Alex Christenson’s WTA US Open Preview

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Welcome to New York City! We have your enjoyment the 4th and final grand slam tournament of the year, the US Open. For the next 2 weeks the very best the WTA has to offer compete one last time for a grand slam title and place in history. Hard court tennis is interesting in that it has 2 seasons, the early part of the year in Australia, Europe, and North America and the later part of the year in North America, Europe, and historically Asia, but not this season. If you go back and look at results from January through March and you’ll see different names than you’ve seen the past few weeks in Montreal, Cincinnati, and other events. Tennis has a long season and it impacts everyone differently. Let’s dive into the draw, pick a winner, and hopefully find some value in the betting markets.

Quarter 1

The favorite to win the US Open is Ashleigh Barty at 3.5 to 1. She’s played 6 hard court tournaments including the Olympics and won 3, Yarra Valley, Miami, and Cincinnati just last week. Barty has won 38 of the 48 sets she’s completed on hard courts this year and hasn’t lost a set since July 25th. Her first few matches shouldn’t difficult and then things pick up, but Ashleigh is likely to be the favorite in every match she plays and prohibitively until the quarterfinals. A deserving favorite in the outright markets, but at that price I can’t advise a wager. The average of her 7 match money lines would have to be a little more expensive than -400(1,25) to get to 3.5 to 1 when combined. In other words, if you want to be her to win the tournament, just bet her to win every match, continually rolling your stake and winnings over to a bet on her to win the following match. This will give you a better price and the flexibility to stop at any point should you desire.

The first difficult opponent for the Australian could be Jennifer Brady who is 28 to 1 in the outright markets. At her best she can beat anyone on hard courts, but she’s been struggling with a foot injury for a few months now. It forced her to retire at the French Open and in Cincinnati. I’m hard pressed to think she will be even 75% healthy for this tournament although the days off in between matches will help. At that price Brady would need to be in good form to back her in this position of the draw. I hope her foot gets better and we see a fantastic fourth round match, but no wagers to be placed at this point.

The only other women that I’d be interested in backing are forced to play one another in round 1. Sara Sorribes Tormo continues her run through the hard court season against Karolina Muchova. The Czech has struggled since making the semifinals of the Australian Open and retired in her last match. So at only 33 to 1, I think you’d be silly to back her. Tormo is 200 to 1 which is a big, appealing number, but she’s not yet at the level of being able to beat the players she’s likely to face in the quarterfinals and onward.

The seed at the bottom of the quarter is Iga Swiatek who is 14 to 1 and among a group of women who are the 4th to 8th favorites depending on which book you check. She has played just 3 matches on hard court since the end of the grass season and won only 1 of those. Her losses were to Paula Badosa at the Olympics and Ons Jabeur in Cincinnati which aren’t bad losses, but she does enter this event with no recent success. Iga is one of the most talented players in the women’s game and did win a title on hard courts in Adelaide this year, but I need a bigger number to bet on her snapping back into good form, beating Barty, and 2 other strong opponents over this fortnight.

Speaking of snapping back into good form, Jil Teichmann finished 2nd in Cincinnati after being only 3-8 since April with a retirement & withdrawal along the way. She Cirstea, Pera, Osaka, Bencic, and Karolina Pliskova before losing to Barty in the final losing only 3 sets combined in those matches. She has a wide range of prices to win the tournament. I’ve seen as low as 40 to 1 and as high as 100 to 1. If you happen to have access to 100+ to 1, put a small wager on it, but I can’t formally pick it here because it’s at very few places. Anything less than triple digits is too small with her draw and I’m also wary of overreacting to her recent play. I will possibly back her in the quarter markets once they open and if she continues her good play I will definitely back her in matches against the bigger names, but nothing for now.

The Olympic gold medalist, Belinda Bencic, is 25 to 1 to win her first grand slam this fortnight. She made the semifinals in 2019 when she was last here and is part of a group of women with enough talent and the mental fortitude to do make a deep run in a big event. Bencic beat a strong field in Tokyo and didn’t drop a set in Cincinnati until losing in the quarterfinals to the red hot Teichmann. Her first few matches should be comfortable wins, but from then on get tough and I expect to do better betting her match to match than having wagered on this price. Her price would have to average -165(1,61) over 7 matches to match the 25 to 1.

