Sharapova and Kerber offer value in race to Aussie Open runner-up spot

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Serena Williams looks nailed-on to claim a fifth Australian Open title with Ladbrokes offering odds of 8/11 for the American top seed to triumph in Melbourne.

The Brisbane winner is difficult to oppose following a remarkable 2013 season where she scooped 11 titles, including two majors, while losing just four out of her 82 games.

Even two-time defending Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka offered little to challenge her rival when the pair met for their recent showdown, possibly suggesting that the real betting value in this year’s first major lies in searching for Williams’ potential opponent in the championship’s decider.

And given the nature of the draw, world number three Maria Sharapova is sure to attract attention with odds of 9/1 for her to follow-up her 2008 Aussie success.

A potential meeting with Jelena Jankovic in the quarters and then a semi-final against Agnieszka Radwanska, a player she’s beaten in eight of their 10 previous meetings, is on the US resident’s agenda should she initially overcome Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the first round.

The Russian’s pedigree in this tournament – as well as becoming a champion she’s contested two other finals and reached the last-four on three separate occasions – is self-evident meaning an each-way wager shouldn’t be discounted.

Meanwhile, German Angelique Kerber will aim to improve upon last year’s Australian Open performance where she made a maiden appearance in the round of 16.

A run to the final of the Sydney International will have provided a boost to the 40/1 outsider, even though defeat to Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova in the showpiece match will have come as a disappointment.

But that aside, Kerber spent the end of 2013 regularly picking up victories against fellow top 10 rivals, including Radwanska twice, with one of those wins the culmination of a tournament success in Linz.

Other hopefuls include Petra Kvitova. The sixth seed and Grand Slam winner at Wimbledon in 2011 was a semi-finalist here two years ago and is an interesting 16/1 pick for outright glory.

However, she’ll have to defeat Williams to reach the final and deliver a return on an each-way investment with Li Na, a player who leads their head-to-head battle 4-3 a potential last-eight obstacle.

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

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William Geldart

William contributed to a number of online football blogs before finally finding his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow alongside the rest of the Ladbrokes News team. Now indulging passions for football, horse racing, greyhounds, boxing and political betting. Supports Wycombe Wanderers and can be spotted at various lower league and non-league grounds across the country.