Tuesday, 29 January 2013

WTA Pattaya

Maria Kirilenko lost in last year's Pattaya final but Makiri can go one better in 2013 in what is a tightly priced field. Rain has held over a few matches from yesterday's play, but Kirilenko was fortunate enough to complete her first round victory before rain halted play. Kirilenko, along with Sabine Lisicki and Elena Vesnina are priced up at the head of the field. Lisicki is also into the second round and Vesnina is on her way there leading Eleni Daniilidou by a set.

The original pre-tournament favourite, Ana Ivanovic, must still come through a deciding set with Ayumi Morita in which she trails 2-1. And has thus been eased out to 6/1 for the tournament. Daniela Hantuchova has been victorious in Pattaya for the past two years and will begin her tournament tomorrow against Olga Puchkova. 

Hantuchova has dropped to outside the world's top 50 and will be set for a further drop if she is unable to defend the title. Having been drawn in the top half along with Ivanovic and Lisicki it's very possible that she won't be able to do so. 

In the bottom half of the draw Kirilenko's main dangers appear to be Vesnina, Heather Watson and possibly her best friend forever and the apple of my eye - Sorana Cirstea. Kirilenko has never lost to Vesnina in three meetings and would be favoured in match-ups against Watson and Cirstea. 

The Overrule advises a two point selection on Makiri in the outright market and should she reach the final, we may look to revisit the situation and assess if we are in a position to hedge the selection if we wish to do so. 

2* Maria Kirilenko win Pattaya @ 9/2 (Coral)

Monday, 28 January 2013

WTA Paris

The Australian Open may be over but our season is just getting started. We spent the opening few weeks of the year assessing the action on both tours and after a successful period in Melbourne, we're now ready to get stuck into the action and grind of what will be a very long and hopefully productive season.

The field for Paris has been affected by its close proximity to the Australian Open with defending champion Angelique Kerber choosing not to enter to retain her title. Maria Sharapova - beaten by Kerber in 2012 - will also not be in Paris. The tournament has benefited somewhat from the early Australian Open exit of Petra Kvitova by granting her a wildcard into the event. Kvitova won this tournament in 2011 and will be desperate to find some form on her favourite territory - indoors.

The draw is bottom heavy with many of the likely contenders for the title being drawn in the same half. In the top half of the draw The Overrule sees some value in Sofia Arvidsson at 50/1. The Swede will have to get through Alize Cornet in first round action where she is favoured to do so, and then likely meetings with Lucie Safarova and Dominika Cibulkova before a prospective semi-final.

While that path will certainly be a test for Arvidsson, 50/1 on her to win the title and 25/1 to make the final is far too big a price on her to do so. We'll place 0.5 points each-way on her for the event. That's 0.5 point on her at 50/1 to win the event and 0.5 point on her to reach the final at 25/1.

0.5* Sofia Arvidsson win Paris (each-way) @ 50/1 (Victor Chandler) (each-way terms 1/2 odds 1-2 places)

In the bottom half of the draw there are a number of players who will believe they have a realistic shot at the title. Besides Kvitova, there is Marion Bartoli, Anastasia Pavlyunchenkova, Julia Goerges and Mona Barthel to name just a few. Kvitova and Bartoli have the benefit of first round byes and will likely begin their tournaments in midweek. When the initial prices came out Kvitova was universally priced at 7/2 or below, which was too short to place any faith in her given the struggles she has been encountering for a number of months.

However, Coral have taken the bold or foolish - it depends how you want to look at it - stance of not making Kvitova favourite for the tournament. Tissue pricing is based on the opinions and formulas of individuals. The Overrule would never price Kvitova in a field of this nature, on this particular court, as anything other than the favourite. Not unless she was playing in it off the back of a long term injury or any other factors that would lead you to believe she is not worthy of favouritism.

Whether Kvitova can justify the tag of favourite is another thing entirely. The facts are that she has been devoid of confidence for a prolonged period of time. A worryingly prolonged period of time. At 9/2 The Overrule is content with the price in this instance, while recognising that an earlier than expected exit for the former Wimbledon champion would not come as a massive shock.

On paper an in-form Kvitova would decimate this field indoors. Tennis isn't played on paper, but we're happy with the price on offer enough to deem it worthy of a three point selection.

3* Petra Kvitova win Paris @ 9/2 (Coral)

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Australian Open Overview

The first Grand Slam of the season is in the books and thankfully we can say that it was a successful one for The Overrule. Our list of wagers and their outcomes as set out below.

As I stated before the season began the bulk of our profit for the year would come from the outright market and that was very much the case for the Australian Open. We backed Novak Djokovic at 11/10 to begin the men's tournament and apart from his outstanding match with Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round, Djokovic was largely comfortable throughout the two weeks. At a set down and three break points down in the final against Andy Murray, it was possible a third successive title in Australia might elude him. After recovering that situation and taking the second set, Novak was the dominant player during the third and fourth sets and eased to victory.

