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WTA Berlin Tennis Picks, Predictions: Gauff Overvalued Against Pliskova (June 17)

WTA Berlin Tennis Picks, Predictions: Gauff Overvalued Against Pliskova (June 17) article feature image
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Tiziana Fabi/Getty. Pictured: Karolina Pliskova hits a backhand at the Italian Open.

WTA Berlin is down to the quarterfinals and we have eight competitors left fighting for the winner’s trophy!

There are two matches on Friday where value has presented itself. Read on for my best bets and previews.

Note: Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.

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Maria Sakkari (-122) vs. Daria Kasatkina (+100)

5 a.m. ET

Maria Sakkari played her best match on grass of the season in her 6-1, 7-5 round-of-16 victory over Daria Saville. Sakkari won 79% of her service points and was only broken once in her victory. On return, Sakkari won 49% of her return points and generated 14 break points. However, it’s worth noting that Saville was erratic and underpowered throughout the match.

Sakkari is now 20-13 as a professional on grass. The Greek’s forehand has been very efficient this tournament, controlling the baseline and blasting winners when she finds an opening. With that said, Sakkari still looks a bit uncomfortable moving on the grass and her shot selection does not appear to be influenced by the fast, low-bouncing surface.

Daria Kasatkina ended Ekaterina Alexandrova’s six-match winning streak, taking down Alexandrova 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. Kasatkina neutralized Alexandrova’s serve, winning 55% of her return points and breaking serve nine times. However, while Kasatkina did win 67% of her first-serve points, she only won 31% of her second-serve points.

Kasatkina is 19-11 on grass in her career, even making the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2018. Kasatkina moves well on the grass, has a knifing backhand slice that stays low and does a great job of absorbing her opponents’ powerful shots and counterpunching effectively. But, Kasatkina’s second serve does sit up and she sometimes plays too defensively.

Sakkari will not be able to serve nearly as well against Kasatkina’s return game as she did against Saville. The Russian will be able to keep points alive with her movement and frustrate Sakkari with her slice backhand that will keep the ball out of her strike zone.

Kasatkina will also keep many rallies focused on the Sakkari backhand, as her placement around the court is one of the best on the WTA Tour.

It’s also important to note that while Sakkari’s overall Elo rating is higher, Kasatkina has the higher Elo rating on grass.

Pick: Kasatkina ML (+100 via FanDuel)

Coco Gauff (-200) vs. Karolina Pliskova (+155)

9:05 a.m. ET

Coco Gauff advanced to the quarterfinals in Berlin without too many problems, defeating Xinyu Wang 6-0, 6-4 in the round of 16. Gauff won 82% of her first serves and was only broken once all match.

The American also won the majority of her return points, including 14/18 of the points on Wang’s second serve. Gauff has recovered from her Roland Garros singles final loss and transitioned to grass nicely.

Gauff is an impressive 12-3 on grass in her career, including two round of 16 appearances at Wimbledon. Gauff’s backhand cuts through the court well and her net game is superb, having made two Slam doubles finals as a professional. However, her grass sample size is small and I’m not convinced her forehand, which requires a little extra time to be effective, can hold up long-term on the quick grass.  Gauff’s second serve is also not a strength of her game.

Karolina Pliskova snuck past Bianca Andreescu in the round of 16, winning 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(7). Despite playing against an excellent returner in Andreescu, Pliskova still managed to win 70% of first serves, serving at 67% first-serves in and hitting 12 aces. The Czech was clutch when she needed to be, breaking Andreescu when she was serving for the match.

Pliskova made the Wimbledon final last season and is 63-28 on grass as a professional. Pliskova’s first serve earns her many free points and her flat groundstrokes have pinpoint placement and stay out of opponents’ strike zones. In addition, Pliskova understands how to construct points on grass.

Gauff is having a great start to the grass season, but Pliskova’s serve is the biggest weapon she will have seen this grass-court season. In addition, Pliskova can use her flat, powerful groundstrokes  to rush Gauff on her forehand, forcing the American to leak unforced errors and short balls.

The Czech has much more experience on the surface and while Gauff has the overall higher Elo rating, Pliskova’s grass-court Elo is higher than Gauff’s.

Pick: Pliskova +3.5 games (-125 via PointsBet)

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