Monday US Open First Round Betting Odds, Preview: Marie Bouzkova vs. Jessica Pegula (August 31)

Credit:

Al Bello/Getty Images. Pictured: Jessica Pegula.

  • Stuckey breaks down one of his favorite matches from Monday's U.S. Open action, backing Jessica Pegula vs. Marie Bouzkova in the opening round.
  • Get his full breakdown, plus quick thoughts on a few other matches, below.

For me, handicapping this year’s early round US Open matchups is much more difficult than usual with so much uncertainty and lack of recent match play to go off of. I like to watch as much tennis as possible to get a solid grasp of form and pick up little tidbits here and there. That’s just not possible after the restart with a majority of the R1 matchups.

One of the few Monday matches where that’s not the case is Jessica Pegula vs. Marie Bouzkova. This matchup features two players I have actually seen plenty of tennis from leading up to Queens.

Marie Bouzkova vs. Jessica Pegula (-113)

Time: Approx. 6:15 p.m. ET

This first round matchup is almost criminal with a diluted field, as both players are among only a handful in the draw that arrive in good form. The winner of this match can certainly make some noise here, starting with an of upset Petra Kvitova in the second round

Bouzkova won each of their only two previous meetings, but you can throw out the match on clay back in 2014 when Pegula had to retire. The Czech also won when they clashed on a hard court in a Macon 80K but that came back in 2018. Pegula is just a much better player in 2020.

The 26-year-old Buffalo native and daughter of the Buffalo Bills owners was a very late bloomer on Tour. Her drastic rise in quality started back in 2019 when she won her first title at the Citi Open. She’s simply a much better and more fit player than she once was.

She then got off to a quick start in 2020 with a hard-court final appearance in Auckland. After a third-set bagel over Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals, she dropped the final against Serena Williams. I think partly due to that aforementioned WTT appearance, she has maintained a high level after the restart.

Also, while many women in this field had a long layoff during the pause in play, Pegula kept her strong season going with an appearance in the World Team Tennis season back in July. She ended being one of the most impressive players of that season, posting a 9-2 singles record that helped lead the Orlando Storm to the playoffs. That experience and match play (she also played doubles and mixed doubles) only helped increase her growing confidence and build on her improving form.

In “Cincinnati” — which was played in New York on the same courts we’ll see at the US Open — she came through qualifying and then beat an in-form Jennifer Brady (fresh off a title in Lexington), Amanda Anisimova and Aryna Sabalenka. That’s a trio of seeded players in this year’s draw. Impressive to say the least. She should be very familiar with these courts after a singles and doubles run leading up this tourney. The faster court speeds also really suit her game.

Bouzkova is a more than capable player on hard courts. Look no further than three top-10 wins on hard courts last season. She also arrives in New York in much better form than most. After the restart, she made the final in Monterrey (albeit on clay), the quarterfinals in Lexington and then upset Kvitova here in New York.

I just don’t put too much stock into that Kvitova win, as the Czech struggled mightily with her serve and conditions in the latter half of that match.

In a matchup of two fairly similar players, I’m riding with the American, who I believe is just playing slightly better tennis at the moment and has played as much competitive tennis as anyone in the field since coronavirus shut down the Tour. I expect a close match but think Pegula will get a few more chances to break, which will ultimately prove to be the difference. I’d play this up to -120

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Other Monday Musings

Monday doesn’t really present us with a very appetizing WTA betting card but here are some quick thoughts on three other matches.

  • How will Naomi Osaka look after injuring her hamstring, which forced her to withdraw from the final on Saturday? Even with fitness concerns, I’m not sure I can make the case for fellow countrywoman Misaki Doi, who is 0-17 in her career against top-10 players. Although Doi did hold a match point in the 2016 Australian Open first round against Angie Kerber, who would go on to win the tournament.
  • I wouldn’t fault you for fading Daria Kasatkina at the moment. She’s completely lost out on the court as it seems all of the coaching changes have really shot her confidence and her game in disarray.
  • If you’re looking for a ML parlay piece, I’d look at American sensation Coco Gauff against Anastasija Sevastova. The Latvian has made a few deep runs here over the past five years but she’s completely out of form in 2020 with an 0-6 hard court record, including two straight-set losses since the restart.
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