The women's event was where we had our greatest successes of the tournament. We backed Li Na at 22/1 each-way at the outset and Li reached the final without dropping a set. Including a demolition of Maria Sharapova in the last four. Li provided us with ten points profit by virtue of ending up as runner-up, and world number one Victoria Azarenka tacked on another seven points profit for us by winning the event at an inflated price of 7/5 before the semi-finals.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will no doubt be fully aware what I think of the controversy that the media created for Azarenka, so I won't delve into it on The Overrule too much. I'm sure you're sick of me referring to it on Twitter, as it is. That being said, it was the most disgusting thing I've witnessed in Grand Slam tennis since Martina Hingis was used as a lamb to the slaughter by the French Open crowd in her final against Steffi Graf. My opinion of various tennis journalists couldn't be lower and I would implore you to hold them to higher standards than they appear to set for themselves.

A privilege of having a large readership requires a responsibility for the things a person writes in my view. The players that some reporters so flippantly speak about are human beings, too. Human beings with feelings and emotions and they need not be cast in the same light as criminals for choosing to make on court decisions that are entirely within the rules of the sport. The women's final was tainted by the crowd and the media outlets that inflamed that crowd in the build-up. It has permanently damaged my previously appreciative image of the Australian Open. I'll get over it, but hopefully some lessons were learned by various writers and some self-examination is brought about.

Unfortunately, not for a second do I believe anything will be taken on board, and that the media fascination of bullying high-profile individuals with no thought or mind to the consequences will continue. One can hope, though. If hoping in vain.

This has been a successful start to the season, but there is a long road to travel and we will no doubt experience many bumpy periods on the way. So let's briefly enjoy the success, but tonight we've got to get our heads stuck into the WTA events in Paris and Pattaya for the coming week. The Overrule will have write-ups and selections for both events as the week progresses - stay tuned!

Australian Open performance - Stake: 60.00 Profit/Loss: +23.71 ROI: 39.52%

Season performance - Stake: 61.00 Profit/Loss: +22.71 ROI: 37.23%

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Australian Open - Men's Semi-Finals

And then there were four. Most people would have predicted the last four men standing in Melbourne would be the top four seeds Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and David Ferrer. So here we are. Let's take a look at the respective match-ups and try to take advantage of a selection in each encounter.

Djokovic was The Overrule's outright selection before the tournament began at 11/10 and the world number one is now into as short as 4/5. Through the first few rounds Djokovic sailed through until he came up against Stanislas Wawrinka who produced the performance of his career. That match is already a strong contender for match of the year and it will take something truly special to surpass it. Despite Wawrinka's immense performance, Djokovic was still standing in Melbourne, if barely.

The important aspect for me in the aftermath of such a match was how Djokovic would recover, it's something he has managed to become very good at it over the past few years, but he wasn't willing to give away any of his methods or routines in the post-match press conferences. He followed up that five set marathon with a four set win over Tomas Berdych and came out of the blocks fast.

Ferrer can count himself very lucky to be in the last four after being comprehensively outplayed by Nicolas Almagro in the last eight. While Ferrer is always deserving of praise for his ability and willingness to battle for every point in a relentless manner, it's the inner demons that Almagro was fighting off the back of his 0-12 record with Ferrer that stopped him seeing off his Spanish compatriot. Almagro served for the match three times and yet, surprisingly, never held a match point. The first time Almagro served for the match he hadn't been broken all game - we know how the rest of the story unfolded.

Djokovic and Ferrer have met on four occasions in hard court Grand Slams and each time Djokovic has emerged victorious for the loss of only one set. That one set loss occurred at last year's US Open where Djokovic was completely unable to handle the intensely windy conditions and was fortunate to get the chance to come back the next day to recover the situation.

It's hard to see how Ferrer will be able to hurt Djokovic - despite the fact he has beaten him five times over his career - it's a different ball game when it's at Grand Slam level and players are tuned in to the maximum.

The price on a straight sets Djokovic win appeals to me at 5/6 and we'll be placing three points on that selection.

3* Novak Djokovic beat David Ferrer 3-0 @ 5/6 (Boylesports)

After not facing each other at all in 2011, Murray and Federer battled five times last season and this is likely to be the first of a number of more battles during the 2013 season. Murray has a 10-9 lifetime edge over Federer with Federer winning their last meeting at the World Tour Finals in London at the end of last season.

Murray has achieved much success in recent times but one thing he has never done is defeat Federer in a Grand Slam - that will need to change if he wants to leave Melbourne with his second Grand Slam. The Scot has beaten Federer over five sets in winning Olympic gold in London, but it must also be said Federer came in to that gold medal match having played a physically and mentally draining semi-final with Juan Martin del Potro.

