WTA Washington, D.C., Futures Betting, Plus Three Monday Underdogs

WTA Washington, D.C., Futures Betting, Plus Three Monday Underdogs article feature image

Presse Sports-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Belinda Bencic

Good news for tennis bettors in the U.S., as the second hard-court swing of the season gets underway today with tournaments in Washington, D.C., and San Jose, California. That should mean a more normal sleep schedule, and daytime action to help bridge the gap to the U.S. Open — and football.

Play gets underway at 2 p.m. ET in the nation’s capital, which hosts the Citi Open for the seventh straight year. Take a look at the previous finals matchups in what has been a very entertaining tourney:

Expect the unexpected in D.C., where no winner has been seeded higher than seven. The most accomplished winner, Sloane Stephens, took the 2015 trophy as an unseeded player in her tour coming-out party. This tournament sets up perfectly for another middle-tier or up-and-coming player to break through.

I wagered on two nicely priced futures and also fancy three underdogs on Monday’s card. Let’s get into it.

Draw Overview: Top Half

The top half features No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki (+275), who lost in the second round (Samantha Stosur) in her only previous appearance here in 2016. However, the Dane was in terrible form then, so don’t expect the same performance. Woz does have a very favorable draw with Aleksandra Krunic (+2500) as the No. 5 seed in her section.

The other two seeded players in the top half are Naomi Osaka (+700) and Donna Vekic (+2000). Vekic is in top form, but I would favor Osaka if the two meet in the quarterfinals. Osaka won their only previous meeting in straight sets on another hard court at the 2016 Australian Open.

Osaka’s style should excel on this surface. Strong, flat hitters do well in D.C., and that is exactly what Osaka does best. If on her game, she should have no trouble in her first two matches. She did lose both previous meetings against Wozniacki in straight sets, but I think Osaka can continue her excellent 2018 hard-court play this week.

Draw Analysis: Bottom Half

This more-intriguing half of the draw features plenty of players who can win the tourney. Defending champion and No. 4 seed Ekaterina Makarova (+1600) is in poor form, but can pop at any time. The Russian won last year after also arriving without any form — and has made the semis in all four appearances in D.C.

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However, Makarova has a tricky first-round opponent in Ana Bogdan (+4000) before potentially facing nemesis Svetlana Kuznetsova (+2000) — who is 7-1 vs. Makarova, including six straight wins.

No. 8 seed Yulia Putintseva (+2500) joins Makarova as the other seed in that section. It’s always difficult to predict Putintseva, who can frustrate opponents with her scrappy, defensive style. She has the potential to win big matches, but could just as easily lose in the first round to Tatjana Maria (+2800).

The other two seeds in the bottom half are Sloane Stephens (+400) and Belinda Bencic (+1600). The oft-injured Bencic has all of the tools and looked solid at Wimbledon. Stephens has become more of a big-game hunter, excelling at majors. And while she’s certainly dangerous, I don’t see any value at 4-1. A potential Stephens-Bencic quarterfinal would feature two of the best point constructors on tour.

Other Names to Watch

Sofya Zhuk (no odds): The Russian teenager plays her best tennis on a hard court and soundly beat Deniz Khazaniuk and Mayo Hibi in qualifying. A surprise package who could upset a seed or two.

Natalia Vikhlyantseva (+2800): I’ve always really liked her strong, aggressive play, but she’s just never put all the pieces together. Her game can become very erratic during a match, but she does have a decent draw with Jennifer Brady and then the winner of Putintseva-Maria.

Recommended Futures

Naomi Osaka (+700): She has all the talent in the world and showed at Indian Wells that she can put it together at a top-tier event. She’ll have to stay more patient in a potential semifinal clash with Wozniacki, but it’s a winnable match. Value at 7-1 for sure.

Belinda Bencic (+1600): I’ve loved Bencic’s game since seeing her quarterfinal run at the 2014 U.S. Open. While she may not beat Osaka, the match would be very competitive, so I can’t pass up these odds. I price Bencic closer to +1100, making +1600 a worthy investment.

Monday R1 Outlook

I see a few underdogs who could potentially pull off upsets against out-of-form favorites. I’ll highlight a few, and close with the three I bet.

  • Svetlana Kuznetsova (-240) vs. Kristie Ahn (2 p.m. ET): In the twilight of her career at age 33, Kuznetsova has struggled (4-10) since returning from injury in March. She did win this tourney in 2014, but she is a much different player right now. Ahn prefers hard courts, and +200 is too high given current forms.
  • Andrea Petkovic (-225) vs. Jamie Loeb (2:30 p.m. ET): I make Petko, who hasn’t been great this year, only a -150 favorite. Capable on a hard court, Loeb holds value in what will likely go three sets. Petkovic won their only previous meeting (2-6, 6-1, 6-3) in 2017.
  • Allie Kiick (-325) vs. Xinyun Han (2:30 p.m. ET): Kiick arrives in good form, but leaves her preferred clay surface. Meanwhile, Han is not on form and comes off a disappointing second-round exit in Nanchang last week. But the line is still too high, as Kiick should never be a -325 favorite on this surface. If Han has any serve, she can pull off the upset. Kiick did win a competitive match (7-5, 6-4) in their only hard-court meeting last November.
  • Donna Vekic (-210) vs. Caroline Dolehide (8 p.m. ET): Vekic is in career form after a great grass-court season, but doesn’t thrive on hard courts. Dolehide can absolutely mash the ball — although she defaulted in the $60K Ashland ITF tournament Friday. Her movement looked fine in a practice video I watched, but she did have a minor brace on her right ankle.
  • Fanny Stollar (-120) vs. Mayo Hibi (8 p.m. ET): Stollar has struggled in her young career on hard courts, where Hibi excels. I have this as a true coin flip, so it’s either Hibi or pass at this line.

Monday Washington Bets

Kristie Ahn +200
Jamie Loeb +185
Xinyun Han +259 (half unit)