In that same vein, Jessica Pegula is only 45 to 1 to win the US Open and as excited as I was to bet on her, I won’t be doing that in the outright markets. Pegula is one of my favorite players to back on hard courts. She made the semifinals in Montreal and played well into the 3rd round in Cincinnati. She would face Bencic in the 3rd round, Swiatek or Teichmann, and then Barty to win this quarter. I think she can do it. I want her to do it. I’m not going to bet on it. I may bet her once the quarter the markets open and I will be on her on as an underdog in those matches. We’ll much better value that way.

Quarter 2

Karolina Pliskova is back! After a rough start to the year she finished 2nd in Rome and 2nd at Wimbledon. She also finally beat Jessica Pegula in Cincinnati after losing in there first 4 meetings this year. She is 16 to 1 and the 4th to 8th favorite group with Swiatek. Outside of Anisimova or a hot qualifier could challenge her, but she’ll be the clear favorite up to and probably in the quarterfinals. We’ll get to the quarterfinalist in a bit, but there’s not enough value in that number knowing even if she does win the quarter she has to beat Barty and finalist both of whom will be favored over her. Barty was -248(1,42) in the Wimbledon final and I would expect something along those lines in the semifinals. I’m adding her to my wait and see list.

Paula Badosa injured her shoulder in Cincinnati which makes her hard to trust, especially at only 30 to 1. She’s been profitable match to match, but has yet to make it past the semifinals of a WTA hard court tournament. Her first few matches and days off in between could give her a chance to build while she manages her rehab. Put it all together and you have another pass.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova hasn’t made it past the 2nd round of this event since 2013. Now, it’s a different year and she has played well since May. She was the runner up at Roland Garros, a semifinalist in Madrid, and a quarterfinalist at the Olympics. Her price is as high as 65 to 1 to win this tournament. Maybe that good run of play continues, but she could be an underdog as early as the 3rd round in a place she hasn’t generally played well. I’m happy to pass.

Another player who hasn’t performed at her best in New York is Petra Kvitova. She did make the quarterfinals in 2015 and 2017, but has made it past round 3 just 2 other times. Her struggles with heat and humidity because of her asthma are well known and a big part of why Petra is beatable in this event. It may have been the reason she retired in the 2nd set in Cincinnati against Kerber. Petra is as high as 40 to 1, but even at that number I’m not going to wager on her and I don’t think you should either. In fact, let’s hope a good qualifier goes below her for us to bet on in round 2.

Maria Sakkari seemed like she was pushing into a higher tier of the WTA better players. She made the semifinals in Abu Dhabi, Grampians, Miami, and the French Open, but still has only 1 WTA title in her career. It was in Rabat in 2019. She is in the group of players in the low 30s at 33 to 1. I would need a much bigger number to bet on her to win the US Open this year.

I’m not sure what Ludmilla Samsonova has to do to get a little respect from the market, but until she does we will continue to bet on her. She is 150 to 1 in the outright betting markets and although I don’t expect her to win this event, there is a lot of value in that price. I don’t love that Samsonova has to face a qualifier in round 1, but she took last week of to recover & prepare for this event and there is only 1 or 2 names in the qualifying field that should challenge her if she’s playing good tennis. Next up is Ostapenko or Podoroska who can both be very erratic and lose the match on their own. Round 3 likely brings BVA and largely the reason we’re getting such a nice number. If she can avoid the Canadian or beat her, which I think is in play, she is a match away from the quarterfinals and us being able to lock in some profit should we desire. She’s on our list.

Bianca Andreescu played poorly during the few clay & grass events she entered and is just 1-2 on hard courts since then. She test positive for covid in late April and has looked to me like she’s struggling with her fitness since then. Andreescu in the range of 20 to 30 to range depending on where you look. It’s appealing number if you think she can quickly find a level close to her best, go for it, but I’m not interested. She will be challenged as early as round 1 and I’m not going to bet on her to play great tennis until I see that happen.