Federer made a mockery of what some described as a brutal draw in Melbourne by dispatching his first four opponents in straight sets. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was always likely to prove his first real test and so it proved, as the two played out a five set encounter to determine the last spot in the final four. Murray's passage has been routine to say the least. He has defeated his opponents efficiently and done his best to spend as little time on court as possible ahead of this expected meeting with Federer.

There are a number of ways you can look at their passage to the semi-finals, you can say Federer is battle tested or that he is at a disadvantage coming in off the back of a five setter. And on the other hand it could be said that Murray is completely fresh or that he hasn't been tested enough and might need time to adjust and settle in to the challenge that Federer will pose.

The Overrule is of the view that Federer can more than handle the schedule that has been presented to him (his issue will be a further marathon with Murray going into a potential final with Djokovic) and that Murray should be happy coming in without having to over exert himself. And for those reasons the pricing on Federer appears inflated. I can understand an edge being given to Murray in terms of being the favourite, but not to the extent that he has been priced. Anything over 11/10 on Federer The Overrule will have considered too big, so we are more than happy to take the 11/8 with Paddy Power.

And the added bonus of taking the price on offer with Paddy Power is the concession they have been offering throughout the tournament on men's matches. Should Federer lose in five sets, our stakes will be refunded (up to £100) to us on the pre-match market. The Overrule advises a three point selection on Federer at 11/8.

3* Roger Federer beat Andy Murray @ 11/8 (Paddy Power) (*stakes refunded up to £100 if Federer loses in five sets)


The shock exit of Serena Williams from this year's Australian Open in the quarter-final stage has opened things up for The Overrule since we backed Li Na at 22/1 each-way at the outset. The current outright odds are not correct in my view, which presents us with an opportunity to cover defending champion and world number one Victoria Azarenka.

Maria Sharapova is listed as an EVS favourite to win the tournament, while Azarenka is as big as 7/5. That does not add up. Although Sharapova has undoubtedly been the form player of the tournament and crushing her opponents in the process, let's assess what she needs to do at the odds she is listed to do them. Maria must get through her toughest challenge to date in Li Na in the last four tonight. Sharapova leads the H2H 8-4 which has gone in stages; 5 Sharapova wins between 2005-2009, 4 Li wins between 2009-2011 and 3 Sharapova wins last year. 2 of those 3 wins were convincing hard court victories for Maria, while the Rome final on clay was a match Li let slip through her fingers after building up a commanding lead.

Li was always the player The Overrule believed would trouble Sharapova the most in the bottom half of the draw and we'll see how that challenge plays out tonight. Despite the career win for Sloane Stephens against what has to be said, was an ailing Serena, the chances of her backing that up against Azarenka are slim.

Azarenka has been formidable over the past 12 months against opposition that wasn't Serena - going 71-4 over that span in completed matches. Her only losses to Marion Bartoli (Miami), Dominika Cibulkova (French Open) and twice to Sharapova (Stuttgart & Istanbul). On current form The Overrule would assess Sharapova as a marginal favourite against Azarenka, although history clearly dictates that Azarenka has a stranglehold over Sharapova (6-1 Azarenka in their past 7 meetings on hard dating back to Stanford final in 2010).

For those reasons 7/5 on Azarenka to lift the title is massively overpriced in The Overrule's opinion, particularly given the fact Vika has the far more straight forward semi-final on paper. That's not to say Stephens cannot spring another upset, she must be respected, but this is exactly the type of match Azarenka has gobbled up since ascending to the top of the women's game.

The Azarenka price stands alone as a value price, when you add the fact that we already have Li running at 22/1 for the tournament and 11/1 on her to reach the final, it becomes even more valuable. If the favourites come through their semi-finals we will be riding a 7/5 shot against Sharapova in the final - which is over priced.

The Overrule is going to place a 5 point selection (our max available) on Azarenka at 7/5. Bear in mind, The Overrule is advising a 5 point selection on the basis you already followed our 22/1 each-way selection on Li. If you did not take Li, the Azarenka price still offers value and is a worthy selection more in the 3 point range. We can afford to go in on Azarenka at 5 points because of the flexibility Li gives us at 22/1 to take full advantage of the overpricing on Azarenka. We are effectively laying Sharapova to win the tournament and ruling out Stephens's chances of doing so, although we would still profit from a Stephens triumph if it's Li she beats in the final.

Here's a breakdown of how the various permutations will result for us profit/loss on the outright market based on a 1 point each-way selection on Li at 22/1 and a 5 point selection on Azarenka at 7/5.

-Li beats Azarenka +28
-Li beats Stephens +28
-Azarenka beats Li +17
-Azarenka beats Sharapova +5
-Stephens beats Li +5
-Sharapova beats Azarenka -7
-Sharapova beats Stephens -7
-Stephens beats Sharapova -7

5* Victoria Azarenka win Australian Open @ 7/5 (Victor Chandler)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Australian Open - Quarter-Finals

The business end of the first Grand Slam of the season is now upon us as things heat up in both the men's and women's draws. The Overrule has identified a couple of handicap selections that could present us with some profit as the last eight gets underway.

