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WTA US Open Quarterly Betting Preview: Simona Halep Must Contend With 3 Former Champs


Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Simona Halep

  • No. 1 Simona Halep (+650) finds herself in a loaded quarter with three former US Open champions.
  • Serena (+600) is the 2018 US Open betting favorite, but Halep is actually favored to win the quarter.
  • The bottom half looks wide-open with vulnerable top seeds in Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova.

No. 1 overall seed Simona Halep (+650) has an extremely difficult US Open draw, headlined by a potential fourth-round showdown with tournament betting favorite Serena Williams (+600). While Serena has slightly better odds to snatch her seventh US Open title, Halep is actually the favorite to win this quarter at +250.

How loaded is this quarter? Well, it features three former US Open champions (Serena, Venus and Svetlana Kuznetsova) — and four finalists if you include Karolina Pliskova. You can throw in two other Grand Slam champions in Halep and Muguruza as well.

Let’s dive deeper into this gauntlet of a quarter to help with your futures and first-round betting preparation. We’ll start with a form check of the seeds and finish with some first-round action.

Seed Form Check

(2018 summer hard court record)

#1 Simona Halep (9-1) — Hottest player in the world looking for her second Slam of the year. She brings every tool to the table and now has the necessary confidence after shedding the “best player to never win a major” label — which also allows her to play looser. The draw is tricky, though.

#8 Karolina Pliskova (2-3) — Considering she’s healthy, Pliskova has been the most disappointing player of the summer. Her usual dominant first serve has completely abandoned her to the tune of a 6% ace rate and a 58% first serve percentage. When she’s on her game, those numbers are closer to 10% and 68%, respectively.

#12 Garbine Muguruza (0-1) — She withdrew from the first two tournaments of the summer with an apparent right arm injury, which little is known about. She lost to Lesia Tsurenko in her only match this summer; I can’t imagine she arrives with peak fitness and/or confidence.

#16 Venus Williams (3-2) — Venus has had a disappointing year and perhaps age is finally catching up to the future Hall of Famer. The American also pulled out of Cincinnati with a knee injury.  In her defense, she’s made the quarterfinals here 12 times and is also one of only two players (Madison Keys) to make the US Open fourth-round in each of the past three years.

#17 Serena Williams (1-2) — Serena had a disappointing summer, failing to make it past the third-round in either of the two tournaments she entered, but that has never stopped her before. Also, she can take a lot of positives from her most recent loss to Kvitova. If she gets going out of the gates, look out.

#18 Ashleigh Barty (6-2) — Barty has played great tennis this summer — only losing two matches against the red-hot Halep. Excluding Simona, Barty has only lost one set this summer.

#27 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (2-2) — I don’t think Pavs has any chance to win this tournament, but she’s played quality tennis this summer. Ignore the misleading 2-2 record, as the Russian had two dominant wins as a favorite and forced both Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep to three sets.

#32 Maria Sakkari (5-3) — The 23-year-old Greek has a lot of potential and is already one of the Tour’s better defenders. She benefits from a beautiful draw that could help her reach the fourth-round for the first time at a major.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Cincinnati earlier this summer

Key H2H Records

(hard court record)

  • Muguruza 1-1 (1-1) vs. Shuai Zhang — first-round
  • Venus 5-5 (3-3) vs. Kuznetsova — first-round
  • Serena 17-12 (11-9) vs. Venus — potential third-round
  • Serena 6-2 (5-1) vs. Halep — potential fourth-round

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Moneyline Parlay Potential

  • Maria Sakkari (-465) vs. Asia Muhammad (+370)

Muhammad will make only her second career Grand Slam appearance and has never defeated a top-50 player. Sakkari’s superior hitting and defense should propel her to an easy victory.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Maria Sakkari at the 2017 US Open

Upset Alerts

  • Simona Halep (-650) vs. Kaia Kanepi (+475)
  • Garbine Muguruza (-355) vs. Shuai Zhang (+295)
  • Karolina Pliskova (-340) vs. Zarina Diyas (+280)

The No. 1 overall seed Halep did not receive any favors with her draw — starting with a first-round clash with two-time US Open quarterfinalist (2010, 2017) Kaia Kanepi. If Halep has any fatigue issues from a successful but grueling summer, the big-hitting Estonian could pull off the shocker.

Halep won their only previous meeting in 2014 (hard court), but it went to a third set tiebreaker. When Kanepi gets zoned in, she hits big and clips lines. She has taken down a top-10 player 10 times in her career, including once at the US Open (Jelena Jankovic). Kanepi also previously defeated a world No. 1 in a 2011 match against Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo (hard court).

Halep has also recently dealt with foot blisters. While they clearly didn’t affect her results and she did get rest after pulling out of New Haven, it’s something to at least monitor.

As I previously mentioned, Muguruza and Pliskova both have form concerns. Muguruza split two 2017 hard court meetings (both went three sets) with Zhang, who will grind out points and test Muguruza’s fitness.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Shuai Zhang at the 2017 US Open

Before you back Zhang, please consider that she played the Asian Games in Indonesia last week. That consisted of five matches over five days through Friday night (NYC time). After you factor in the travel, fatigue could be a real issue — especially since she’s scheduled for early Monday afternoon.

Pliskova has soundly beaten Zarina Diyas in two career meetings, but the Czech doesn’t deserve that high of a price tag given her current serve struggles and lack of confidence.

Futures Value

I don’t see much futures value in the top section which features both Halep and Serena — the two tourney betting favorites. I’m more interested in taking a shot on a Kaia Kanepi upset of Halep in the first-round.

I think the bottom half of this quarter offers more futures value with how vulnerable Muguruza and Pliskova have looked lately. If you didn’t back Barty to win the tournament (as we did), I would look hard at +800 to win this quarter.

Barty has some early potential tricky tests against Ons Jabeur and Lucie Safarova, but I trust the 22-year-old Aussie’s talent. She has split two career meetings against Muguruza (both went three sets) and has won two of three against Pliskova.

If she does end up meeting Halep in the quarterfinals, it’s worth noting that Barty was a +200 underdog in both of their matches this summer. That would offer a nice hedge opportunity if desired.

First-Round Best Bets

  • Kanepi +475 (0.5 unit)
  • Zhang +295 (0.5 unit)
  • Diyas +280 (0.5 unit)
  • Safarova-Martic Over 22 (-110)

In regards to the total, neither player will be able to dominate on serve. You can expect long, grinding points and plenty of breaks. Two of their three career meetings went three sets.


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