Quarter 3

3 women at the top this quarter enter in good form and could be competitive, but given their price and position are tough to bet on to win. Elina Svitolina is in the semifinals in Chicago and priced at 33 to 1. Market Vondrousova retired in the quarterfinals of the same event, but didn’t seem to be seriously hurt. You can bet on her at 50 to 1. Daria Kasatkina made the quarterfinals in Cleveland is as high as 100 to 1 to win their first grand slam this fortnight. I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of them in the quarterfinals, but I don’t think any of them make it beyond that point. Combine that with that fact that all 3 are so close to each other there is no value in those numbers.

We’ve backed Elena Rybakina a few times this year without success, but I’m ready to try again. She is 33 to 1 to win her maiden grand slam title in New York. She is just below the 3 women I just mentioned and the only thing between her and a match against one of them is Halep who we’ll cover shortly, but I’m not worried about that or anyone else in this quarter until the quarterfinals where it could be Osaka or another strong opponent. Rybakina is more than capable of winning that match and might be lucky enough to avoid the defending champ. At the price we’re in good shape if she wins the quarter and great shape if she faces another woman we’re going to back in the quarterfinals. I’m happy to back her in a soft spot of the draw.

For the first time in quite a while you can bet on Simona Halep to win a tournament at 20+ to 1 or better. It’s also the first time in quite a while that I don’t think we can make a reasonable case for her winning a tournament. She missed the French and all of the grass season after tearing her calf muscle in Rome. Halep returned in Montreal losing her first match and then withdrew before her second match in Cincinnati with a tear to her adductor. It’s allegedly a “small tear” and perhaps she’s had enough time to recover, but best case she enters this event with no form to speak of and doesn’t have easy opponents in the early rounds. I can’t back her at this point in the outright market and you shouldn’t either.

Similar to the top half, there are a few woman in the top part of this section that can make deep runs in this tournament. Angelique Kerber found her best tennis during grass season and carried it into a semifinals appearance in Cincinnati. She is 40 to 1 to win her 4th grand slam title. Her likely 3rd round opponent is Coco Gauff who is around 20 to 1 to win her 1st grand slam title. Gauff is tremendously talented and just keeps getting better. That said, she is still just 17 years old and although it’s crazy to expect this from a 17 year old, she hasn’t been able to break through the WTA’s best players at big events. Please take that sentence for the compliment it is, but also, don’t bet her to win at that number. As for Kerber, I think we have a wager. I like her to beat Gauff in that match and there’s a chance Coco get’s beaten before then. Round 4 and beyond gets tougher, but those opponents are women she has beat or is more than capable of beating.

The seed at the bottom of this quarter is Naomi Osaka who is the 2nd favorite behind Barty at 5 to 1. We all know how good she can be, but Osaka has looked uninspiring since returning to tennis for the Olympics in July. She lost to the silver medalist in 3rd round and then lost in the 2nd round of Cincinnati again to the 2nd place finisher. She is the defending champion and won the Australian Open earlier this year. Naomi is the best hard court player in the WTA when she is playing well, but can we really trust that to happen enough to bet that price? She’ll be a strong favorite through the quarter and possibly even in the semifinals, but does she make it that far? I think her path is littered with capable challengers who can beat her if she’s playing less than great tennis. There’s no value in that price, but I do hope she returns to greatness sooner rather than later. Things or more fun that way.

Quarter 4

One of the 3rd round matches I’m most looking forward to is the potential matchup of Garbiñe Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka. They have won 4 grand slam titles between them and have generally been among the best players in the WTA for years. The Spaniard is 22 to 1 and the Belarussian 40 to 1 to add another trophy to their case. They have been scheduled to play 5 times, but Azarenka withdrew before the last meeting and they each retired in one of the other 4 matches. The 2 matches they did finish were top quality. As excited as I am to see them play, I don’t expect either to make it much further than that and there is a small chance we don’t see get to see them play each other at all. Garbiñe hasn’t won more than 3 matches at an event since Dubai. Vika hasn’t won more than 3 matches at an event since last year’s US Open. They’ll be strong favorites in their first 2 matches, but I won’t hesitate the back the underdogs at the right number. Let’s cheer for them play in round 3, but let’s not bet on them win it all.

