Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Madison Keys
- Four second-round matches are scheduled for Thursday in San Jose.
- Two previous Stanford champions will be in action: Madison Keys and Venus Williams.
- Despite that, I think a lesser-known American holds the most betting value.
Our Victoria Azarenka future (9-1) received a big, unexpected boost on Wednesday when No. 1 seed Garbine Muguruza pulled out with an arm injury. Lucky loser Anna Blinkova didn’t pose much of an issue for Vika, who advanced with an easy 6-1, 6-0 victory.
Looking ahead to today, defending champion Madison Keys and former champ Venus Williams will both be in action. The slower San Jose court won’t help Keys’ game as much as Stanford’s courts did, but she can beat anyone on Tour when zoned in — regardless of surface. She can also beat herself on any given day.
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On the other side of the country, Washington dealt with more rain. After winning the first set, our lone bet yesterday (Allie Kiick +154) had the match called at 4-4 in the second. Hopefully, she can close that out today.
With more rain expected to disrupt an already hectic schedule in D.C., I’d rather focus on the four second-round matches in San Jose. Let’s dig in.
Mihaela Buzarnescu (-135) vs. Amanda Anisimova (+115)
Time: 2 p.m. ET
H2H: First meeting
The most intriguing match of the day in my eyes. Buzarnescu grinded her way through a three-set win over Sachia Vickery on Tuesday, while Anisimova got by Qiang Wang in straight sets. Anisimova’s talent was on full display in that match, as she played countless perfectly constructed points. She was a little uneven in the second set but took full advantage of late errors from a fatigued Wang.
Buzarnescu presents a completely different challenge for the 16-year-old American. She will construct points and grind late, which will limit the effectiveness of Anisimova’s power. I still fancy Anisimova to find a way to win, as she has more talent. Plus, Buzarnescu is not playing at the peak form we saw earlier this year. I have to side with the American as an underdog.
The Pick: Amanda Anisimova +115
Maria Sakkari (-135) vs. Timea Babos (+115)
Time: 4 p.m. ET
H2H: First meeting
This should be a competitive hard-hitting match between two ball smashers. Babos looked OK returning to her preferred surface in a straight-set win over Kristina Mladenovic on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Sakkari looked splendid in her first-round victory over American Christina McHale.
This match should bounce back and forth, as both players can be very erratic. Ultimately, I believe Sakkari is the more talented player and should advance. However, I’d rather wait for a live opportunity to back the Greek in a match that should have plenty of swings.
The Pick: Sakkari live at +110 or better
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Madison Keys (-330) vs. Ajla Tomljanovic (+270)
Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
H2H: Keys leads 2-1
It’s a rematch of their recent Wimbledon first-round matchup, which Key won with ease (6-4, 6-2). Tomljanovic did beat her three years ago in this tournament, albeit at a different site in Stanford. They are also close friends, and Keys said before the Wimbledon match that she doesn’t feel comfortable playing against her, although it obviously didn’t affect her game.
Tomljanovic looked impressive in a dominant win (6-4, 6-1) over Georgina Garcia Perez on Monday, but Keys is in a different class. While Keys can be susceptible early in tournaments, I expect her to move on — as long as she keeps her unforced errors down. The line looks about right.
The Pick: PASS
Venus Williams (-355) vs. Heather Watson (+295)
Time: 10 p.m. ET
H2H: Venus leads 1-0
With neither player currently in good form, I don’t really know what to expect in this match. Watson comes off a hard fought three-set victory over Claire Liu, but this is a major step up in talent. Venus is a pretty steep favorite for someone who has shown up in only two tournaments this year, but she should advance with just an average performance.
The Pick: PASS
- Amanda Anisimova (+115)
Potential Live Play
- Maria Sakkari (+110) or better