Kvitova is out-of-practice Serena’s biggest Masters Cup rival

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The Masters Cup is set to get underway in Istanbul with the top eight players in the women’s game set to lock horns, though it is the all-conquering Serena Williams who heads the betting.

The reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Olympic champion is the 11/8 favourite to lift the crown, with Victoria Azarenka her nearest rival, according to Ladbrokes, at 2/1. This difference in price does not represent the gulf in their abilities, however, with the American winning 10 of the 11 clashes to date – one of tennis’ most one-sided rivalries.

Williams has won this title on two previous occasions and hasn’t featured in it since her 2009 triumph so, in effect, is making her first defence of that success.

No player has been able to hold a candle to her performance-wise since her French Open elimination, none except for Angelique Kerber, that is. The German was the last player to overcome Serena in 27 attempts since the clay court season finished.

German Kerber is her first opponent here and is a monstrously long 9/2 to repeat this feat. She warmed up for this tournament by reaching the quarter, then semi-final of her two previous tournaments. She could be at an advantage here as match practice is a luxury Williams has not afforded herself as she bids to claim the top prize of the $4.9m chest.

Reigning champion Petra Kvitova is fourth-favourite to retain the title at 13/2 and begins her campaign against Agnieszka Radwanska; an adversary who has never got the better of her in three meetings.

Her dominance is epitomised by the fact that she’s yet to drop a set on this surface against the woman who currently sits fourth in the world rankings – two places above Kvitova. Back the Czech to open her title defence with a win at 4/7.

All odds and markets accurate as publication’s time and date

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