Australian Open: Struggles of WTA favourites offer hope for outsiders

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The first Slam of the 2017 season is less than a fortnight away, and it appears we could be in for an open encounter in the women’s contest.

Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber head the Australian Open betting at 9/4 and 4/1 respectively, but neither of the world’s top-two have impressed in recent days.

The American went crashing out to Madison Brengle in the second round in Auckland, while Kerber fell to Elina Svitolina in the last eight in Brisbane.

And Serena and Kerber aren’t the only ones struggling.

Simona Halep also suffered an early exit in her 2017 bow, losing in the second round in China.

Indeed each of the WTA’s top five players suffered pre-semi-final exits this week.

And the surprises haven’t stopped there.

Garbine Muguruza is fourth favourite in betting at 10s, but the reigning French Open champion has yet to show she can reach the same heights on a hard court.

And after retiring injured in the Brisbane semi-finals this week, it’s hard to be confident about the Spaniard chances Down Under.

So while the favourites aren’t exactly in scintillating form, that opens the door for some outside shots to do the business in Melbourne.

After Svitolina downed Kerber, the Ukrainian was defeated in the Brisbane semis by Karolina Pliskova, and many are tipping the Czech star to come good in 2017.

The 24-year-old reached the US Open Final in September, beating Serena en-route.

And having defeated Kerber in Cincinnati in August, there’s no reason Pliskova can’t go all the way in Australia.

At 12/1, she could prove to be an excellent punt to start the year.

Svitolina herself is, at 40/1, certainly worth considering Each-Way, while Britain’s Johanna Konta could also be a shout at 33/1, having reached the last-four in Oz 12 months ago.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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