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Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Stateside legend Venus to capitalise on terrain she loves

Venus Williams could still be difficult to beat in New York
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Humphries's top tip
Venus Williams 22-1
If there is any substance in expectant mum Serena Williams's audacious plan to return to compete in the Australian Open in January, then it could be last-chance saloon for her sister Venus Williams to add to her Grand Slam haul in the US Open, which starts on Monday.

Venus has twice had to give best in Slam finals this year, to Serena in Melbourne at the start of the campaign and to Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon in July.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova and British number one Johanna Konta had initially looked the likeliest candidates to make Slam breakthroughs in New York this year, but while both have obvious chances it's not as though the pair have peaked on the hardcourts in the US Open Series.

Muguruza has been the star and her victory in Cincinnati, which will have boosted her confidence no end, has propelled her to clear favouritism for New York. But while the Spaniard could take plenty of beating, Venus owes her one for her London final mauling and the American veteran will be better suited by the DecoTurf courts.

Pliskova and Konta have both played second fiddle to Muguruza of late, but it would seem reasonable to expect better from both in the coming fortnight.

This is probably Konta's best surface, but that has already been factored into her price. Ditto new world number one Pliskova, who has a chance to get nicely played into the tournament in the first quarter of the draw, but again the layers aren't giving away the big-serving Czech who found only Angelique Kerber too good in this competition last year.

Venus has had a quiet time of things since Wimbledon, but you can bet your bottom dollar she will be giving this Slam her absolute all.
Tournament organisers are likely to be kind to her by giving her decent match slots, and Venus really cannot argue with a quarter in which she appears to have only Caroline Wozniacki and Muguruza to beat.

Venus, US Open champion in 2000 and 2001, has not been at her best in New York in recent years, but her fans can take hope from her incredible effort in reaching the Melbourne final in January in the baking sun.

In July Venus was cleared of any wrongdoing in a fatal car crash in June, but her mobile phone records are reportedly still being investigated.

But her ability to focus on the job in hand could help Venus avenge her Wimbledon final loss to Muguruza and take her closer against Konta than has been the case in their recent clashes.

Simona Halep opens against Maria Sharapova, who leads their personal series 6-0, so the second-seeded Romanian will have to be on her game just to progress to the last 64.

Next best
Kaia Kanepi to win second quarter 150-1
Given that the headline recommendation is one of the finest match-players ever to grace a court, it may be wise for punters not to spread their investments too wide – that policy can quickly eat into potential profits.

Anyone keen on further long-term punting may wish to consider quarters betting, in which players need to win five matches instead of the seven win-only backers need their selection to tally (or six for each-way hopers).

Naomi Osaka can be considered at 33-1 to win the second quarter, but the Japanese youngster will have to defeat defending champion Kerber in her opener so her odds are barely mind-blowing.

Instead, have an interest on Kaia Kanepi to win the same quarter. The Estonian’s game looked in good order in qualifying, in which she dropped only one set to Louisa Chirico, and Kanepi has gone to New York fresher than most.

Recommendations
V Williams
2pts 22-1 Sky Bet
K Kanepi to win second quarter
0.5pt 150-1 Sky Bet

Venus's ability to focus on the job in hand could help her avenge her Wimbledon final loss to Muguruza and take her closer against Konta
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