David Ferrer's head to head dominance over Nicolas Almagro is something I've never been able to fully understand. It is so incredibly lop-sided as to be laughable. 12-0. Think about that for a second. That's the kind of head to head you expect to see from Roger Federer or Serena Williams over opposition that are just in leagues below their standard. 12-0. Ferrer has catapulted himself at the head of the chase for those trying to break the stranglehold of the top four players in men's tennis, but even that isn't viable enough to justify such a commanding superiority over his Spanish counterpart.

Almagro is a top 10 player who has improved his hard court game over recent years, although still finding the bulk of his success on clay, as you would expect. Ferrer has made greater strides away from clay than Almagro, but that's not to say that even though Ferrer is likely to go 13-0 in this match-up, that Almagro can't or won't make it a real battle.

They have met twice on indoor hard since 2009, but haven't met outdoors on hard since two meetings in 2006. Of their four meetings in 2012 - three of which were on clay - only one was uncompetitive, in Bastad, where Almagro was struggling with a shoulder problem. Nico had a number of match points in Madrid but was eventually beaten again in a third set tie-break. Almagro can make a mockery of his lack of success against Ferrer by giving him an almighty test in Melbourne and he really has nothing to lose based on the history. The Overrule believes he can keep it within the +6.5 games handicap.

2* Nicolas Almagro (+6.5) beat David Ferrer @ 11/10 (Paddy Power)

Maria Sharapova has been in scintillating form during the first week of the Australian Open, but she should finally encounter someone who can make her sweat in the form of Ekaterina Makarova in the quarter-finals. Makarova is a player I've always believed was underrated and although that is partly her fault by not being consistent enough over the years - it doesn't make it any less true. She has a huge amount of talent and when in full flow is a great player to watch.

Makarova took out Serena Williams in Melbourne last year only to fall to Sharapova 6-2 6-3. I felt the same way last year as I do this year, in that I expected Makarova to give Sharapova more of a battle. It didn't materialise in 2012, but Makarova's form is good enough to believe she can make good on that this year. A good start will be essential and it will be interesting to see how Sharapova reacts if Makarova can keep it tight in the early going. Maria hasn't faced any adversity in her draw thus far, whereas Ekaterina is fully battle tested. If she has any advantage going in at all, it is that aspect. As with Almagro, The Overrule believes Makarova can keep the score within the +6.5 games handicap.

2* Ekaterina Makarova (+6.5) beat Maria Sharapova @ 4/5 (Paddy Power)

Saturday, 19 January 2013

A Step Ahead: French Open

The above picture is that of Svetlana Kuznetsova jumping for joy after her 2009 French Open success. The chances of her repeating such a success in 2013 aren't likely, but certainly alot more likely than the 150/1 on her to do so. The Overrule is of the belief that Kuznetsova is arguably the most talented player of her generation. She hasn't been the most successful, but when 'Sveta' is playing well, she's a pure joy to watch.

Many say Kuznetsova has underachieved, but there are even more players out there who had the talent to win a Grand Slam, but never did. Let alone to have won two of them. Aside from winning Roland Garros in 2009, the Russian has been a runner-up to Justine Henin in 2006, as well as reaching one semi-final, two quarter-finals and a number of fourth round appearances.

While her best days are behind her, this week in Melbourne has shown she still has something left in the tank and if she can stay healthy, she can provide us with huge value with this selection. If 'Sveta' can remain largely injury-free between now and May, I would fully expect her price to fall considerably. Laying out 0.5 points each-way, for a total outlay of 1 point, is more than worth it at this stage. The potential upside far outweighs the downside and could provide us with an opportunity to hedge during the French Open itself.

0.5* Svetlana Kuznetsova win French Open (each-way) @ 150/1 (Victor Chandler) (each-way terms 1/2 odds 1-2 places)

Australian Open - Fourth Round

Jeremy Chardy played five sets of the best tennis I've ever seen from him to take out former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro. Chardy came out swinging from the first ball and often took the initiative in the match. When it looked like his challenge might come to an end, he produced some outstanding tennis to save break points in the 5th set and took his opportunity when it came not long after.

However, with all of that being said, Chardy wouldn't have been a favourite against Andreas Seppi before the draw was made, so we need not overreact off the back of a big win. At 10/11 Seppi is overpriced and can drag Chardy back down to earth. Both needed five sets in the third round, so neither has an advantage in that sense. I wouldn't be shocked if this went five sets, too.

2* Andreas Seppi beat Jeremy Chardy @ 10/11 (Paddy Power)

After a long injury lay-off Svetlana Kuznetsova is on the verge of reaching the second week of a Grand Slam if she can successfully see off the challenge of Caroline Wozniacki. The match-up suits 'Sveta' well for the most part, as Wozniacki will allow her to dictate proceedings. Wozniacki's form has picked up since she allowed Sabine Lisicki to implode against her from a winning position.

