Ashleigh Barty vs Jessica Pegula Australian Open Odds & Best Bet
Anadolu Agency/Getty. Pictured: Jessica Pegula stretches for a forehand in a match against Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open.
Ashleigh Barty vs. Jessica Pegula
|Time | TV||3 a.m. ET | ESPN+|
|Odds via DraftKings. For tips on watching tennis matches, click here.|
Ashleigh Barty picked up another impressive victory in the round of 16, taking down Amanda Anisimova 6-4, 6-3.
It was a clean performance for Barty, who hit 23 winners compared to 17 unforced errors during the match. She also won 78% of her first-serve points serving at 67% first serves in and was only broken once during the match.
When Anisimova broke to go *2-0 up in the second set, it was the first time since Barty’s opening match of the season against Coco Gauff in Adelaide that she was down a break in any set.
This goes to show the level of tennis that Barty is playing at right now. Over the course of the entire tournament, she still has a positive winner/unforced error ratio with 69 winners and 61 unforced errors. Barty’s forehand is heavy and precise, helping her control the baseline. Her backhand slice stays low to the court and is very tough for opponents to handle.
Players like Camila Giorgi (her third round opponent) and Anisimova are so used to standing on the baseline and directing play, but Barty took them out of their comfort zones.
Jessica Pegula had a rough start to the season, but her level is rising quickly during the Australian Open. Pegula just beat Maria Sakkari 7-6(0), 6-3 to advance to this quarterfinal showdown with Barty.
Pegula was striking the ball so well and never allowed Sakkari to establish her style of tennis. The American hit 28 winners compared to 17 unforced errors and won 71% of her service points. She also did a great job of attacking the Sakkari second serve, with the Greek only winning 34% of her second-serve points.
The 2021 quarterfinalist had lost in the opening round of both warmup events as she struggled to find her timing and baseline rhythm in the very early goings of the season.
Then, Pegula dropped her very first set of the tournament 6-4 to Anhelina Kalinina. Yet, on the brink of a disastrous start to the season, Pegula somehow avoided disaster. Since that first set against Kalinina, she’s won eight sets in a row.
As mentioned, Pegula made her first-ever Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open last season, losing to Jennifer Brady in three sets from a set up. It seemed like she wasn’t ready for the moment last year, but with more experience in her pocket, perhaps this year can be different.
This is a very interesting matchup between two players who can dictate from the baseline and strike the ball very cleanly. Barty is the deserved favorite here, given her pedigree and level of play throughout the tournament. But that doesn’t mean that Pegula will just roll over.
While Barty’s overall and hard-court Elo is first overall, I want to compare Pegula’s Elo rating to Anisimova, Barty’s latest victim. Anisimova is 31st in overall Elo and 26th on hard courts, while Pegula’s Elo is 27th-best overall and 25th -best on hard courts.
So while there’s not a big difference between the two, Pegula’s Elo ratings are slightly higher than Anisimova’s. Pegula’s hard-court prowess is also shown in her 29-11 record on hard courts last season. Overall, over the course of Pegula’s career, she has a 199-118 record on hard courts, the best of any surface for the American.
Again, I understand that Barty had a 21-3 record on hard courts last season and 180-58 over the course of her career, but Pegula isn’t going to be defeated easily.
Barty has much more versatility to her game than Pegula. She has more touch, more shots at her disposal, and better net play. However, she also has more pressure, given that she’s the top-seeded home player who hasn’t ever won the event.
We saw how she crumbled at this stage of the tournament last year in a loss to Karolina Muchova. In 2020, her game collapsed in the semifinal stage against Sofia Kenin. The pressure on Barty to win her home event is real and it does affect Barty’s game.
So with all of this said, Barty giving 5.5 games at this stage of this tournament against a quality hard-court player like Pegula is too much. Pegula has a great understanding of when to rally and when to pull the trigger, she has easy power from the baseline, and she hits her spots on serve. The American also finally seems to have found her form from last season once again.
Barty should win this match, but Pegula will make her work for it.
Pick: Pegula +5.5 games (-115 at DraftKings)
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