WTA Sydney Tennis Classic Odds, Predictions: Can We Trust Jabeur Against Kvitova? (Jan. 11)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 19: Ons Jabeur of Romania plays a shot against Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia during on Day Two of the VTB Kremlin Cup at Central court of the Irina Viner-Usmanova Gymnastics Palace and the Palace of Sports on October 19, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)
While there is a WTA event in Adelaide and Grand Slam qualifying in Melbourne, it feels like all of the stars of the sport have congregated at the Sydney Tennis Classic. With tons of matches to choose from featuring top players, there’s certainly value on this card.
Read on for analysis of two top-notch matches in Sydney:
Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on watching tennis matches.
Ons Jabeur (-186) vs Petra Kvitova (+138)
7:00 p.m. ET, Sydney Tennis Classic
Ons Jabeur has barely skipped a beat coming into the 2022 season. After a very strong 2021 year that saw her finish in the top-10 in the world, Jabeur easily took care of Astra Sharma in her first match in Sydney.
It was a dominating performance for the Tunisian, one that saw her win 81% of first serves while serving at 67% first serves in and not get broken all match. In addition, Jabeur won 67% of her second-serve return points and break Sharma four times.
Jabeur is a good baseline player and her backhand slice is one of the best slice-shots on the WTA Tour. It stays so slow and she can manipulate the slice so well around the court. She will certainly need that shot tonight.
Petra Kvitova’s start to the 2022 season has been scratchy, the put it nicely. Kvitova lost to World No. 223 Priscilla Hon to start the season, with Hon winning 73% of her service points and only getting broken once over the course of three sets.
In her first match in Sydney against Arantxa Rus, Kvitova played better in the three-set (nearly three hours) victory, but four aces compared to nine double faults is just not what we have come to expect from the Czech. And winning only 43% of her second serve points won’t cut it against Jabeur.
When Kvitova is at her best, her aggression is under control, and we haven’t seen that so far this season.
Jabeur has the slightly higher overall and hard-court Elo rating compared and Kvitova’s level of play this season suggests an even wider gap.
Yes, Kvitova has won all three meetings between the two, but I don’t see this as an indication of how this match will go, as Kvitova is not the player now she was during those matches.
We have an erratic Kvitova have to now dig out Jabeur’s low backhand slices that she’s known for. And Kvitova, a player certainly not known for her fitness, has to do this after playing nearly three hours in her previous match? I don’t see it.
Jabeur should cover a spread as low as 2.5 games.
Pick: Ons Jabeur -2.5 games (-120 via FanDuel)
Daria Kasatkina (-136) vs Elise Mertens (+108)
8:00 p.m. ET, Sydney Tennis Classic
Daria Kasatkina, with the exception of her Adelaide semifinal against Amanda Anisimova, has had a great start to the season. In Sydney this week, Kasatkina easily beat Sofia Kenin in her first match of the tournament, 6-4. 6-0.
Kasatkina won 50% of her return points, including 77% on the second-serve return, and broke Kenin four times in eight service games. Kasatkina has broken at least four times in every match besides the Anisimova match.
Elise Mertens played her first match of the season in Sydney against Fiona Ferro. After comfortable first set that saw her win 6-2, she played a very scratchy second set, with a combined eight breaks of serve in twelve service games.
After winning 91% of her first serves in the first set, Mertens only won 58% of her first serves in the second set, and she was only serving 53% of first serves in during that set! And while Mertens eventually won the set (and the match) 7-6(5), it was clear that she had not completely played herself into form quite yet.
I know you’re probably thinking, “David just recommended Kasatkina and she got smoked!” Here’s why today is different. Anisimova has a bigger power arsenal compared to Mertens. Anisimova was ripping return winners, powering through Kasatkina from the baseline, and not letting the Russian get into a rhythm at all.
Mertens doesn’t have the game to do that. She’s very solid, has no major weaknesses, but she doesn’t have the big groundstrokes that can give a player like Kasatkina problems. Mertens, like Kasatkina, is a very baseline-centric player without a huge serve and will allow Kasatkina to stay in her comfort zone, hitting her deep, heavy shots from a comfortable position on the baseline.
And this type of tactic was best exemplified in San Jose last season. In that match, Mertens won only 53% of her service points, faced 14 break points, and struggled to win baseline rallies in a 3-6, 2-6 loss to Kasatkina.
And now we’re getting Mertens when she still hasn’t completely found her rhythm from the baseline (so early in her season) against Kasatkina playing at a similar level to San Jose?
I’ll take my chances on the Russian.
Pick: Kasatkina (-136 via PointsBet)