Despite that upturn in form, Wozniacki was pushed around by Lesia Tsurenko too many times to ignore what Kuznetsova could do to her. The price is very appealing and has the makings of in-play trading material. I would be very surprised if Kuznetsova isn't odds-on at some point of this match. The big question is whether she will see it out to completion. They have met twice at the US Open in matches Kuznetsova should have won, but ultimately didn't. Expect another topsy-turvy affair when they meet in the fourth round.

2* Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Caroline Wozniacki @ 6/5 (Stan James)

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Australian Open - Third Round (II)

Paddy Power have gained a reputation over the years as being customer friendly with all kinds of concession and money-back offers. It appears that for the Australian Open they are intent on offering substantial value on set betting markets, too. The Overrule backed Roger Federer to see off Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets and we have no choice but to advise the same again for his third round match with Bernard Tomic.

As it happens, I believe Tomic has a good chance of taking this to four sets, but the value on offer is for a straight sets victory and we'd be fools to pass it up. Federer loves challenges like this from young up-starts. I've always got the feeling he enjoys moments like this to send a reminder to those on their way up that they are a long way from home. Tomic may well be at home in Australia, but Rod Laver Arena is one of Federer's many homes that Tomic may never hold the keys to.

Take this price quickly, because it surely won't last.

2* Roger Federer beat Bernard Tomic 3-0 @ 10/11 (Paddy Power)

Yes, it's an exactly replica of the second round with straight set picks advised on Federer and Juan Martin del Potro. While the opportunity is there to take inflated prices at outcomes highly likely to occur, we'll gladly take them. Del Potro has looked on the ball from the get-go in Melbourne. His opposition has been nothing substantial but the Argentine is putting them away in a manner which suggests his almost inevitable last eight clash with Andy Murray is going to be as good as advertised.

We've backed del Potro at 11/2 in his quarter, we profited from him in the last round and we'll expect to do so against Jeremy Chardy. The Frenchman has the ability to stick with del Potro but he's also very capable of throwing in a sloppy service game that undoes his good work. Del Potro is serving very well and Chardy will have to just to stick with him.

As with Federer's price, this one is sure to drop soon, too. So don't waste time.

2* Juan Martin del Potro beat Jeremy Chardy 3-0 @ 8/15 (Paddy Power)

I'm not a fan of Milos Raonic, I find his game like much of the ATP, it just doesn't do it for me on a daily basis. Those that know me or have interacted with me know full well that my tennis allegiance lies fully with the WTA. For many, many reasons that I may eventually go into in detail on The Overrule at some point during the season. And, no, it's not just because of Sorana Cirstea.

People expect alot of Raonic and he hasn't yet delivered. There is a rawness to his game and mentality that I haven't seen any progression or improvements on, and thus he remains largely overrated at this point. His serve is clearly an outstanding weapon. However, his returns can be comical on a given day.

That being said his price of 8/11 to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round looks big to me, as I'd have priced him at 4/7 or even 8/13. 4/5 is available, but with a one-set book, so we'll avoid that, but if you want to take that risk for the bigger price the decision is entirely yours. It depends on how big you plan your stake to be to deem it worthwhile for you or not. We'll be placing three points on Raonic, but we want the fail safe in the event of a retirement, so 8/11 is good with us.

3* Milos Raonic beat Philipp Kohlschreiber @ 8/11 (Bet 365)

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Australian Open - Third Round (I)

Li Na was our outright each-way selection in the women's event and the former French Open champion can dispatch what has always been an erratic Sorana Cirstea. As some of you will know, Sorana is a particular favourite of mine, not necessarily due to her tennis, and we have no qualms about opposing her here. It wouldn't have surprised me had Cirstea lost before the third round, in fact it's a pleasant surprise she didn't.

However, Li has bigger things on the horizon and she can gain a measure of revenge for her Wimbledon exit at the hands of the Romanian. On a good day this is a match Cirstea can and has won, but the level of her tennis hasn't been of a standard during this early stage of the season where she can be expected to produce the level required. Li has looked, for the most part, solid and commanding this season and a straight sets win is more than likely in this match-up. I expect Cirstea to be under the gun early from a barrage of attacks and the match to quickly get away from her.

This match should be on a televised court and while we'll hate to see Sorana go, we'll love to watch her leave.

3* Li Na beat Sorana Cirstea 2-0 @ 2/5 (Paddy Power)

Julia Goerges can be added to the list of players The Overrule is looking to oppose this season. I was a fan of Goerges in the earlier part of her career, before she made a big splash by winning Stuttgart. However, it's been evident since then how overrated and over valued she has become in tennis and betting circles. Goerges attracts much hype more for what she appears to be, rather than what she actually brings to court. Julia has a good serve much of the time, but the rest of her game is incredibly inconsistent and she can often look like a player barely good enough to remain top 40.

