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Madrid Open: Azarenka and Nishikori are value to challenge

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Victoria Azarenka and Kei Nishikori both have the potential to end Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal's recent dominance of the Madrid Open.

Two-time Australian Open champion, and Belarus’ best sporting export, Victoria Azarenka has already knocked out one of the Williams sisters (Venus) at this year’s Madrid Open.

Dethroning Grand Slam great Venus, who admittedly is coming towards the end of a storied career, has resulted in StanJames cutting Azarenka’s odds of winning this WTA clay court event to 12/1.

Younger Williams sister Serena, a back-to-back winner in Madrid (2012 and 2013), remains a best price 7/4 favourite with that bookie ahead of defending champion Maria Sharapova (7/2).

These top ladies’ seeds are all expected to make light work of their upcoming matches. WTA number one Williams plays compatriot Sloane Stephens, and is a strong odds-on 1/10 favourite with Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Coral for victory.

Stephens (a top price 8/1 with William Hill to win) did shock Serena at the Australian Open two years ago, though, and took her fellow American to three sets once again at Indian Wells earlier this season. The same bookmaker says their latest encounter will go the distance at 5/1.

Reigning Madrid ladies’ champion Sharapova, meanwhile, dropped just three games in her only previous meeting with Colombian opponent Mariana Duque-Marino, which explains why the Russian racket star is massively odds-on at 1/16 with Sky Bet and Boylesports to beat her again. It’s 1/4 at bet365 for Sharapova to wrap it up in straight sets once more.

Azarenka, a twice beaten finalist in Madrid, faces Croatia’s Alja Tomljanovic, ranked 30 places below her by the WTA, for the first time. The Belorussian is a best price 1/7 with 888.com to make her class tell, and 2/5 at Betway to defeat her fellow Eastern European player without dropping a set.

In the men’s competition, world number one Novak Djokovic is resting up for the French Open, so misses Madrid, but this is ‘the King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal’s domain. He’s only seeded third, but has won this event three times since they started holding it outdoors and contested five of the last six finals.

Nadal is 2/1 favourite for a third straight Madrid Open crown with StanJames, but Japanese tennis ace Kei Nishikori may be the one to hand the gauntlet down to the Spaniard. He had to retire injured in last season’s final, but is tempting value at 9/2 with Betfred and BetVictor to go one better this year.

Betting tip: Kei Nishikori wins ATP Madrid Open @ 9/2 with BetVictor

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