Australian Open Odds, Picks, Predictions: Pegula Will Defuse Kostyuk’s Power (January 19)

Australian Open Odds, Picks, Predictions: Pegula Will Defuse Kostyuk’s Power (January 19) article feature image

Anadolu Agency/Getty. Pictured: Jessica Pegula.

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The third round begins at the Australian Open on Thursday with fascinating matchups littering the order of play.

I’ve found more betting value on two matches for us to exploit.

Read on for my Australian Open picks and predictions.

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Australian Open Picks & Predictions

Jessica Pegula (-350) vs. Marta Kostyuk (+280)

9 p.m. ET

Jessica Pegula defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 7-6(5) to advance in Melbourne. While Pegula won 66% of her first serves, she only won 44% of her second-serve points. However, the American broke five times, winning 52% of her second-serve returns.

Pegula is 6-1 to start 2023 and has won six-straight matches. In fact, Pegula has won each of those six matches in straight sets and has only been pushed past 6-4 in a set once.

The American has a well-placed serve and is very solid from both wings, getting excellent depth on her groundstrokes. She is a fantastic counterpuncher, but is doing a better job in the last year of building offense.

Marta Kostyuk took advantage of a fortunate draw, beating World No.  199 Olivia Gadecki 6-2, 6-1 in the second round. Kostyuk won 78% of her service points and did not face a break point. On return, she won 55% of her return points and broke on five occasions.

She is now 6-2 on the season and 4-1 in main-draw action. Kostyuk's serve is strong and she's only been broken twice in the tournament so far. Kostyuk has easy power and dictates from the baseline with her powerful groundstrokes.

Pegula's game matches up very well with Kostyuk's. She is an excellent mover and absorbs pace very well, meaning that it will be very hard for Kostyuk to hit through Pegula from the baseline.

She also has the offensive game, tennis IQ and volley skills that she can keep Kostyuk from dictating play with her groundstrokes and take Kostyuk out of her comfort zone.

When looking at Elo ratings, Pegula's overall Elo is 190 points higher than Kostyuk's and her hard-court Elo is 139.5 points above the Ukrainian's.

Pick: Kostyuk to NOT Win a Set (-116 via FanDuel)

Coco Gauff (-600) vs. Bernarda Pera (+410)

10:15 p.m. ET

Coco Gauff continued her good-form, defeating Emma Raducanu 6-3, 7-6(4). Gauff saved 8-of-10 break points and won 66% of her first serves (but only 48% of her second serves). Gauff also won just 37% of her return points, although she was able to break three times.

She recently won a WTA title in Auckland, starting the year 7-0 without having dropped a set. However, it's important to note that Pera will only be the second top 50 player that Gauff has faced this season. Gauff is very fast around the court, has a powerful backhand that she uses to control the baseline and a big first serve. However, Gauff's forehand can go haywire and her second serve is a liability.

Bernarda Pera upset Qinwen Zheng 6-4, 6-4 in the second round. Pera was strong on serve, winning 70% of her first serves, 60% of her second serves and only getting broken once. And while Pera only won 19% of her first-serve returns, she won 65% of her second-serve returns.

She is picking up steam this season, winning four of her past five matches and looking strong at the Australian Open since a rough first set in her opener to Moyuka Uchijima.

Pera has a tricky, lefty first serve and dominates from the baseline with her huge forehand, which has been in-form the past few matches. While Pera can hit too many unforced errors at times, she loves taking the initiative in rallies and does a good job of overpowering her opposition.

Gauff's backhand cross-court will go right into Pera's strength with her lefty forehand, and Pera has the game to hang in there from that wing against Gauff's best shot. Pera also has the power to pressure Gauff's forehand on the quick Australian Open courts and rush her from the forehand side.

Given that Gauff's second serve is a liability and that Pera has won 35-of-59 second-serve returns, this spells problems for Gauff. She has also saved 11-of-14 break points so far this tournament, which doesn't feel sustainable.

Pick: Pera +5.5 games (-125 via PointsBet)

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