She's notoriously a player not worthy of trust as a favourite, particularly a short-priced favourite, and plenty of money can and has been made by opposing her at short prices. On this occasion she isn't such a hot favourite, but we are still more than happy to take the price on offer for a Zheng Jie win. Zheng is coming off an impressive comeback against home favourite Sam Stosur, while Goerges defeated Romina Oprandi who was quite awful.

Zheng is worth a couple of points in this match and is far more likely to stick it out if the going gets tough. Goerges will either play really well or really badly, there is not much in between with her, and her good days aren't as frequent as many would like to believe.

2* Zheng Jie beat Julia Goerges @ 13/10 (Victor Chandler)

Another player The Overrule is looking to oppose and has already in this tournament is Jerzy Janowicz. By now you'll all know the Janowicz story and although he has ability, he clearly continues to be over valued. We opposed him against Simone Bolelli, but after a poor start, the Pole was able to come through in straight sets. His task was alot tougher in the second round against Somdev Devvarman and he overcame a two set deficit to reach this stage. Along the way he completely lost his cool with the umpire and almost blew a commanding fifth set lead. The match was eventful to say the least.

Nicolas Almagro is unlikely to let Janowicz off the hook in the way Devvarman did and the Spaniard is well versed in tough matches that need to be dug out. That lengthy second round battle may also come into play for Janowicz as another match in the heat is more than likely. Almagro is the better and fresher player and at 1/2 that is quite an appealing price for him to move on to the fourth round.

3* Nicolas Almagro beat Jerzy Janowicz @ 1/2 (Victor Chandler)

Australian Open - Second Round (II)

Juan Martin del Potro wasted little time in first round action seeing off Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 and he can follow that up with another straight sets win against Benjamin Becker in the second round. Becker ended Andre Agassi's career at the US Open in 2006, but he should have no such luck against the Argentine tomorrow. Del Potro's fearsome forehand was in devastating display against Mannarino and there will be little Becker can do if the former US Open champion is in a similar vein of form. This selection represents near maximum value to The Overrule and we shall be placing a four point selection on it.

4* Juan Martin del Potro beat Benjamin Becker 3-0 @ 8/15 (Paddy Power)

Much was made of Roger Federer's early round draw in Melbourne, but I fully expect Federer to make a mockery of such exaggeration by seeing off Nikolay Davydenko in the same way he saw off Benoit Paire in the first round. Davydenko offers a stiffer test than Paire and comes in off some of his best form in a long while after he reached the final of Doha, where he dispatched David Ferrer along the way. However, even when Davydenko was at his peak amongst the world's top 5, Federer was consistently and routinely beating him, as their 17-2 head to head suggests.

Federer fully understands the importance of conserving energy in the first week of a Grand Slam and I would anticipate him to be on the ball early to quell any challenge that Davydenko might represent. As with the del Potro selection, this price offers great value, but we shall respect the capability of Davydenko to produce some very good tennis by making this a two point selection.

2* Roger Federer beat Nikolay Davydenko 3-0 @ 8/13 (Paddy Power)

Varvara Lepchenko had a career year in 2012 and she appears overpriced to defeat Elena Vesnina in the second round of the women's event. Vesnina has got off to a great start in 2013, winning her first ever singles title in Hobart, beating the likes of Yaroslava Shvedova, Sloane Stephens and Mona Barthel in the process. However, despite an underwhelming beginning to her 2013 season, I fail to see why Lepchenko should be priced at 2/1 to progress to the third round.

History between the two is minimal, Vesnina won an encounter in Budapest last year by virtue of retirement, and their only previous meeting to that was in 2005 which Lepchenko won, but bears little or no relevance to the present day. This selection, much like the one on Sabine Lisicki to defeat Caroline Wozniacki in the first round has the makings of in-play trading material.

1* Varvara Lepchenko beat Elena Vesnina @ 2/1 (Victor Chandler)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Australian Open - Second Round (I)

Fernando Verdasco is a player The Overrule is looking to oppose this year and his match-up with Xavier Malisse in the second round of the Australian Open presents an opportunity to do so. David Goffin was a popular pick to take down Verdasco in the first round, but the Spaniard saw him off in five sets. Malisse took Verdasco out at Wimbledon last year and he can make life very difficult for his lefty opponent again.

Originally I wasn't happy with Malisse's starting price (EVS), but the market has caused him to drift out to a price that is more in the range I was hoping for to begin with.

1* Xavier Malisse beat Fernando Verdasco @ 11/8 (Victor Chandler)

Maria Sharapova wasted no time at all in first round action against Olga Puchkova delivering a double bagel to her Russian counterpart in less than an hour. The self-proclaimed "sugarmama" can serve up some more baked goods for her second round opponent Misaki Doi. Handicaps and under total games has been a consistent bread winner in recent years in early round action of Grand Slams on neutral surfaces in the women's game. This has been the case, particularly, at the US Open, but also prevalent at the Australian Open at times. 

