Over the next few months, Form Labs – a division of Bettorlogic – will be looking at the best of the weekend’s sporting activity.
This time, we go from Cristiano Ronaldo and his bid to join the international 100-club, to England’s revenge mission in Reykjavík and Serena Williams’ latest attempt at matching Margaret Court’s 24-time Grand Slam record in New York.
Before we get into it, let’s put some context on the situation from a betting standpoint. After some initial fears, the gambling industry didn’t take as big of a hit as was first thought during the lockdown period. That’s largely down to the fact that, in the absence of live sport, many engaged users turned to the likes of esports and virtual sports.
According to the Gambling Commission report back in June, only 2% of adults were found to have stopped gambling altogether, while 54% of engaged gamblers (those who have participated in three or more gambling activities in the last four weeks) had tried at least one other form of gambling over lockdown (18% moved to virtual sports).
While these alternatives have done their job in filling the void, the steady return to sport should see a U-turn in these figures as the live action comes thick and fast. So, without any further ado, what’s on the main menu for sporting action this weekend?
Only a few months ago the thought of international football was nothing but a pipe dream, yet it’s only the beginning of September and we have the first round of Nations League fixtures to get stuck into.
Portugal (Fri Evs) are out to defend their crown, and face a tough outfit in Croatia (10/3) first up. It’s little surprise that the goalscorer market will be the focal point here, with Cristiano Ronaldo just one shy of a century for his country.
England (Fri 3/10) kick off their campaign against the team that shocked them at Euro 2016 with a 2-1 win. Iceland (13/1) are yet to qualify for the Euro’s next year, and a lot of the liquidity in the market will be targeted at the visitors to get their revenge.
Meanwhile, Denmark (Fri 10/3) face world number one Belgium (5/6) looking to extend a phenomenal record. The Denmark team is unbeaten in just shy of four years dating back to October 2016 (W17-D17), excluding a 3-0 defeat to Slovakia when they fielded a B string side due to tensions with the FA.
This weekend also sees the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings go hammer and tongs at the Tour Championship in East Lake, Georgia for the $15m purse.
The starting scores system leaves this one hard to follow and a relatively unknown quantity. While punters may feel more comfortable betting on the lowest 72-hole score, sportsbooks will be going with the grain and providing the outright winner as well as the leader market.
This adds a significant influence in what is already a complicated sport to predict for punters. It means Dustin Johnson goes out as a 15/8 shot to win the FedEx despite finishing in a tie for last on the same course just a year ago, and Jon Rahm follows him in the market as a 3/1 chance, even though he’s two shots off the lead before a ball’s been struck.
If last year is anything to go by (Rory McIlroy finished five shots clear of Justin Thomas despite starting five behind), there could be an over-correction in the market and some value to be had further down the pecking order.
The four under bracket looks like a very interesting area for concentration. Bryson DeChambeau (22/1) is always going to be suited to a long par 70, while Daniel Berger (28/1) is never far from contention with six top-5 finishes from his last 10 events. Sung-jae Im is a different player on Bermuda grass with top 10 finishes in half of those events this year. He sits at 90/1 despite starting in 6th in that field of 30.
The second Grand Slam of the year is well and truly underway, and there’s a clear favourite in the men’s side of the draw. Around £700,000 has been matched on the men’s outright on Betfair.
Sportsbooks will be hoping that Novak Djokovic somehow picks up his first loss of 2020 somewhere along the line as he’s 8/11 after two rounds, with the others in the ‘big three’ (Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer) absent for this tournament.
Those three have won each of the last 13 Slams between them, with Djokovic picking up five so it’s hard to see any other winner. However, it means there’s some good each way value to be found on the opposite side of the draw, with Dominic Thiem (3/1 Reach Final) having reached three Grand Slam finals but yet to do so at Flushing Meadow.
Roberto Batista Agut (8/1 Reach Final), meanwhile, had a 67% win record on the surface last year and could follow the recent record of surprise finalists – Daniel Medvedev (2019), Kevin Anderson (2017), Stan Wawrinka (2016) and Kei Nishikori (2014).
There’s around a third of the liquidity on the women on Betfair as there is for the men, with Naomi Osaka as the relatively long favourite at 4/1 after two rounds. Yet with only three of the top 10 in the world remaining in the draw (only four of them took part) it really is anyone’s Slam,
We must also consider that third seed Serena Williams has failed to equal Margaret Court’s 24-time Slam record in eight attempts on her return to the tour now, while each of the last five US Open winners have won it for the first time.
Stat of the day
The Danes are W17-D17-L1 since October 2016, with their only defeat coming when they fielded a B string side amid tensions with the FA.
Form Labs delivers bespoke editorial covering a variety of sports to a number of sportsbooks. For further details contact Nick Haynes on [email protected].