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Australian Open Odds & Picks: Aryna Sabalenka & Madison Keys Have Values as Underdogs

Australian Open Odds & Picks: Aryna Sabalenka & Madison Keys Have Values as Underdogs article feature image
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Brenton Edwards, Patrick Hamilton/Getty. Pictured: Aryna Sabalenka and Madison Keys.

The Australian Open has arrived and players’ first opportunity to snag a Grand Slam victory in 2023 is about to begin!

2022 champion Ashleigh Barty has retired from professional tennis, meaning that there will not be a repeat champion on the women’s side this season.

So, who are good value plays to win the Australian Open and what big name should bettors avoid? Read on for Australian Open odds and picks.

Note: Read here for tips on viewing Australian Open matches. The full women’s draw can be found here.

Australian Open Odds & Picks

Iga Swiatek (+250 via BetMGM)

No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek had a dream 2022 season. Swiatek’s game was firing on all cylinders. The Pole hit her spots on serve and had a heavy forehand that she used to control the baseline.

Even Swiatek’s backhand – historically her weaker wing – was not only more solid from the baseline, but she was able to use it as a weapon more often than in previous years.

Swiatek won eight WTA titles, including two Slams. She posted a 67-9 record on the year, including a 47-7 record on hard courts. She even went on a 37-match winning streak from Doha until the third round of Wimbledon.

Now, it is nearly impossible to sustain such impressive results from season to season. And despite starting the year 3-0, Swiatek has already fallen 2-6, 2-6 to Jessica Pegula on the hard courts of the United Cup.

Swiatek only won 37% of her service point and was broken five times in that match. The Pole’s return game was also off in the match, winning just 17% of her first-serve return points and breaking serve just once.

It won’t be the easiest draw for Swiatek at the Australian Open. The good news for her is that Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia, two big-hitters who can take Swiatek’s time away on the quick Australian Open courts, are on the other side of the draw.

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However,  if Bianca Andreescu is able to get past Marie Bouzkova in the first round, she should be able to challenge Swiatek in the third round. Either defending finalist Danielle Collins or defending Wimbledon champion and big-hitter Elena Rybakina likely await in the round of 16.

While it’s certainly possible that No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula will be waiting for Swiatek in the semifinals, it’s very possible that Swiatek will have played herself into the form she needs to win this title.

Given all that Swiatek has achieved in 2022, +250 feels like an overreaction.

Swiatek still has the best forehand on the WTA Tour, incredible fitness, fantastic anticipation and an ability to place her shots around the court perfectly.

While Swiatek’s year likely won’t be as strong as in 2022, +250 is a valuable price to win her second consecutive slam.

Aryna Sabalenka (+1000 via BetMGM)

No. 5 seed Sabalenka has enjoyed a red-hot start to the 2023 season. Sabalenka won the Adelaide 1 title over rising star Linda Noskova, not losing a set all tournament.

Sabalenka faced tough competition to snag this title, taking down Liudmilla Samsonova and Marketa Vondrousova, in addition to defeating Noskova. She won over 70% of her first-serve points in her last three matches of the tournament and didn’t allow any opponent to win at least 50% of the second serves.

But, perhaps what was most impressive to me was Sabalenka’s groundstrokes. Despite absolutely punishing the ball, she had remarkable control.

Sabalenka pushed her opponents around, dominated from the baseline and hit into precise targets as soon as she got the chance. The Belarusian took the racquet out of her opponents’ hands, playing some of the best tennis of her career.

She had major double-fault issues last season, yet she didn’t have a single match in Adelaide where she hit more than seven double faults.

Despite the double fault issues, Sabalenka still went 33-22 overall and 20-15 on hard courts in 2022. This included runs to the US Open semifinals and WTA Finals final match. At the WTA Finals, it’s important to note that Sabalenka defeated Iga Swiatek in the semifinals, hitting through the Pole from the baseline.

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Looking at her Australian Open draw, things set up fairly nicely for the Belarusian. The first seed that Sabalenka would potentially have to face is No. 26 seed Elise Mertens, who just lost to Maryna Zanevska in Hobart and is underpowered from the baseline.