The top women often have far too heavy an arsenal for early round opponents to cope with, given the respective match-ups, and the likes of Sharapova, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka rarely look to waste time or energy by being kept on court any longer than needs be while they can help it. 

The best way to take advantage has usually been on alternative handicaps and alternative game lines in-running, but opportunities also present themselves pre-match, and that is what we have here on the handicap. I wouldn't put anyone off dutching a 6-0 first set at 7/1 with a 6-1 first set at 7/2 either, but we'll give ourselves more leeway at the shorter price of EVS for Sharapova to cover a -7.5 games start. 

 3* Maria Sharapova (-7.5) games beat Misaki Doi @ EVS (Paddy Power)

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Weekly Overview (1)

Each week on The Overrule or every two weeks where it concerns Grand Slams, we'll overview our performance of the past week or two to see how we are tallying up. This past week we had one outright each-way selection on Maria Kirilenko in Sydney.

Kirilenko lost in the second round to Sara Errani, in fact it wasn't so much a loss as a complete beatdown. Errani was her usual consistent self and Kirilenko was anything but, spraying errors all over the place on a game by game basis. At 50/1 Kirilenko was unable to make the kind of headway into the draw that we would like and instead it was Dominika Cibulkova who took advantage of the bottom half of the draw to reach the final at a starting price of 40/1.

Weekly performance - Stake 1.0 Profit/Loss -1.00 ROI -100%

Season performance - Stake 1.0 Profit/Loss -1.00 ROI -100%

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Australian Open - First Round

First round action begins in Melbourne in just over 24 hours and The Overrule has three selections for each day of first round play. As explained before the season began, unless there is a significant price variance The Overrule will only use void books on match betting selections. The season is still very young and thus you won't see a huge outlay on points selections per match as there are still unknowns this early in the year.

Roberto Bautista-Agut reached the final in Chennai but Fabio Fognini can end his Australian Open in the first round at 4/5. The melodramatic Italian beat the Spaniard late last season in Moscow and he can squeeze out another victory in Melbourne.

2* Fabio Fognini beat Roberto Bautista-Agut @ 4/5 (Boylesports)

Jerzy Janowicz is a player The Overrule has been looking to oppose ever since his glorious run in Paris at the tail end of last season. To say Janowicz is being overvalued would be an understatement and in what is likely to be a lengthy encounter with Simone Bolelli, we're quite happy to place one point on the Italian at 15/8.

1* Simone Bolelli beat Jerzy Janowicz @ 15/8 (Stan James)

Kristyna Pliskova is a player The Overrule believes can reach the top 30 of the women's game in due time and providing she can utilise her serve to good effect, the 20 year old Czech can deliver on the 8/13 on offer for her to beat Sacha Jones.

2* Kristyna Pliskova beat Sacha Jones @ 8/13 (Paddy Power)

The remaining matches will take place on the second day of action at the Australian Open.

Yaroslava Shvedova can use her serve and experience to see off promising German teenager Annika Beck. This has the makings of being a very watchable match, but one that will likely end with Shvedova progressing to the next round. 

2* Yaroslava Shvedova beat Annika Beck @ 4/7 (Victor Chandler)

Sabine Lisicki looks a huge price to take out former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in arguably the marquee first round match-up in the women's draw. Lisicki leads the head to head 2-1 and on early season form there is no justification for the Dane to be priced up so short. This selection has the makings of in-play trading material for those of you who may want to lock in a profit at the earliest opportunity. 

1* Sabine Lisicki beat Caroline Wozniacki @ 2/1 (Boylesports)

Urszula Radwanska attempts to complete the Radwanska double over Jamie Hampton, who lost to Urszula's more decorated sister - Agnieszka - in the semi-finals of Auckland a week ago. The price on Urszula is inflated in my eyes, who I would have priced at 5/4. This is another match that has the makings of in-play material. 

1* Urszula Radwanska beat Jamie Hampton @ 7/4 (Bet 365)

Friday, 11 January 2013

Australian Open - Women

Opportunity knocks for someone in the bottom half of the women's draw as overwhelming favourite Serena Williams (19/20) and defending champion and world number one Victoria Azarenka (5/1) were drawn in the top half. Maria Sharapova (11/1), Angelique Kerber (33/1), Agnieszka Radwanska (20/1) and Li Na (22/1) are the players most likely to take advantage and its with the latter that we'll be placing our faith with in the draw. 

Li Na is a former finalist at the Australian Open and has already secured her first title of the season in Shenzhen. She followed that up with a defeat to eventual Sydney champion Radwanska, and the two may well meet again in the last eight. Li Na is no stranger to Grand Slam success, having become the first Chinese player to lift a major at the 2011 French Open. Her performances in Melbourne have been consistent over the past three years - never failing to reach at least the last eight. 

