Williams’ shock exit hands Li Na golden Aussie Open chance

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Days after Martin del Potro’s shock exit from the men’s section of the Australian Open the women’s tournament served up an underdog win that trumped it quite convincingly in the upset stakes.

Overwhelming favourite for the title, Serena Williams, was priced up as a 5/6 chance to clinch a sixth Australian Open crown prior to the competition’s start, but has been unexpectedly dumped out in the fourth round by 14th seed Ana Ivanovic.

Having taken the first set 6-4, the American looked on course for a straight sets victory that has become routine during her career of late, only for the Serb to battle back to claim the next two 6-3, 6-3.

The loss has obviously had a tidal wave effect on the outright market for the event, with Victoria Azarenka, who faces Sloane Stephens in her own fourth round match, installed as the new 6/4 favourite for overall victory.

However, it is the player from Williams’ half of the draw who should attract the most money to win it all, as the American’s absence leaves a far easier passage to the final.

Li Na has been a consistent performer in Melbourne over the past four years, reaching two finals and a semi in that time, but has yet to get her hands on the trophy.

But at odds of 11/4, which makes her the second favourite for the title, she is now a very attractive betting proposition.

Assuming she comes through her quarter final match with Flavia Pennetta, which she is 2/7 to do, she’ll face Ivanovic in the semi-final, an opponent she’s beaten on each occasion she’s been faced with the Serb.

That’s just two relatively straight forward matches to negotiate before a second consecutive final appearance can be sealed.

Compare that to the assignments Azarenka must overcome, who has potential matches against Agnieszka Radwanska and Maria Sharapova ahead of her before reaching the final, and it’s clear to see that backing the Chinese 31-year-old is the way to go for this now Williams-less tournament.

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

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.