WTA ‘s-Hertogenbosch Tennis Picks, Predictions: Trust Alexandrova to Play Sabalenka Tight (June 12)
Photo by SANDER KONING/ANP/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Ekaterina Alexandrova
Aryna Sabalenka vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova Odds
|Time||6 a.m. ET|
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World No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka has continued her good grass-court form in the semifinals of ‘s-Hertoegenbosch. Sabalenka defeated Shelby Rogers 7-6(8), 6-0, saving a set point in the first set.
But Sabalenka will face her toughest test in the final, where Ekaterina Alexandrova awaits.
Sabalenka Revitalized on Grass
Sabalenka has won eight of the nine grass-court sets she’s played this week in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, with the surface switch revitalizing the Belarusian’s season.
Against Rogers, Sabalenka won 50% of her return points, including 57% on Rogers’ first serve. This allowed Sabalenka to break serve five times with her punishing groundstrokes.
And while Sabalenka’s overall service numbers weren’t extraordinary — winning 61% of her service points — she was only broken twice and managed her serve well. In the second set, Sabalenka’s serve was really rolling, winning 75% of her first serves and not getting broken at all.
The Belarusian is a good grass-court player, with a 27-14 professional record on the surface. In addition, Sabalenka was one set away from the Wimbledon final last season, falling to Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 4-6, 4-6 in that semifinal match.
Sabalenka’s hyper-aggressive game works well on the grass. She has a huge serve and takes advantage of any opportunity to be aggressive. This includes on return, as she pummeled Rogers’ first serve today and immediately put the American on the defensive.
While Sabalenka’s rally tolerance is not a strength, the quick grass courts help mitigate this weakness and play to the strengths of Sabalenka’s game.
Sabalenka is a good net player, as well, winning at least 55% of her net points in five of six matches at Wimbledon last season. She also owns two Slam doubles titles.
Alexandrova in Great Form
Alexandrova has also played excellent grass-court tennis this week. She has lost 11 games in her past three matches, an incredible feat given the boost that servers get on grass.
In the semifinals, Alexandrova ran past Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 6-1. Alexandrova was dominant on her first serve, winning 80% of her first-serve points and only getting broken once all match.
It was the third match in a row that Alexandrova won at least 80% of her first serves, and she only has been broken once during that stretch.
On return, Alexandrova put massive pressure on Kudermetova. Alexandrova won 53% of her return points, including 58% on Kudermetova’s second serve. This allowed Alexandrova to break serve five times and rip through Kudermetova’s defenses.
Alexandrova is now 21-13 in her career on grass, with the surface playing to Alexandrova’s strengths. Alexandrova has a powerful, well-placed first serve and is playing with excellent controlled aggression from the baseline, including on return.
When Alexandrova is striking the ball this cleanly and with this level of precision, it’s hard to find an area to exploit in her game.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Alexandrova only made 51% of her first serves against Kudermetova, by far the lowest of the tournament for her.
If Alexandrova wants to defeat Sabalenka in the final, she has to raise this first-serve percentage.
This is a fascinating matchup between two huge ball strikers whose games are built for grass and are in great form.
Sabalenka has more grass-court pedigree than Alexandrova with her performance at Wimbledon last season, but Alexandrova is playing the better tennis this week. The Russian’s first serve is firing at an unbelievably high level and she’s barely losing service games this week.
While Sabalenka has a big serve of her own, she’s been erratic from the baseline more often this week than Alexandrova.
Whether it be in the first set against Kateryna Baindl, throughout the match against Alison Van Uytvanck and even in the first set against Rogers, there have been numerous times in Sabalenka’s matches this week where she has lost the range on her groundstrokes.
An opponent like Alexandrova might have a better chance to be able to take advantage of these dips compared to Sabalenka’s previous opponents.
Ultimately, in a tight match between two big servers, Alexandrova even getting 2.5 games is huge. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s played at a higher level this week.
Pick: Alexandrova +2.5 games (-121)