Not much needs to be said about two of the best players of a generation meeting for the 30th time on a stage such as Arthur Ashe on Friday night at the U.S. Open. There’s also another women’s match tonight, featuring 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova and American teenager Sofia Kenin.
Let’s take a closer look at both matches.
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Serena Williams (-285) vs. Venus Williams (+260)
Time: Not before 7 p.m. ET
H2H: Serena leads 17-12 (10-9 on hard court)
The two have actually met five prior times in New York, with Serena taking three — including their most recent encounter in Queens in the 2015 quarterfinals by a score of 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
However, Venus won their only 2018 meeting, which came on a hard court at Indian Wells.
The over/under is set at 21.5 games. If we look back at their past meetings after removing the one walkover, exactly 50% went over (and obviously under) that number. The total looks spot on, as I would’ve loved to play an over 20.5.
Serena has looked like vastly better so far this tournament, as she’s dominated her first two opponents, although Venus has played tougher competition to be fair.
At this point in their careers, the two sisters are very different players. Venus plays a more defensive style, featuring one of the better returns in the game when playing well.
And while Serena also plays outstanding defense when fit, she’s still an offensive-minded power player who can hit any player off the court. Her mobility still isn’t back to 100%, which is a cause for concern on an extremely slow Ashe court this year (especially as the competition gets fiercer).
Serena has more talent and power in 2018, but don’t rule out any outcome in such an emotional match. At this price, the value is with Venus moneyline.
Karolina Pliskova (-325) vs. Sofia Kenin (+295)
Time: Not before 9 p.m. ET
H2H: Pliskova leads 1-0 (2016 U.S. Open)
In tonight’s “other” WTA third-round match, Pliskova will take on American Sofia Kenin. Two years ago, Pliskova beat then 17-year-old Kenin (6-4, 6-3) in the U.S. Open first round en route to a run to the final. Kenin has matured a bit since, and Pliskova has sky-high expectations.
Kenin plays a style similar to Pliskova’s first two opponents (Zarina Diyas and Ana Bogdan). The American teenager will play a super defensive game and try to be a brick wall against the aggressive Czech, who will benefit from seeing similar players in the first two rounds.
Pliskova seems to be gaining confidence with new coach Conchita Martínez (and the help of Rennae Stubbs). She seems to be thriving under the guidance of the power duo, but she’s also had a very beneficial draw.
If Pliskova serves efficiently and plays as confidently as we saw in the first two rounds, she will overpower Kenin. However, I still don’t fully trust her form, and the American will certainly fight behind the prime-time New York crowd. Kenin holds the value at this inflated price.