Sabalenka would potentially have to face Belinda Bencic in the round of 16. They’ve split the head to head 1-1 and Bencic absorbs power well. With that said, given the way Sabalenka has been striking the ball recently, it’s hard not to see her overpowering Bencic from the baseline and forcing the Swiss to press on her groundstrokes.

The quarterfinals would be where Sabalenka has to face No. 2 seed Ons Jabeur. However, I don’t trust Jabeur’s fitness in the Australian heat and the Tunisian has not looked convincing to start the 2023 season.

And, we saw how her potential semifinal opponent, the No. 4 seed Garcia, crumbled in her US Open semifinal against Jabeur. Garcia’s power game completely abandoned her. I would favor Sabalenka in a potential semifinal matchup between the two.

I haven’t even mentioned that the conditions in Australia – based on qualifying – seem to be playing fast this season, which plays into Sabalenka’s hands.

Madison Keys (+3800 via FanDuel)

This is my “long shot” selection for the Australian Open, and it certainly seems as if No. 10 seed Madison Keys is being undervalued.

Keys clearly enjoys playing in Australia, given that she’s made the Australian Open semifinals twice. In fact, in 2022, Keys went an impressive 11-2 during the Australian swing.

To start off this season, Keys was 5-0 during her United Cup stint, which includes Keys showcasing her controlled aggression in hitting through Bouzkova in her opening match of the season.

Keys is always going to be a threat to anyone she plays because of her raw power. Whether it be on serve or from the baseline, she has the ability to take the racquet out of her opponents’ hands. Keys’ forehand is especially lethal, ending “neutral” ball rallies with one swing of the racquet.

While the American can sometimes turn into an unforced error machine, she seems to play with more control and enjoy the Australian conditions more than other places around the globe.

That should continue through the Australian Open this season, with the faster conditions accentuating Keys’ powerful groundstrokes.

Keys is on Swiatek’s half of the draw, although she did draw into Pegula’s quarter, which gives the Pole some time to trip up before a potential semifinal showdown.

She would potentially have to face No. 24 seed Victoria Azarenka or 2020 champion Sofia Kenin in the third round, but Azarenka is a little less consistent than she used to be and Keys beat Kenin at the Australian Open last season in straight sets.

Keys’ potential round of 16 opponent, Maria Sakkari, is not a mentally strong player and Keys can target her weaker backhand while matching Sakkari’s forehand in those exchanges.

And while Keys would likely have to face Pegula in the quarterfinals, we just saw Pegula lose to a power player in Petra Kvitova at the United Cup earlier this season. It’s certainly possible Keys pulls the upset.

She is not a favorite to win this title, but at +3800 there is value on her to win it all.


Leave: Coco Gauff (+1300 via FanDuel)

I thought that No. 7 seed Coco Gauff had a chance to win the title before the draw, but given Gauff’s outlook, I wouldn’t touch an outright.

Gauff has been in form to start this season. Although the field was weak, Gauff took home a WTA title in Auckland to start the 2023 season. The American did not lose a set all tournament and was dictating play from both wings and flying around the court.

The quicker conditions in Australia are not conducive for Gauff to be successful and the American has a couple likely matchups in her draw that are brutal to her strengths as a player. Her potential third-round opponent, No. 29 seed Qinwen Zheng, has the raw power to rush Gauff on the quick courts, particularly Gauff’s weaker forehand wing.

If Zheng doesn’t press when Gauff gets a lot of balls in play and can target her forehand, it’s very possible that Gauff sprays tons of unforced errors and an upset could be in the cards.

In the fourth round, Gauff would probably have to play No. 11 seed Paula Badosa. Badosa seems to be more confident and hitting with more authority than she was towards the end of 2022. She is 4-0 on the season, with victories over Anett Kontaveit, Kaia Kanepi and Beatriz Haddad Maia.

This would be a very stern test for Gauff.

And, if Gauff were to even reach the quarterfinals, Swiatek would likely be waiting for her. As I explained earlier, Swiatek is a nightmare matchup for for the American. She matches and exceeds Gauff in almost every aspect of the game and Swiatek would thrash Gauff’s forehand.

So, given the draw, stay away from Gauff when planning your Australian Open outright selections.

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