tennis in the WTA. She opened the season with 8 consecutive wins including a title in Melbourne 2. The streak was broken by Barty in the Australian Open which is perfectly fine, but followed that up with a 5-7 6(5)-7 loss to Madison Brengle of all people in Dubai. As much of a bummer as that last part is, these are great conditions for her game and has 2 very winnable matches to get comfortable. Round 3 and beyond could be rough, but at 30 to 1 or better there’s value in her outright price. There’s a good chance a few big names get knocked out along the way and she’s the type of player that will pick up momentum in the single match betting markets. I’ll be betting her to win Doha.
The #2 seed this week is one of my favorite players to back, Barbora Krejcikova. Unfortunately, the market has caught up a bit with a price of 12 to 1 and her draw is messy. She starts with a bye followed by an easy win, but the rest of the way is Ansimova/Ostapenko, Muguruza, Kvitova/Kontaveit, and then the final. Krejcikova is another add to my list of players to watch, but the number isn’t close to what I’d need to bet on her to win the tournament now.
Quarter 1 – Sabalenka over Swiatek
Quarter 2 – Pegula over Halep
Quarter 3 – Kvitova over Jabeur
Quarter 4 – Anisimova over Muguruza
Final – Kvitova over Sabalenka
RECAP OF WAGERS
0.5U – Pegula 20 to 1 or better
0.5U – Kvitova 25 to 1 or better
0.5U – Anisimova 30 to 1 or better
Over 18s Only (21+ in some jurisdictions). 1 unit = 1% of bankroll. These are my bets that I am making. Please enjoy your betting responsibly. Never bet more than you can afford to lose, and do not chase a loss.
GLOSSARY OF DATA HEADINGS
Avg Rk – This is the average rank of opponent’s faced over that period.
Avg Spread – This is the average games more(or less) the player wins than their opponent. For example, 1.3 means that player averages 1.3 games per match more than their opponent.
Avg Total – This is the average total games in matches this player has played
Hold% – % of total games won on service
Break% – % of total games won on return