A scrappy victory over wildcard Jade Lewis in Auckland - followed by an arm injury enforced withdrawal against Naomi Osaka in the 2nd round, represents the sum a Venus Williams’ labours prior to the women’s Australian Open 2017.

It is with a heavy heart that it is recommended to bet on Ying-Ying Duan to beat Venus in their Australian Open 3rd round clash. Paddy Power currently price Duan at 12/5 (2.4/1). This seems a little generous and the Chinese crafter’s odds should shorten, before the match takes place on the 20th January 2017.

Age and previous injury catching up on Venus

Despite being the 4th oldest player to win a WTA title last year (Taiwan Open) and the fact that she is competing in her 73rd Grand Slam. The laboured nature of her tight, straight sets victory against Katerina Kozlova in the first round here, suggests that her recent arm injury is still causing her grief. That said, some crisp backhands and some ruthless punishing of her opponent's timid second serve, saw an improved display by Venus, as she saw of Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele, in straight sets earlier today.

Duan will be a different proposition for Venus

27-year-old Chinese right-hander, Ying-Ying Duan raced through the first set taking it 6-1 against Varvara Lepchenko, in her enthralling 2nd round tie today.

Before losing the second set 6-3 and, showing true grit to survive match point in the final set, eventually taking it 10-8.

Venus not battle hardened enough for a scrap this season

Admirable battling qualities were shown by Duan, in finally shaking off a ruggedly awkward Lepchenko by displaying ball striking ability akin to former world number 2 and Duan’s compatriot Li Na.

Venus, on the other hand, has not really had to fight, using guile and her still prevalent talent to see off opponents who were weak in comparison.

Venus Williams is a legend and a great ambassador for the game, but the value seeking pundit in you just has to plump for Duan in this one.

Recommended bet: €10 on Ying-Ying Duan to beat Venus Williams @ 12/5 (Paddy Power)