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Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Osaka primed to cash in if top two falter

Japanese youngster can make mark in Charleston

Japanese hopeful Naomi Osaka
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WTA Charleston Open
Johanna Konta is seeded second for the Volvo Car Open in Charleston in the wake of her career-best triumph in the Miami Open.

The British number one is 7-2 with Hills to win a maiden Grand Slam in either the French Open, Wimbledon or the US Open this year.

But while Wimbledon could suit, her best chance of joining the Slam champion ranks looks to be in the US Open, for which she is 20-1.

Konta, who defeated former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-3 in the Crandon Park final, could be a popular choice in South Carolina. But until now she has been nowhere near as effective on clay as on hardcourts and taking into account possible tiredness Konta is easy to overlook.

Madison Keys is the top-ranked player in Charleston, but the American has only recently returned to competitive action after a long injury break and there could be better value elsewhere.

In-form trio Venus Williams, Wozniacki and Elena Vesnina may continue to prosper, but while 2011 Charleston champion Wozniacki and Indian Wells heroine and last year’s Volvo Car Open runner-up Vesnina are respected, 2004 Daniel Island winner Williams could be the most dangerous of the threesome after going close in Miami.

Lauren Davis has gone off the boil a little but her fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands played some excellent front-foot tennis in Key Biscayne and could be troublesome to anyone. Mattek-Sands’ problem is her proximity in the draw to Williams, though, and that may deter potential backers.

With doubts over Keys, the best bet could be Naomi Osaka. The talented Japanese youngster is resident in the USA and looks a winner in waiting. She’s superb on hardcourts but clay could suit her strengths too.

Keys and Kiki Bertens are the seeds in her quarter and she could face Wozniacki in the last four but the resurgent Dane, while enjoying deep tournament runs, is still finding one or two too good in the latter stages of events.

Recommendation
N Osaka
1pt each-way 20-1 bet365

WTA Monterrey Open
World number one Angelique Kerber tops the bill at the GNP Seguros Open in Monterrey this week and the tournament has a competitive look to it.

The German, winner of the Australian and US Opens in 2016, could obviously be the one to beat but second seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a three-time winner of the title, could give Kerber something to think about if the top seeds reach the final.

Britain’s Heather Watson returns to defend her title and, spurred on by Konta’s Miami triumph, the Guernsey native could win a match or two.

Third-seeded Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia may also threaten while it would be no surprise if Christina McHale, who is playing more positively this season, was to prove a viable title contender.

Catherine Bellis has a big future but may not have been 100 per cent when exiting early in Miami, and so with doubts over the American the draw could be made easier for Pavlyuchenkova to shine for a fourth time at a venue she loves.

Recommendation
A Pavlyuchenkova
1pt 5-1 bet365

The talented Japanese youngster is resident in the USA and looks a winner in waiting. She’s superb on hardcourts but clay could suit her strengths too
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