Barbora Krejcikova has played 31 matches since May and only lost 4 of them. Barty beat her at Wimbledon & Cincinnati, Bencic knocked her out of the Olympics, and she lost to Swiatek in Rome. So, that means for almost 4 months now Krejcikova has won or lost to winner of every event in which she has played. She is 22 to 1 to win this event. Her first serious challenge will be in round 4 against Muguruza or Azarenka and then she might have to go Sabalenka, Osaka, Barty to win her second grand slam this year. We’ll get to Aryna in a bit, but I already mentioned my concerns about Osaka and maybe 3rd time’s the charm against Barty in the final, but at this price I have a lot of equity if she can at least win this quarter which is my expectation in most scenarios. I have her around 12 to 1, so I’m happy to add this price to our portfolio.

The bottom eighth of this quarter starts with Elise Mertens who can had bet on at 50 to 1 win this tournament, but I wouldn’t wager on it if it were twice that number. Elise started the season as she usually does, beating up on woman outside of the top 25 and losing to the better players on tour. She’s a consistent player who generally does everything well, but lacks the kind of elite skills you see from the best players. The last few months we’ve seen her continue that pattern, but with losses to players outside of the top 25. Overall the WTA is getting better and she is being pushed further from the top tier. I think she can advance through a few rounds, but will overmatched as early as round 4.

Ons Jabeur is always appealing because of her skilled, intelligent play and is priced at 40 to 1 to lift her first grand slam trophy. She’ll be favored in her first few matches, but should be close in price to Mertens in round 4 and then is likely an underdog the rest of the tournament. At that number she would average of money line of -140(1,71). I expect to do much better than that match to match and am happy to see how she looks for a few rounds instead of putting money down now. If she starts with a few comfortable wins I won’t hesitate to back her against anyone in this event as a underdog, especially at some of the numbers I think we’ll see.

After winning 2 tournaments in a row, Danielle Collins finally lost in the 3rd round of Monteal. She was playing great tennis, but picked up a hip injury in Cincinnati. Collins has had a few weeks to recover and could get right back to winning matches in bunches. Despite that optimism, she’s only 33 to 1 with a path that could include the top 3 betting favorites and several other very good players along the way. These area also courts that have given her trouble in the past. She is just 1-6 at the US Open in her career. Similar to Jabeur, I’m going to see how she looks for a few matches and if she’s healthy and playing well I’ll look to back her in individual matches. We’ll get much better value than betting her at such a small number right now.

That leaves one final name to consider, the #2 seed and 3rd favorite at most books this week, Aryna Sabalenka. She is priced around 12 to 1 and has ought to be a big favorite in every match she plays until the semifinals and the final. She has 2 titles and a handful of quarterfinals and semifinals appearances that have pushed her all the way up the #2 in the world. The one last thing she has yet to accomplish is to win a grand slam event. It took 3 sets for Pliskova to knock her out of the semifinals at Wimbledon this year which was Sabalenka’s best finish ever at one of the big 4 tournaments. If she can continue to refine her aggressive style and play with more margin in certain situations one of those trophies could be hers soon, but with how she is priced we can’t bet on it happening. I’ve already mentioned how much I like Krejcikova if they meet in the quarterfinals and although the semifinal match could be easier, she still has to win the final against Barty or another great player. That number is much too small to warrant a wager.


Quarter 1 – Barty over Bencic

Quarter 2 – Pliskova over Samsonova

Quarter 3 – Kerber over Rybakina

Quarter 4 – Krejcikova over Sabalenka

Final – Barty over Krejcikova


0.75U – Krejcikova 22 to 1 or better

0.5U – Rybakina 33 to 1 or better

0.37U – Kerber 45 to 1 or better

0.12U – Samsonova 150 to 1 or better


Avg Rk – This is the average rank of opponent’s faced over that period.

Avg Spread – This is the average games more(or less) the player wins than their opponent. For example, 1.3 means that player averages 1.3 games per match more than their opponent.

Avg Total – This is the average total games in matches this player has played

Hold% – % of total games won on service

Break% – % of total games won on return