It's hard to look past Serena as ultimately lifting the title, but her price has dipped below what The Overrule would have liked, and so we will give her price a pass. Instead the 22/1 on Li Na represents a healthy price with a very realistic chance of providing us with an 11/1 return should she reach the final. We'll back Li Na with one point each-way (two points outlay in total) and possibly look to lay some of that off should she reach the last four. 

For those of you unfamiliar with each-way selections, what we are backing is one point on Li Na to win the tournament at 22/1 and one point on Li Na to reach the final at 11/1.

1* Li Na win Australian Open (each-way) @ 22/1 (Sportingbet) (each-way terms 1/2 odds 1-2 places)

Australian Open - Men

The Australian Open draw couldn't have worked out better for defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic (11/10) had he hand picked it himself. While Djokovic takes his place at the top of the draw, Roger Federer (11/2), Andy Murray (33/10) and Juan Martin del Potro (22/1) reside in the bottom half, leaving Djokovic with the comparatively routine task of negotiating his way to the final.

Djokovic begins his defence against Paul-Henri Mathieu and is liable to run into Ryan Harrison, Radek Stepanek and Stanislas Wawrinka before the business end of the tournament commences in the second week. Tomas Berdych (66/1) is seeded to meet Djokovic in the last eight and although the Czech has won a number of big matches in his career, he has struggled mightily to record success against the Serbian. Djokovic leads their head to head 11-1 and holds an emphatic 10-0 (8-0 outdoor, 2-0 indoor) record on hard court against Berdych.

A semi-final match-up with David Ferrer (35/1) will provide Djokovic with his biggest test of the tournament up to that point, but Ferrer will have to overcome the psychological hurdle of an 0-4 record against Djokovic in hard court Grand Slams. It will be a major shock if Djokovic isn't playing on the last Sunday of the tournament with the chance to defend his crown, and we'll be backing him to do just that with a three point selection.

3* Novak Djokovic win Australian Open @ 11/10 (William Hill)

In the third quarter of the draw del Potro appears too big at 11/2 to reach the semi-final. Murray (2/5) is naturally the favourite to come through that section and the chances are high that the two will meet in the last eight for a right to earn a spot in the final four. Historically Murray has been a bad match-up for del Potro and that may well prove to be the case again in Melbourne, but the 5-1 head to head Murray holds isn't as convincing as it first appears. One Murray win was by virtue of retirement, three of the others came in deciding sets over best-of-three and their only meeting at a Grand Slam - the 2008 US Open - was a titanic battle that went four sets and could quite easily have gone the distance.

Del Potro is worth a one point selection at what The Overrule believes to be an inflated price.

1* Juan Martin del Potro win third quarter Australian Open @ 11/2 (Victor Chandler)

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Happy New Makiri

WTA Sydney main draw action begins tonight and Maria Kirilenko is massively overpriced to start her 2013 season in strong fashion. Ordinarily I believe the first couple of weeks of the season are to focus on observing which players have made improvements in their game, who is looking confident and who is struggling to get their season off on the right foot.

However, Kirilenko's price looks inflated to me and worth an each-way selection. Sydney has attracted a good draw with the Australian Open following on immediately afterwards. Agnieszka Radwanska and Na Li both take their place in the top half of the draw after picking up first week titles in Auckland and Shenzhen respectively. The draw features 7 of the world's top 10 and in situations like this, so close to the start of a Grand Slam, there is always opportunity for players on the bubble of the top 10 to pick up a title while others might have a keener eye on the following week in Melbourne.

Kirilenko appears not to have suffered from my long held "tennis love" theory, in fact Maria's form has got better and better ever since she began dating NHL star Alex Ovechkin. The couple recently announced their engagement and Kirilenko will make her first appearance of 2013 in Sydney where she has a poor record historically - never going beyond the second round in five visits.

Let's take a closer look at Kirilenko's possible path to success in Sydney, she begins her campaign with a first round encounter against Australian wildcard Olivia Rogowska. A second round match-up with Sara Errani is likely before a potential major stumbling block in Petra Kvitova followed by Angelique Kerber in order to reach the final. The path is certainly challenging but neither Errani, Kvitova or Kerber showed anything to be daunted by during their performances in Brisbane.

At 50/1 Kirilenko is overpriced and has a realistic chance of doing well, although judging how a player will start their season is never an exact science. It's impossible to gauge how rusty a player might be going into a new season and we'll only know the reality of that once the action begins for that particular player. Kirilenko has become a very hard player to beat over the past year or so, giving little away and playing a solid game with good margin. For these reasons, it is easier to feel comfortable in believing she will, at the very least, begin her season without a slew of errors in attempts to discover any degree of rhythm.

Radwanska and Kerber head the betting at 11/4 and 4/1, but we'll begin our season with a small outlay of 1 point in total on Makiri.

0.5* Maria Kirilenko to win Sydney (each-way) @ 50/1 (Paddy Power) (each-way terms 1/2 odds 1-2 places)