US Open WTA Semifinals Betting Odds & Picks: Can Azarenka Finally Beat Serena at a Slam?

Credit:

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Victoria Azarenka

Sep 10, 2020, 08:23 AM EDT

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We have an absolutely amazing semifinals lineup at the US Open on the WTA side tonight. Jen Brady, the only woman yet to drop a set at this year’s tourney, will join three former Grand Slam champs in what should be an extremely entertaining night.

American Jen Brady will get things started at 7 p.m. ET by taking on Naomi Osaka (-265 at FanDuel). Both of these players come in with spectacular form and should trade blows back and forth in an absolute bash fest.

I think this line is too high given Brady’s form, but nerves will play a major role as they do this late in a Major with WTA players making their first ever semifinals appearance. Osaka shouldn’t have any issues dealing with the pressure of this stage, having won two Grand Slams, including one here in Flushing back in 2018.

Meanwhile, Brady will make her first ever semifinals appearance at one of the four Grand Slams. We’ve certainly seen countless example of players melting down in this exact scenario. There’s also a slight concern about Brady’s leg, which has appeared to bother her slightly at times throughout this tourney. However, I didn’t see enough to really worry about in her dominant quarterfinal win. Brady should also benefit from having secured that win two days ago in quick fashion, giving her the longest break of all four women between the quarters and semis.

Osaka is the deserved favorite as the most talented hard-court player in the world at this moment, but the betting value here lies with Brady. I would definitely have a wager on the underdog if I didn’t have a pre-tourney 30-1 future. The nerve concerns are real enough to potentially keep me off since I’m already invested but I won’t be hedging regardless.

Let’s take a closer look at the second semifinal between two players have plenty of Slam experience in Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.

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Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka (-134)

9 p.m. ET on ESPN

From a name perspective, this is as good as it gets.

Serena will be making her 11th straight semifinal appearance in New York. However, she has yet to add a trophy to her collection in each of her four most recent trips. That’s been a theme for Williams in recent years, as the six-time US Open champion has failed to secure a 24th career singles Grand Slam title. The last Grand Slam championship for Serena came back in 2017 at Wimbledon.

It’s crazy to say for someone with Serena’s pedigree but she has demonstrated plenty of nerves in these spots over the past three years. The same belief doesn’t seem to be there for the soon-to-be 39-year-old, who obviously isn’t the same player we saw in her peak years.

There are also some endurance concerns for Williams, especially playing on back-to-back days after going three tough sets with Tsvetana Prionkova on Wednesday.

We last saw Williams play on back-to-back days in the Western Southern Open leading up to this tournament. And the results were ugly, as Serena couldn’t move in the third set with cramps and really should’ve been bageled in the third set by Maria Sakkari. That match also came the day after playing a long match against Arantxa Rus that went to a third-set tiebreaker.

Serena has actually gone to a third set in eight of her 10 matches since the restart and has yet to face a player with the pedigree and/or form of Victoria Azarenka, who loves this surface. Azarenka has won two Grand Slam titles in her career — both on the hard courts of Melbourne — and made two finals here at the US Open.

Azarenka looked like her vintage hard-court self in a bludgeoning of Elise Mertens last night. It was all working for the Belarusian, who hit such a clean ball en route to her 10th straight victory on these courts, starting with a title at the Western and Southern Open. Azarenka has gone to a third set in only two of those 10 victories and hasn’t shown any signs of diminished fitness during this recent run.

If you never watched tennis before this tourney, you’d think Azarenka was the one with 23 career Grand Slams. She’s playing the much better tennis right now and even getting help from her serve, which has held her back in this matchup historically.

Speaking of the head-to-head, Serena has dominated Azarenka in her career at Grand Slams, winning all of their 10 matchups at majors. The non-major meetings have been a bit kinder to Azarenka, who has taken Serena down four out of 12 times at other tourneys. All four of those wins also came in Premier hard-court title matches in Doha, Cincy, Indian Wells and Miami, so she has experience beating Williams on big stages. This isn’t as lopsided as Serena-Sharapova.

The fitness concerns are real for Serena, especially if this goes three sets, and that’s all Williams has done of late as she just can’t consistently find her game. She’s the greatest player of all time, so she could certainly find it at a moment’s notice. However, the nerves could creep up again as that 24th Slam chase weighs on her mind.

I think Azarenka is the side here. Her form is just that much better than Serena’s right now. Their last two meetings here at the US Open both came in finals when Serena pulled out tight three-set wins. I think Azarenka gets her revenge tonight and would certainly look to back her again live if we go three sets.

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