Two of the three remaining Americans on the women’s side (Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens) will be in action in today’s two WTA U.S. Open quarterfinal matches. Both are heavy favorites, though neither of their opponents are pushovers.
Let’s take a look a closer look at both matches, starting with defending champion Stephens.
>> Sign up for The Action Network’s daily newsletter to get the smartest conversation delivered into your inbox each morning.
Sloane Stephens (-245) vs Anastasija Sevastova (+205)
Time: 12 p.m. ET
H2H: Stephens leads 2-1 (all on hard courts)
Besides her match against Anhelina Kalinina in the second round, Stephens has looked like the best player in the world at the U.S. Open. Her systematic takedowns of Victoria Azarenka and Elise Mertens looked so easy. No player on the WTA tour counterattacks better than Stephens.
Sevastova has sky-high confidence in NYC, as she looked great in a three-set victory over Elina Svitolina on Sunday. That win secured her third straight U.S. Open quarterfinals appearance. In last year’s quarterfinals, she lost to none other than Stephens in a third-set tiebreaker.
Sevastova repeatedly takes pace off shots and will move her opponent all over the court. If she can move Stephens around and set up some drop shots, she’ll have a chance.
The issue, though, is I think Stephens will play aggressive from the start and push Sevastova around, similar to what happened four weeks ago at the Rogers Cup. Stephens made easy work of Sevastova in Montreal, winning 6-2, 6-2.
If Stephens stays aggressive throughout, especially on serve, she should move on to the semifinals. I think Stephens wins and is a worthwhile moneyline parlay piece — perhaps with del Potro on the men’s side (as Scotti suggests in today’s ATP preview).
Serena Williams (-310) vs. Karolina Pliskova (+255)
Time: 7 p.m. ET
H2H: Tied 1-1 (both on hard courts)
Pliskova played her best match of 2018 on Sunday in her straight-sets win over Ashleigh Barty. However, the Czech also benefited from some extremely tight points from Barty, who committed six unforced errors on her eight break point chances. The Australian finished 0-for-8 on break chances, while Pliskova had two break chances and won both.
These two have only met twice, but Plisjkova won their most recent meeting — here at the U.S. Open in the 2016 semifinals.
Pliskova will need to take advantage of those small opportunities if she wants to defeat Serena in Ashe Stadium again. Serena lost her first set of the tournament Sunday to Kaia Kanepi, but rebounded nicely in the third set.
Pliskova plays a similar aggressive style to Kanepi, so Serena should be well prepared. Pliskova has played with a little more margin and is not hitting as flat lately, but she will need to go for the lines to win this match.
I make Serena a -280 favorite, so there’s minimal value on Pliskova, who at least can lean on her prior experience of beating Serena on this big stage. I’m personally passing.