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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Serena Williams overpriced to nail a seventh NYC crown

Former French Open heroine Ostapenko could also go well

Serena Williams could go all the way
1 of 1

Starts 4pm Monday, Amazon Prime

Humphries's top tip
Serena Williams 13-2
It's not often that Serena Williams starts a Grand Slam as 13-2 favourite, but while the former world number one's US Open preparation has been far from ideal she may just be worth a bet to nail some major glory in the year she returned from having her first child.

Williams was all over the place in the early US Open Series, while in recent days she has been handed a catsuit ban for next year's French Open and has reportedly been under the weather with a cold.

But if she can surmount those obstacles, and we know she's done that before, then she is still good enough to claim a seventh home Slam singles triumph.

She posted an encouraging effort at Roland Garros this year and stepped up on that when dismissing all bar Angelique Kerber, a player she respects, at Wimbledon.

Seeing Sloane Stephens save her best for the tournaments that matter most to her may have rubbed off a little on Serena and while her hard-court form in recent weeks can be as good as forgotten, it would actually be a surprise if she did not pick herself up for New York.

Elder sister Venus is finding it tougher to produce the goods this season having done that successfully in recent campaigns, but not so Serena.

Venus starts out with a loseable opener against Washington DC champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Serena opens with a much easier task on paper against Magda Linette.

World number one and French Open heroine Simona Halep has been awesome this season and could obviously be tough to stop, but Serena has the element of surprise on her side in the Big Apple and is preferred at the prices.

Garbine Muguruza could be a danger but the Spaniard has been struggling with focus this year and is overlooked.

Karolina Pliskova could prove to be Serena's toughest rival in the first quarter of the draw, but it may still be better to be on the side of the best female player in the sport's history.

Stephens could be troublesome should she meet Serena in the last four, but the defending champion looks plenty short enough considering she's one-fifth the price she was when triumphing last year.

Cincinnati and New Haven champions Kiki Bertens and Aryna Sabalenka have been well backed for Flushing Meadows, but it's difficult to think they may suddenly be ready to challenge for Slams.

Petra Kvitova merits more respect having not gone the distance in Connecticut, although the Czech's eighth of the draw is rammed with talented performers such as Daria Kasatkina, Naomi Osaka, Belinda Bencic and Anna Schmiedlova.

Next best
Jelena Ostapenko to win third quarter 12-1
Kerber will be expected by many to shine again in the Slams after her scintillating Wimbledon triumph, which saw her produce arguably the best tennis of her career.

She's already won both hard-court Slams in New York and Melbourne so is entitled to plenty of respect, but the German may be getting a shade short in the tougher half of the third quarter.

Fellow section seeds Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe and Dominika Cibulkova could all make life difficult for Kerber and it could pay to look for value in the top half of that section.

Jelena Ostapenko could give Kerber more trouble on a hard court than she did at Wimbledon this summer and with Caroline Garcia not always finding her best, Carla Suarez Navarro probably past her best and Maria Sharapova not looking the force of old, the Latvian has a good opportunity of going deep at Flushing Meadows this year.

The tenth seed was runner-up to Sloane Stephens in Miami in March and that tells you she's getting better and better on North American hard courts.

Recommendations
S Williams
2pts 13-2 general
J Ostapenko to win third quarter
1pt 12-1 Coral, Ladbrokes


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Garbine Muguruza could be a danger but the Spaniard has been struggling with focus this year
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