We had a profitable 2-0 day in San Jose, but the major news was Johanna Konta’s absolute beatdown of Serena Williams. The Brit went breadstick-bagel (6-1, 6-0) on Serena, who suffered the worst loss of her 23-year career. Williams once again showed how vulnerable she can be early in a tournament.
Meanwhile, the Citi Open also had plenty of action, despite continued rainy conditions in Washington. Unfortunately for us, Sofya Zhuk fell in straights to Nao Hibino, but our two futures (Naomi Osaka 7-1 and Belinda Bencic 16-1) did advance with relative ease.
Their paths got easier when No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki withdrew about 90 minutes before play began due to a nagging leg injury. The Dane likely took the cautious approach with two Premier tournaments and the U.S. Open on the horizon. Since the first round was already underway, tournament officials couldn’t reseed the draw — making the top half wide open. Osaka now has a dream path to the final.
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Because of the rain, four first-round matches have yet to start. (You can find thoughts on three of those here.) It’s worth mentioning that Katie Swan has dropped down to +102, as I imagine money continues to fade Saisai Zheng, who retired from a match with apparent fatigue in China on Sunday.
While I think Wednesday could turn out fairly chalky, I do see a few matches with upset potential. Let’s take a look at the three most intriguing second-round matches across both tourneys.
Katie Boulter (-170) vs. Allie Kiick (+154)
Location: Washington, D.C.
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
H2H: Kiick leads 2-0
Kiick took down my longshot play, Xinyun Han, in the first round by simply letting Han make every error. Meanwhile, Boulter dominated Aleksandra Krunic 6-2, 6-0 in her first match at the Citi Open. I think oddsmakers are overvaluing that Monday performance from Boulter, who’s certainly no lock here.
In fact, Kiick actually owns a 2-0 head-to-head record vs. Boulter, with both wins coming on outdoor hard courts last summer. After rewatching parts of their more competitive match in Lexington, Ky., last year, I noticed Kiick clearly frustrates Boulter by getting to every ball.
The faster court here should benefit the bigger-hitting Boulter, but -170 is simply too steep with both players in solid form. Kiick is a capable defender who knows she can use her defense to find a way through. Too much value to pass on the underdog.
The Pick: Allie Kiick +154
Svetlana Kuznetsova (-185) vs. Ana Bogdan (+166)
Location: Washington, D.C.
Time: 8 p.m. ET
H2H: First meeting
Kuznetsova played her best match of the year Monday, running right through Kristie Ahn. Her movement was as good as I’ve seen in a long time, and she hit right through the court with ease.
Bogdan sprung an upset over last year’s champion, Ekaterina Makarova. The Romanian played within herself and remained patient as Makarova couldn’t control the unforced errors after the first-set tiebreaker.
If Kuznetsova can maintain her level from Monday, she will advance. However, Bogdan will play much better defense than Ahn did. I anticipate Kuznetsova’s level will drop some, turning the match into a long grind. I’d look closely at the over 21 games.
The Pick: Pass (lean over 21 games)
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Garbine Muguruza (-160) vs. Victoria Azarenka (+145)
Location: San Jose, Calif.
Time: 10 p.m. ET
H2H: Azarenka leads 1-0
This is the popcorn match of the day. Azarenka will need to significantly raise her first-round level to advance — which she has done recently against top players. Azarenka defeated Madison Keys and Karolina Pliskova in Miami earlier this year after almost a year layoff.
After a first-round bye, Muguruza will begin her summer hard-court campaign after a fairly disappointing grass season that ended with second-round exits at Birmingham and Wimbledon. The Spaniard has lost four of six matches overall. And considering her ranking, she also performed poorly during the winter hard-court season.
Azarenka won their only previous meeting in two tiebreakers on a hard court at Miami in 2016, but will need to serve much better than she did against Kateryna Bondarenko. Azarenka had a first-serve percentage of only 61%, winning 47/69 (68%). Conversely, she won only 18/44 (41%) second-serve points. Considering Muguruza will attack her second serve even more aggressively, Azarenka will need to increase her first-serve percentage closer to 70% if she wants to pull off the upset.
I actually think this line is spot on. I’ll simply sit back and hope that Azarenka can find her peak form a day after her 29th birthday to move our 9-1 future along.
The Pick: Pass
- Allie Kiick (+154)
Potential Parlay Pieces
- Elise Mertens (-480)
- Sloane Stephens (-335)