The odds are in Serena's favor to win the Finale. I'll put down some $$$$$ on her, and I'd wager some on Venus & mayhaps one more that may sneak thru.
By Andy Schooler
Betting Box Tipping Guide
5pts Serena Williams to win title at evens (William Hill) Proven number one with easy draw.
4pts Henin, Clijsters, Davenport first-round treble at 1.17/1 (William Hill) Three quality players can be relied upon.
2pts Farina Elia to bt Capriati at 3/1 (SportingOdds) Price too big against an out-of-sorts player.
Serena Williams has dominated the women's tennis calendar and it is hard to see past her winning the season-ending WTA Tour Championships which begin on Wednesday.
The event, sponsored this year by Home Depot, is being played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles after an unsuccessful visit to Munich last year.
An indoor hadcourt has been chosen, but that will matter little to Serena who has shown she can win on any surface after emerging triumphant on clay at the French Open, grass at Wimbledon and the hardcourts of the US Open.
After such a sensational year, it is perhaps a little surprising to see her available at even money to win four matches in LA against a field comprising all but two of the world's top 16.
That price can be put down to the American's chosen inactivity over the past month.
Her last action came in Leipzig back on September 29 - she duly lifted the trophy - and that stretched her latest winning run to 15 matches.
She has only lost four matches this season and none of those players are in her half of the draw in LA.
In fact, Serena could not have been handed a much easier path to the final, with Daniela Hantuchova looking the only serious threat.
As recently as Sunday, Hantuchova was helping Slovakia to the Fed Cup title in the Canary Islands and despite rising to number eight in the WTA rankings, the 'Bratislava Babe' is still struggling agianst the real top names in the sport. She is also playing doubles here and that could catch up with her.
The big names are all packed into the other side of the draw, including the other Williams sister, Venus.
Tennis pundits and fans have been waiting for the elder sibling to hit back in her family battle with Serena all year, but it has failed to materialise.
She has been well and truly beaten in each final of the last three Grand Slams by Serena.
Defeats against other players have been rare and that is reflected in the outright prices. Venus is a best-priced 9/4 - with the rest of field at double-figure odds.
As well as her poor recent record against Serena, Venus also has a tough route through.
Lindsay Davenport, who pushed Serena hardest of all at Flushing Meadows, is a likely last-eight oppenent with Kim Clijsters or Justine Henin possible semi-final foes.
Venus may have the beating of the Belgian pair, but a six-week spell on the sidelines could see her a little rusty.
Clijsters, who beat Venus in Hamburg this season, and Henin could benefit as both have been in good form of late.
Henin won in Linz while Clijsters picked up trophies in Luxembourg and Filderstadt, and also took a set off Serena in the final in Tokyo.
Henin may well have other things on her mind in LA - she marries just five days after Monday's final - and the lower-ranked Clijsters should be taken to win their likely quarter-final.
Clijsters won the Seat Open in Luxembourg, dropping a record low 14 games.
Admittedly, this was against a poor-quality field, but it proved her fine form.
Meanwhile, Davenport - who has reached the quarter-finals or better in every tournament she has played this year - should see off Monica Seles in the first round to set up a clash with Venus.
But despite being the only player to go even close to beating the Williamses at the US Open, she cannot be backed outright a 12/1.
Even if she beat one sister, another would probably await and she has not beaten either player in the last two seasons.
Although Venus remains the most likely player to come through this section, it is playing with fire to back anyone in this half.
And so it's back to even-money Serena.
Anyone worried about the inactivity aspect surrounding the 21-year-old should simply look back to last year.
Then Serena came into the same event having not played since the US Open and duly blitzed her way to victory.
Even money looks good value.
The better way of making money in the bottom section could be in match bets.
Clijsters looks worth backing against Henin, should they play in the last eight, when it will be hard to split the pair with the bookies.
However, it appears the layers have sussed the Davenport-Seles opener.
Davenport will look short for some at 3/10. But not only is she up against a player who has played just one tournament since the US Open due to a foot problem, she also has won the pair's last nine meetings and so Davenport should come good.
Clijsters can also be taken to see off Chanda Rubin at 1/3 in the first round.
Add in Henin (1/4) against Elena Dementieva and you have a 1.17/1 treble at Hills.
One more first-round clash looks worth an interest and that is the match between Jennifer Capriati and Silvia Farina-Elia.
It is a sad reflection on Capriati that she has not been mentioned in relation to the outright betting.
But that follows a year which has seen the former world number one well and truly overtaken by the Williamses.
Of late, the Australian Open champion has looked a shadow of her former self, with her steely resolve deserting her.
She has, at times, looked uninterested on the autumn European circuit and comes to LA having lost four of her last five matches.
Italian Farina Elia is hardly in sparkling form herself - she lost both matches in her country's Fed Cup semi-final against the Slovaks last week - but at 3/1 is way too big with SportingOdds against a player who has a poor record in this end-of-season event.
Punters should note that the action in LA gets under way at 2030GMT on Wednesday.
Preview posted at 2100GMT on 05/11/2002.