Elina Svitolina defends her title and is the 2/1 firm favourite this week at the Malaysian Open.
She will have to do things the hard way as all seeds will feature in the first round with no byes, and is coming off a hot run in Dubai, where she stormed to the title on Saturday.
It will be so hard for the classy, improving Ukranian to repeat her top level for a second consecutive week again in difficult climate conditions following on from a semi-final win over World number 2, Angelique Kerber who she has now beaten three times in a row I may add. Then defeated Caroline Wozniacki in the final, two players you would not want to face who make you play for every point hard.
A chance is taken on a player housed in Svitolina's half of the draw and who has been on my radar since the turn of the year.
Elise Mertens is the 7th seed and up to 80 in the World rankings from over 100 at the start of this campaign and I expect the improving 21-year-old being top 50 very soon and top 20 in the not too distant future. She does have improvement to make but is very much on the upgrade and at 16/1 with Bet365 for Each-way terms of half the odds to make the final looks the best bet in Malaysia should Svitolina be running on empty or withdraw at some stage.
Mertens is a very clean striker of the ball and the Hobart Champion prior to the Australian Open is worth keeping on the side this year.
The Bottom half features second & third seeds in Carla Suarez Navarro and French powerhouse Caroline Garcia. It is Garcia who is the second favourite at 5/1 with Spaniard Suarez Navarro at 7's. The latter is very much an early season performer despite having a slow start this year. It is this lack of form this year that moves me further in the direction the young Belgian Mertens where 16/1 looks over priced and is preferred over single figured odds of inconsistent performers right now.
A trio of Chinese players fill the middle seedlings with the back to fitness and in-form Peng Shuai leading the way at 9/1 and she is the better of Ying Ying Duan and Quang Wang at 20/1 who's best results comes in their home continent but usually against a lesser quality of field as this week.
WTA Kuala Lumpur - Elise Mertens to win Outright Each-Way @ 16/1 Bet365 or 14/1 General. (Each Way terms half odds if makes final 1-2 finish).