It was an unfortunate day for our pre-tournament futures. After blowing three match points, Belinda Bencic lost in a third set tiebreaker vs. Andrea Petkovic, who continues to excel in Washington. Things then got even worse when Victoria Azarenka (who won the first set) retired after sustaining a back injury in the second set against Danielle Collins.
After a great start for our four futures, we are down to Elise Mertens (14-1), who used outstanding defense to move by Johanna Konta in a tough two set match. I think the slow, hard court in San Jose fits her game perfectly. The Belgian will meet a tough adversary in Mihaela Buzarnescu in the first semifinal today.
Let’s take a closer look at both San Jose semis to see if there is anything worth betting.
After rain postponed play on Friday in D.C., multiple matches will be played today. You can follow my Twitter (@bmf1314) for updated thoughts throughout the day.
Elise Mertens (-175) vs Mihaela Buzarnescu (+165)
Time: 4 p.m. ET
H2H: Mertens leads 3-0
This should be a very competitive match between two similar, defensive-minded players. Mertens looked very strong in her quarterfinal win over Konta, while Buzarnescu was just a tier above Ajla Tomljanovic.
Mertens owns a 3-0 head-to-head advantage, including a win earlier this year in the Hobart final — which also came on a hard surface. Buzarnescu was in top form at that time, but the Belgian found a way on a similar surface. I think Mertens is a better version of Buzarnescu and is currently the more fit player.
I think -175 is a bit high, but I still expect Mertens to move on.
The Pick: Pass and let the Mertens future ride
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Maria Sakkari (-160) vs Danielle Collins (+150)
Time: 10 p.m. ET
H2H: First meeting
I expect another competitive match between two hard-hitting players. Sakkari has looked much better in this tournament, but Collins may be able to play looser after getting some help to reach the semis. (The American benefited from the aforementioned Vika retirement, while Sakkari looked very impressive in a win over Venus Williams.)
Sakkari is a deserved favorite due to her superior talent and better overall form this tourney — although the line looks spot on. However, if Sakkari loses the first couple games of the match as she did against Venus, I will play the Greek live as an underdog.
The Pick: Look for Sakkari +100 (or better) LIVE