Australian Open Odds, Picks, Predictions: Sabalenka & Pliskova Will Dominate (January 20)
Robert Prange/Getty. Pictured: Aryna Sabalenka.
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The third round continues at the Australian Open with more interesting matchups on Friday’s order of play.
I’ve found more betting value on two matches for us to take a look at.
Read on for my Australian Open picks and predictions.
Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing Australian Open matches.
Australian Open Picks & Predictions
Aryna Sabalenka (-460) vs. Elise Mertens (+350)
10:15 p.m. ET
Aryna Sabalenka continued her hot form, defeating Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-1 to advance in Melbourne. Sabalenka won 74% of her first serve, didn’t double fault and was only broken once. She also won 53% of her return points, winning at least three points in all eight of Rogers’ service games.
Sabalenka has won her first 12 sets of the season. The Belarusian has already won a WTA Tour title this year in Adelaide, hitting with excellent controlled aggression. Sabalenka is known for her power, but her control in 2023 has been outstanding. Sabalenka has also overpowered her opponents on serve and limited her double faults.
Elise Mertens beat Lauren Davis 6-4, 6-3 to move on to the third round. Mertens won 70% of her service points and was only broken once. On return, she won 59% of her second-serve returns and broke serve four times. Mertens also won 9-of-11 net points.
She survived Garbine Muguruza serving for the match in the first round and is 3-2 overall on the season. The Belgian has both consistency and depth on her groundstrokes, but Mertens has a leaky forehand, a mediocre serve and generally not much power to her game.
This is a good matchup for Sabalenka, with the Belarusian having won the last four meetings (and seven sets) in the head to head against Mertens.
Sabalenka’s power will be too much for Mertens to handle. Her huge serve will give the Belgian few return opportunities. And, with the way she’s hitting her groundstrokes, she will take the racquet out of Mertens’ hands from the baseline.
Sabalenka’s groundstrokes going into Mertens’ forehand wing will be especially lethal.
When looking at Elo ratings, Sabalenka’s overall Elo is 203.6 points higher than Mertens’ and her hard-court Elo is 191.9 points above the Belgian’s.
Pick: Sabalenka -1.5 sets (-134 via DraftKings)
Karolina Pliskova (-330) vs. Varvara Gracheva (+260)
7 p.m. ET
Karolina Pliskova comfortably defeated Yulia Putintseva 6-0, 7-5 in the second round. Pliskova won 72% of her first serves and was broken just twice, although she only won 42% of her second serves.
She is now 4-2 in 2023, having dropped just nine games in her first two matches combined. Pliskova is known for her massive first serve, but, when in form, she gets consistent depth on her groundstrokes. Pliskova can also hit into precise targets. The Czech is patient, waiting for her opportunity to strike, but she’s not the best mover on tour.
Varvara Gracheva beat qualifier Lucrezia Stefanini 6-3, 6-1 after destroying Daria Kasatkina in the first round. Gracheva hit 23 winners versus 15 unforced errors and won 63% of her return points. This allowed the Russian to break seven times. However, Gracheva only won 53% of her service points, including 41% on her second serve.
Gracheva is now 3-2 on the season, with her run in Australia especially shocking, given that she lost 1-6, 1-6 to Anna Blinkova right before the Australian Open. Gracheva does nothing special, but she can dictate play from the baseline at times. She has a decent serve, but nothing that Pliskova can’t handle.
Pliskova is the much better player in all facets of the game. The Czech has the better serve and won’t allow Gracheva to get into her service games like she did against Kasatkina and Stefanini. And, unlike against Stefanini, Pliskova will not allow Gracheva to get away with such weak service numbers.
Looking at Elo ratings, Pliskova’s overall Elo is 311 points higher than Gracheva’s and her hard-court Elo is 287.9 points above the Russian’s.
Pick: Pliskova -1.5 sets (-114 via DraftKings).