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Monday, 10 December, 2018

New mother Azarenka not fully fit so pick Heather

Bedene can continue his run with first win over Muller

Heather Watson shows poise in defeating Anastasija Sevastova
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Day five
BBC1, BBC2 & BBCi, from 11.30am Friday

Azarenka v Watson
British players had a day to remember at Wimbledon on Wednesday and the fun could continue on day five at the All England Club, where a repeat of the form Heather Watson showed in her second-round victory over Anastasija Sevastova could be enough to see her pass Victoria Azarenka in the last 32.

Watson was superb in defeating Sevastova, who was recently crowned champion on grass in Majorca, 6-0 6-4.

And with Azarenka having returned to competitive tennis on the holiday island, where she played just two matches, Watson has a great chance to make the most of her advantage.

New mum Azarenka has won all eight sets she has contested against Watson, is decent on grass and has returned pretty well from a break of more than a year in which she had her first child.

But there has to be a sizeable question over the Belarusian's lack of match fitness as the tournament goes on and Watson, who fought back well from an early loss of serve in her second set against Sevastova, looks in a positive enough mood to thwart Azarenka.

Anyone in any doubt about Watson's ability to win a fast-court Grand Slam should recall her 2015 Wimbledon clash with Serena Williams. The American won 6-2 4-6 7-5 but the Guernsey ace had umpteen chances to take the match.

Now more experienced and a little wiser, Watson should fear nobody in the draw, including Azarenka, who was thrashed 6-1 6-3 by Ana Konjuh in her second outing in Santa Ponsa.

Back the British number two, who came in for support yesterday after early interest in Azarenka, to win at least a set and the match, both of which look overpriced.

H Watson to win at least a set
1pt 3-4 Hills
H Watson
1pt 19-10 Betfair, Hills

Bedene v Muller
Gilles Muller is having a fine season and won his second title of the year, and his long career, on the Den Bosch grass courts last month.

On the way to lifting the Dutch trophy Muller defeated Aljaz Bedene 6-3 3-6 6-4 for his second victory over the Slovenia-born Briton in as many matches.

But in their third clash in Bedene's adopted city of London, the boot could be on the other foot.

Success obviously means Muller has been busy on court and while the Luxemburger has a game that is well suited to grass, at 34 that heavy workrate also means he may be feeling the pace.

Muller had just enough to pip qualifier Lukas Rosol 7-5 6-7 4-6 6-3 9-7 in his last singles start.

But given the fine form Bedene has been showing this season, and the fact that he's fit and has no issues with going the distance and will be able to count on the lion's share of support at the All England Club, he looks a good bet at the available odds.

Bedene did well to thwart Ivo Karlovic 6-7 7-6 6-7 7-6 8-6 in his opener and backed that up with a fine 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-3 victory over useful Damir Dzumhur in the last 64.

The world number 58 has already won three Challenger Tour titles this year, so there's nothing at all wrong with his game and he's playing some of the best tennis of his life.

Punters can consider backing Bedene at 11-10 with a start of 1.5 sets on the handicap because it will be a surprise if the match is over quickly. But the longer it goes on the more it should suit the 27-year-old so it may be worth a straightforward punt on the outsider to prevail.

A Bedene
1pt 9-4 bet365, Sky Bet

With Azarenka only having returned to tennis in Majorca, Watson has a big chance to make the most of her advantage
E.W. Terms
Sky bet