WTA Washington Tennis Picks & Previews: Jessica Pegula Won’t Dominate Match Against Hailey Baptiste (August 1)

WTA Washington Tennis Picks & Previews: Jessica Pegula Won’t Dominate Match Against Hailey Baptiste (August 1) article feature image

Mike Owen/Getty. Pictured: Hailey Baptiste plays a backhand at the Australian Open.

  • WTA players are looking at Washington as a hard-court warmup event for the upcoming US Open.
  • Our analyst has found value on a pair of Monday matches.
  • David Gertler breaks down a pair of matches and offers up his best bets below.

The US Open is coming up and WTA players are looking at Washington as a great hard-court warmup event.

I’ve found betting value for two matches on Monday and provide my best bets and full breakdowns below.

Note: Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.

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Jessica Pegula (-770) vs. Hailey Baptiste(+470)

2 p.m. ET

Jessica Pegula is comfortable in Washington, having defeated Camila Giorgi to win the title in 2019. Additionally, Pegula has had a lot of hard-court success this season, reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and semifinals of the WTA 1000 event in Miami. The American is 207-124 on hard courts in her career and 12-8 on the season.

Pegula hasn't played since losing in the third round of Wimbledon. Her game suits hard courts well as she has flatter groundstrokes that cut through the court. She also understands the right time to come to the net. However, Pegula can become erratic when she's rushed and taken out of her comfort zone, which has been the case during numerous losses this season.

Hailey Baptiste hasn't played since injuring herself in the first round of Roland Garros after qualifying for the tournament. Baptiste, however, is 58-42 as a professional on hard courts and, like Pegula, is 12-8 in 2022. It's also important to note that Washington D.C. is Baptiste's hometown and she will have plenty of crowd support and motivation to succeed.

Baptiste plays an aggressive style. She attacks whenever she can and has a big forehand that she utilizes to control the baseline. Baptiste is also very willing to come to the net and has a great variety, disrupting opponents' baseline rhythm.

Baptiste's first serve is also a strong shot as the American has won at least 70% of her first-serve points in four of her past five completed WTA matches. However, Baptiste's rally tolerance is not very high and her fitness is not great.

This match will feature first-strike tennis with both players looking to get on the front foot. Baptiste will likely have some rust, but she can win some free points on her serve, which will take some pressure off her baseline game.

Baptiste's style won't allow Pegula to find a rhythm from the baseline. Pegula will feel rushed and be in defensive positions during many points and will, at times, struggle to dictate play.

Pick: Baptiste +6.5 Games (-150 via PointsBet)

Elise Mertens (-200) vs. Liudmilla Samsonova (+160)

8:15 p.m. ET

Elise Mertens kicked off her summer hard-court season with a thud against Magda Linette in Prague, falling in three sets. Mertens only won 52% of her service points, including only 38% on her second serve, which was especially important given that she only put 52% of her first serves into play. The Belgian had to defend 13 break points and was broken eight times.

Despite the loss to Linette, Mertens is still 252-126 on hard courts in her career, although she's just 10-8 on the year. While Mertens' consistency and movement are impressive, while in Prague she followed a recent trend of playing very passive from the baseline. Mertens hit safe groundstrokes and was, generally, erratic when she tried to take risks during points.

Liudmilla Samsonova hasn't played since losing in the first round of Bad Homburg to Kamilla Rakhimova. However, while grass is the Russian's best surface, she's very competent on hard courts. Her career record on hard courts is 89-56, despite going just 6-7 this season.

Samsonova can take the racquet out of her opponents' hands with her aggressive style of play.  Samsonova has won over two-thirds of her first serves in her past six matches. She also tries to play offense whenever she can and has a huge forehand that can power through her opponents.

Mertens' rally tolerance and movement will frustrate Samsonova at times, but I think the Russian has the weapons to make Mertens very uncomfortable.

Samsonova has the clear advantage with her first serve and will get many more free points compared to Mertens with her first delivery. In addition, Mertens does not have the weapons to hurt Samsonova from the baseline, allowing her the time to tee off on the Belgian's safe groundstrokes.

Given her struggles in Prague, I also don't trust Mertens' current ability to effectively put away shorter balls.

Pick: Samsonova +3.5 Games (-115 via BetMGM)

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