WTA St. Petersburg Tennis Picks, Predictions: Bets for Martic vs. Mertens & Alexandrova vs. Sakkari

WTA St. Petersburg Tennis Picks, Predictions: Bets for Martic vs. Mertens & Alexandrova vs. Sakkari article feature image

Boris Streubel/Getty Images. Pictured: Ekaterina Alexandrova.

It's been an exciting start to the week in St. Petersburg, with players setting their sights on the winner's trophy.

As the field narrows down, that doesn't mean that the value St. Petersburg has presented is gone. There are still a couple matches where I see an edge.

Read on for analysis of two spots on the St. Petersburg slate worth thinking about.

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Petra Martic (+240) vs. Elise Mertens (-350)

9:15 a.m. ET, WTA St. Petersburg

Petra Martic picked up her first win of the season in St. Petersburg, beating Kamilla Rakhimova in three sets.

The Croatian went 0-2 in Australia, not even winning a single set, so it was nice to see her battle past Rakhimova.

Martic won 65% of her service points during the match and hit 13 aces compared to two double faults. In addition, she did a good job neutralizing the Rakhimova first-serve, holding the Russian to 61% first serves won and generating 15 break points during the match.

Elise Mertens is finally rounding into form. Alize Cornet certainly played better than I expected her to in Mertens first match of the tournament. However, the Belgian came back from a set down to beat Cornet in three sets.

While Cornet did a great job putting depth on her shots and hitting out on her backhand, Mertens stayed the course and ultimately won the war. She was solid from the baseline and patiently waited for her opportunities to attack Cornet's defenses.

Mertens held Cornet to 42% of her second-serve points won and broke the Cornet serve five times. Mertens also won a higher percentage of overall service points compared to Cornet.

In this matchup, I'm struggling to see where Martic can hurt Mertens. Martic prefers slower surfaces, which is evidenced by her 64% winning percentage on clay over the course of her career, compared to under 55% on hard courts.

Mertens' hard-court Elo rating is also over 225 points better than Martic's. And it makes sense, as Martic has a long windup on her forehand that Mertens can rush. Mertens can also take advantage of Martic's more-loopy groundstrokes and be aggressive with her groundstrokes and on return.

Overall, this spread seems a little small to me. Mertens should win this match without too many problems.

Pick: Mertens -4.5 (-110 via BetMGM)

Ekaterina Alexandrova (+170) vs. Maria Sakkari (-225)

11:15 a.m. ET, WTA St. Petersburg

Ekaterina Alexandrova started off St. Petersburg strong, taking down Camila Giorgi in a topsy-turvy three-set affair.

Alexandrova won 72% of her first-serve points and saved eight of ten break points during the match. On return, Alexandrova broke the Giorgi serve on four occasions.

However, she only hit 12 double faults during the match and won't be able to get away with that against Sakkari's rock-solid game.

With that said, Alexandrova is very comfortable on indoor hard courts. Her big-serve, first-strike game works well in the faster indoor conditions. In fact, two of Alexandrova's three WTA Tour finals during her career have occurred on indoor hard courts. This includes a final in Russia's other WTA tournament, the Kremlin Cup.

Maria Sakkari comfortably beat Anastasia Potapova 6-4, 6-4 to advance to this showdown with Alexandrova.

Sakkari was very clutch on her serve, saving 12 of 14 break points and came back from *1-4 down in the first set.

On return, Sakkari was also impressive. The Greek won 47% of her return points, with Potapova winning 6/20 second-serve points. Sakkari managed to break the Potapova serve four times.

This is a fascinating matchup where Alexandrova will look to take the initiative in rallies, while Sakkari will attempt to soak up that power, hold firm from the baseline, and counterpunch when necessary.

Ultimately, I think this is a tighter match than the odds might predict. Alexandrova is playing in her home country, she's very comfortable in the indoor conditions, and her first serve can win her some cheap points.

While Sakkari's baseline game will likely be too solid for Alexandrova over the long haul, and the variation in Alexandrova's level today makes me wary of a game spread, the Russian can certainly push this match over the total.

There will be times in this match where Alexandrova overwhelms Sakkari with her pace, and she should keep this competitive enough to where the over hits.

Pick: Over 21.5 games (-110 via PointsBet)

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