WTA Birmingham Tennis Picks, Predictions: Trust Tomljanovic to Power Past Martic (June 13)
Nathan Stirk/Getty. Pictured: Ajla Tomljanovic.
The WTA Birmingham event is set to begin and the player field looks incredible.
There are two spots on Monday’s order of play where value has presented itself.
Read on for my best bets and previews.
Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.
Ajla Tomljanovic (-157) vs. Petra Martic (+122)
6:00 a.m. ET
Ajla Tomljanovic reached the quarterfinals of Nottingham last week but fell 2-6, 6-7(6) with the semifinals in reach.
Tomljanovic won only 57% of her first serves against Viktorija Golubic, a huge contrast from the 79% of first-serve points she had won in Nottingham coming into the match.
Getting that first strike in rallies is so important for Tomljanovic to dominate the baseline.
While Tomljanovic’s 31-25 career-record on grass isn’t great, she went 6-3 with a Wimbledon quarterfinal appearance last season.
Tomljanovic hits with good controlled aggression on the grass, knowing the right times to just stay in the rally and when to go for her shots. The Aussie’s first serve is precise in its placement and she has good pop on her groundstrokes.
Petra Martic is playing her first grass-court match of the season, having gone just 2-3 on the surface in 2021. With that said, in Martic’s career, she has a 29-20 record on grass. Given the pandemic hiatus of 2020, however, this means that she’s only played five grass-court matches since 2019.
Martic’s cutting backhand slice is a huge reason for her past grass-court success, as the ball barely bounces and stays out of opponents’ strike zones.
However, the Croatian’s forehand is very heavy, which helps her on clay, but doesn’t do much damage on grass courts. Martic will need to flatten out her forehand a bit in order to more effectively penetrate the court.
This will be Martic’s sixth grass-court match since 2019, while Tomljanovic nearly played that many matches on grass during Wimbledon alone last season. Tomljanovic will be the more comfortable one on grass tomorrow.
Tomljanovic has more power on her groundstrokes and her forehand is much more effective on grass that Martic’s more loopy forehand. Expect Tomljanovic to punish Martic’s forehands, which sit up in the court on grass.
While Martic’s backhand slice will be effective, I don’t trust her non-slice backhand to hold up when Tomljanovic pressures that wing.
Pick: Tomljanovic -1.5 games (-125 via PointsBet)
Harriet Dart (-130) vs. Camila Osorio (+100)
7:30 a.m. ET
Harriet Dart was a set away from the semifinals of Nottingham last week, losing 6-4, 2-6, 1-6 to Alison Riske.
While Dart only won 44% of her second serves against Riske, she had won over 60% of her second-serve points in both of her previous matches last week. On return, Dart won a combined 53% of her second-serve return points in Nottingham.
While Dart has a 26-36 professional record on grass, a lot of those matches occurred when she was younger and not ready for tennis at this high level.
Even still, Dart has plenty of experience playing on grass and is gaining an understanding of both how to construct points on the surface while increasing her rally tolerance on grass. Dart can also ramp up the pace when she sees an opening.
Camila Osorio looked lost in her 2-6, 3-6 loss to Maria Sakkari in Nottingham last week. Osorio won just 24% of her second-serve points and was broken four times. She was very ineffective returning Sakkari’s first serve, winning just 22% of her first-serve returns.
Osorio moves well on grass, but she didn’t showcase the aggression needed to be a huge factor on the surface.
She tried to play her clay-court game on grass, struggling with the low bounces and faster conditions. While Osorio qualified and made the third round of Wimbledon last season, I’m not sure her game will work on grass long-term.
Dart has the consistency to hang with Osorio from the baseline, but unlike Osorio, she has the confidence in her weapons to flatten out her groundstrokes to take command of points.
Osorio does do a good job of moving the ball around the court, but given Dart’s comfortability moving on grass, this shouldn’t be a problem for the Brit.
It’s important to also note that Osorio has only played eight grass-court matches in her career, whereas Dart has played 62. Dart has significantly more experience on the grass, which will play a role in this match.
Pick: Dart ML (-130 via BetMGM)
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