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WTA St. Petersburg Tennis Picks, Predictions: Our 2 Best Bets for Begu vs. Martincova & Mertens vs. Sakkari

WTA St. Petersburg Tennis Picks, Predictions: Our 2 Best Bets for Begu vs. Martincova & Mertens vs. Sakkari article feature image

Mike Kireev/NurPhoto via Getty Images. Pictured: Maria Sakkari.

We are into the quarterfinals in St. Petersburg, Russia, with all players feeling they have a realistic chance to win the title. While there are four exciting quarterfinal matches on Friday, two of the matches are ripe with value.

Which matches have value and how should you approach the quarterfinals in St. Petersburg? Read on to find out.

Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on watching tennis matches.

Tereza Martincova (+130) vs Irina-Camelia Begu (-152)

5 a.m. ET, WTA St. Petersburg

Tereza Martincova had a nice first-round win over Vera Zvonareva and then was fortunate that she got a walkover in her next match when Elena Rybakina withdrew from the tournament.

In the victory over Zvonareva, Martincova recovered from a set down, winning 62% of her service points compared to 52% for Zvonareva. Martincova broke serve five times and generated 11 break points during the match.

Martincova’s solid baseline game was enough to wear down Zvonareva and the Czech continues to do a great job of putting consistent depth on her groundstrokes.

Irina-Camelia Begu has had two impressive victories in a row. In the first round, Begu took out Shuai Zhang. Then, in the round of 16, Begu easily beat Petra Kvitova by a 6-4, 6-0 score.

Against Kvitova, Begu won 65% of her service points, while Kvitova didn’t even win half of the points on her serve.  Begu’s return was also on fire, breaking Kvitova five times while only facing one break point on her own serve.

Zhang and Kvitova both have big serves and try to be aggressive during points and control the baseline, so Begu’s ability to maintain control of the baseline and not let either opponent dictate is impressive.

Like Martincova, Begu’s consistent depth is a strength and she does a great job of taking advantage of openings to be aggressive when they present themselves. Begu’s ability to step up in the court and be aggressive is slightly better than Martincova overall.

Begu’s overall and hard-court Elo ratings are also just a little bit better than Martincova’s. While Begu might be traditionally seen as a clay-courter, she’s playing much better on hard courts over the past year or so.

While Begu has won less than 55% of her hard-court matches over the course of her career, in 2021, she won nearly 60% of her hard-court matches. She’s clearly taken this momentum into the new season, as well.

Overall, Begu has beaten the more impressive opponents this tournament and  is a little bit better from the baseline. This line does not accurately represent the difference in level currently between Begu and Martincova.

Pick: Begu ML (-152 via FanDuel)

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Elise Mertens (+150) vs Maria Sakkari (-195)

6 a.m. ET, WTA St. Petersburg

Elise Mertens has survived two tough matches to make the quarterfinals. After recovering from a set deficit to beat Alize Cornet,  Mertens then beat Petra Martic in three sets to reach the final eight of the tournament.

It’s been a streaky week for Mertens, where at some points she seems like a contender to win the event, and at others, it looks like she could exiting soon.

In the round of 16, Mertens was on fire until she was 5-1 (40-15*) up in the first set against Martic, and then struggled with her game until the third set in the 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory.

Even so, Mertens managed to win 63% of her service points compared to 56% for the Croatian. Mertens broke Martic’s serve five times, but there was a stretch during the end of the first and the second set where Mertens really struggled to gain traction on the Martic serve.

Maria Sakkari has yet to drop even five games in a set so far this week. After a comfortable victory over Anastasia Potapova in the first round,  Sakkari then beat Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-4 in the round of 16.

Against Alexandrova, Sakkari won  77% of her service points, didn’t face a break point, and held the Russian to only 60% of her service points won. It was a dominating performance which saw Sakkari do a great job absorbing Alexandrova’s pace and forcing her to overhit.

Sakkari controlled the baseline with her heavy forehand and anticipated where Alexandrova’s groundstrokes were going at a very high level. She also didn’t give Alexandrova many short balls to exploit.

Overall, Sakkari is playing very well and won’t let Mertens get away with the streakiness in her play. At only 2.5 games, this is a good spot to take Sakkari’s game handicap.

Pick: Sakkari -2.5 Game (-135 via PointsBet)

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