2021 U.S. Open Women’s Betting Guide: Will Naomi Osaka Do It Again?
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Naomi Osaka.
The 2021 U.S. Open is upon us, bringing a number of unique storylines on the women’s side of the tournament.
Both Serena Williams and Venus Williams won’t be playing in the tournament, which is a novel sentence to be writing in the 21st century. The star power that the two bring will be missed, but there are plenty of other reasons to follow along.
Naomi Osaka is bidding to win her third hard-court slam title, but not without a controversial 2021 prior to the tournament, igniting a media firestorm regarding interviews and the mental health of athletes.
Ash Barty is looking to capitalize on a stunning summer season, with an eye towards strengthening her grip on the number one ranking. The Australian is playing flawless tennis at the moment, with back-to-back titles to her name, including a Wimbledon crown.
In short, a Williams-less tournament won’t limit this iteration of the U.S. Open.
A Subdued Title for Osaka
In 2020, Osaka added to her achievements and stardom with a third grand slam. Though she was pushed at times, particularly in the final when she was a set and a break down to Victoria Azarenka, she was largely dominant and displayed why she has the potential for such great success.
Serena made another big push in the event and looked on track to reach the final, before Azarenka stormed back in the semifinal to take out the legendary American.
Otherwise, breakout players included Americans Jen Brady and Shelby Rogers, but the tournament was fairly straight forward and subdued compared to normal years due to the fan situation.
With 2020 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a look at the women’s draw for 2021 and see what futures opportunities are to be had.
Ashleigh Barty +375
I’m always hesitant taking favorites to this extent in the women’s game due to the heavy variance that can exist, but in this instance Barty’s price is valuable.
The Australian has been on fire in recent months, though Sara Sorribes Tormo eliminated her in the first round of the Olympics, the lone blip of the summer for Barty.
While Barty may have stiff competition when she arrives at the fourth round, having a possibility of needing to deal with the aforementioned Sorribes Tormo or consistent Karolina Muchova, she’ll heavily back herself to survive those tests.
Barty’s quarter is relatively stacked with dangerous players like Iga Swiatek, Muchova, Belinda Bencic and Brady, but a majority of them are in the bottom half of the draw, meaning Barty won’t see them until the quarterfinals. Only Brady and Muchova are eligible to face Barty before the QFs.
Additionally, Barty is playing the best tennis on tour right now and is a player to trust in pressure situations where consistent play is needed over a long period of time. She’s rightly priced as a favorite, but she should be even shorter.
Aryna Sabalenka +1400
I’ll use this section to discuss why I prefer Sabalenka at this number to Osaka at +500. The two have a fairly similar shot at winning the tournament, all factors considered, though you may give a slight edge to Osaka due to her pedigree. There’s no reason for Sabalenka to be nearly 3x longer given the consistent results she’s displayed over the past months.
The only real disappointment for the Belarusian since Wimbledon was her first-round defeat to Paula Badosa in Cincinnati.
Sabalenka’s draw doesn’t present any unnecessary test, and with Osaka’s recent form and never-ending media pressure around her, it’s not a time to go with the Japanese star.
That doesn’t mean that she has no chance at the title. Osaka could pull off yet another slam run that separates her from the pack, but at +500, you’re taking a risk that doesn’t need to be taken.
Leave: Iga Swiatek +1500
Don’t get me wrong, the young Swiatek has weapons to become a dominant force on tour. But since her stunning victory at the French Open, she hasn’t been able to replicate her slam success and has particularly struggled off of clay.
Swiatek hasn’t played much tennis in the past two months, largely because she lost in the second round at the Olympics and the first round in Cincinnati, so she isn’t entering Queens with any semblance of form.
There are better long-shot opportunities to be had.
Quarter 1 Winner Best Bets
Ashleigh Barty +130
As I mentioned earlier, Barty is in a prime position to make another deep run in a slam. If she slips up, it’s unlikely to be prior to the quarters, and because of that this is a good number.
A matchup in the quarterfinal could be challenging, with a number of difficult options out there, but if Sorribes Tormo or Muchova is the stiffest test prior to that point, Barty should be confident that she can put her Tokyo loss behind her and advance, even if she has demons to get through with the Spaniard.
Sara Sorribes Tormo +2800
If Barty is to lose in this quarter, however, I think it could be at the hands of the aforementioned Sorribes Tormo. She’s an incredibly consistent ball-striker that lacks powerful weapons but makes up for them in grit and fitness. Sorribes Tormo is a tough test for any player on tour right now, and if anyone in this quarter can take out Barty, I genuinely think it’s her.
That doesn’t mean that Sorribes Tormo has easy matchups elsewhere, including a battle with Australian Open semifinalist Muchova in the first round, but at this price Sorribes Tormo is a must-bet.
Quarter 2 Winner Best Bets
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova +1000
The Russian is having one of the best years of her career and has a draw that will give her hope of a few easy matches before facing real competition, possibly in Paula Badosa.
Her power should translate really well onto the hard courts of Flushing Meadows, and in a wide open quarter, getting a player of this quality at +1000 is a great opportunity.
Maria Sakkari +1000
As I mentioned above, this is a wide-open quarter, so getting someone that will give you consistency is of the utmost importance. Sakkari will do that, and though she doesn’t have the best results on hard court this season, she looked excellent in Queens last season, narrowly missing out on a QF berth to Serena.
You could opt for a player that is in better form such as Pliskova at 3/1, but at that price it’s much more valuable to look at a player that can get you a bigger return with less risk.
Quarter 3 Winner Best Bets
Coco Gauff +750
The only reasonable explanation for Gauff’s odds looking like this is her draw. It’s a fairly brutal one in theory, with matches against Angie Kerber and Osaka on the cards, but Gauff is far too solid to be priced at this number.
Since the beginning of 2020, Gauff is 1-1 against Osaka in slams and 0-1 against Kerber, falling in two narrow sets. With added experience and playing in front of a raucous home crowd, the American has a great chance to make a big move and reach the semifinals.
Marketa Vondrousova +1400
Vondrousova has elevated her game this summer, making an incredible run at the Olympics that included wins over Naomi Osaka and an utter destruction of possible R3 opponent Elina Svitolina.
She doesn’t have the career results to earn the recognition of the public or oddsmakers just yet, but this could be one of your last chances to get the Czech player at this good of a price to reach the semifinals.
Jump on it.
Quarter 4 Winner Best Bets
Aryna Sabalenka +300
Sabalenka has a clear draw to the fourth round. I mean, really clear. Danielle Collins in the third round could pose a tough test, but the American just doesn’t have the weapons to break down Sabalenka when she’s playing close to a high level.
Look for Sabalenka to drop her level in some moments, but never enough to truly get tested until that possible run in with Jabeur and in the QF.
Ons Jabeur +1000
Speaking of Jabeur, she is a player that comes in with extreme confidence and a chance to sneak out of this draw if she finds her top game. Jabeur thrived at Wimbledon, dominating quality players like Swiatek, and if she can upset Sabalenka, her only other huge test would be in the quarters.
The Tunisian’s game is built for a place like New York, and she can really thrive in the next two weeks.