Tennis Picks: Our 3 Favorite U.S. Open Bets for Tuesday
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.
- Vasek Pospisil over Philipp Kohlschreiber. Mihaela Buzarnescu over Sloane Stephens. Ivo Karlovic over Richard Gasquet.
- Our staff explains why those are their favorite tennis picks for Tuesday's U.S. Open action.
Day 1 of the 2020 US Open belonged to the chalk. Nobody really knew what to expect in this unprecedented tournament, but there were very few upsets at the Billie Jean King Tennis National Tennis Center on Monday.
Will we start to see some chaos on Day 2? Here’s our three favorite bets for Tuesday’s tennis action:
Sean Zerillo: Vasek Pospisil (-118) over Philipp Kohlschreiber
- Odds available at William Hill [Bet Now]
- Time: Approx. 1 p.m. ET
Vasek Pospisil had back surgery early in 2019, and since he returned to the court, he has been playing his best and healthiest brand of tennis in several years.
Notice how the Canadian’s combined rate of service and return games won took a noticeable dip after he fell out of the Top 25 in 2015 – before rebounding over the past two seasons:
- 2013: 104.7%
- 2014: 98.2%
- 2015: 100.6%
- 2016: 89.7%
- 2017: 94.9%
- 2018: 93.8%
- 2019: 96.6%
- 2020: 105.8%
He was on fire prior to the pandemic shutdown — despite a first round exit at the Australian Open — reaching the final in the Open Sud de France, while defeating David Goffin and Denis Shapovalov, before taking down Daniil Medvedev in Rotterdam and Hubert Hurkacz in Marseille.
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Outside of a run to the Quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2015, Pospisil has never had too much success at Slams — but he has won three of his past four opening round matchups in Queens — with a combined 0-9 record in other majors since his London calling.
His opponent, 36-year-old Phillip Kohlschreiber, has had quite a bit of success in Slams, with a 73-61 record (54.4%), but his own hold/break numbers are in a late-career decline:
- 2015: 107%
- 2016: 105.1%
- 2017: 106.5%
- 2018: 100.7%
- 2019: 100.8%
- 2020: 103.3%
Over the past 52 weeks, Pospisil owns a 3.2% edge on hard courts, 104.3% to 101.3% – and although the match is five years old at this point, it’s an added bonus that he defeated Kohlschreiber on a hard court in their only prior meeting (6-4, 6-2 at Rotterdam 2015).
Universal Tennis Rating has Pospisil as the current World No. 12 — ahead of Filip Krajinovic, Alex de Minaur, and Reilly Opelka — while Kohlschreiber is all the way down at No. 48, just behind Adrian Mannarino.
Tennis Abstract gives Pospisil a 55% chance of winning the match, with implied odds of -122, and I would bet him up to that number.
Stuckey: Mihaela Buzarnescu (+230) over Sloane Stephens
- Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
- Time: Approx. 5 p.m. ET
This play goes against everything that I’ve told myself: avoid backing the players who haven’t played since the Tour returned. I’m glad I took this approach as play hasn’t been pretty for those returning for their first match.
However, I have to make an exception here and back Mihaela Buzarnescu, who we haven’t seen in quite some time. I just can’t pass up fading Sloane Stephens’ current form at this price.
Sloane has lost in the first round in six of her seven tournament appearances in 2020. And her lone win of the season came back in early March against Emma Navarro, who currently ranks outside of the top 500.
And it’s not like she’s lost to top tier competition all year. Here are the American’s seven losses:
- Liudmila Samsonova in Brisbane
- Ariana Rodionova in Adelaide
- Shuai Zhang in Melbourne
- Renata Zarazua in Acapulco
- Leylah Fernandez in Monterrey
- Leylah Fernandez in Lexington
- Caroline Garcia in New York
Only Shuai currently ranks inside the top 50. Not only is Sloane 1-7 on hard courts in 2020, she finished 2019 on this surface with a subpar 10-13 record. She just didn’t look confident out on the court in her two matches since the restart and wasn’t moving as well as she has in the past.
That’s troublesome as she relies on her all-court coverage. Stephens certainly possesses a ton of power, but her defense leads the way when she’s right.
Some may argue that Sloane always steps up her game to another level in Slams. It’s a fair point, as the American has previously had underwhelming results prior to success at a Major.
But she’s currently far from the player we saw win the US Open in 2017. The new courts might not suit this version of Sloane, who I also think thrives off the energy of major crowds — a luxury she won’t enjoy this year.
Prior to the draw, I was hoping we would get a more ideal scenario to take on Stephens. Instead, Stephens got matched up with Buzarnescu, who hasn’t played a competitive match since 2019. The Romanian took time off to deal with an ankle injury that hampered her all of last season, leading to some poor results.
I essentially threw out her 2019 results and assume she’s now healthy, but how much will rust will we see? Nobody really knows. The serve could break down, and she could just be totally off her game. I won’t sit here and tell you I know she’s going to be solid, so I completely understand if you want no part of betting on Buzarnescu, who has lost in the first round in both of her career main draw appearances at the US Open.
Stephens has lost in the first round in each of the last two hard court majors, including a straight-set loss to Anna Kalinskaya last year at the US Open. There’s a lot of guesswork backing Buzarnescu, but I took a shot fading Sloane at this price. Let’s hope Buzarnescu can shake off the cobwebs and look like the player we saw win San Jose in 2018. Absolutely no result would surprise me, so I’ll give the Romanian a chance at this number and would play her down to +225.
Michael Leboff: Ivo Karlovic (+460) over Richard Gasquet
- Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
- Time: Approx. 5 p.m. ET
Does betting on a 41-year-old in a best-of-5 tennis match sound like your idea of a fun time? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good bet.
Given the circumstances, I’m keeping my eye on a few big prices at the US Open, and this was the first one to jump out at me for Round 1. Gasquet has basically every advantage in this match, but Karlovic’s massive serve is the great equalizer.
If Gasquet is able to break Karlovic, this bet is toast, but the courts in Queens are playing quick, so I am hopeful that Dr. Ivo can give this bet some legs.
This is a numbers play. At +460, you need Karlovic to win this match 18% of the time to have value. I think he easily surpasses that (Tennis Abstract gives Dr. Ivo a 29.5% chance).