TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) has enjoyed a great US Open. Here’s his take on Thursday night’s action from Day 11 at Flushing Meadows.
We had another profitable day on Wednesday as Kei Nishikori got the better of Marin Cilic. It was far from the most pleasant of matches to watch with neither player impressing for the majority of the contest.
Cilic in particular was poor, losing all quality in his attacking play under pressure. But, as we landed a winner who are we to complain?
In the other match I thought Carla Suarez Navarro would have a chance at once again pushing Madison Keys close but it didn’t materialise as planned. Keys was impressive as she ably controlled her destiny with strong serving and consistent power hitting in the rallies, and wasn’t seduced into making errors under pressure as had been decisive in the Spaniard’s victories over Mladenovic, Garcia and Sharapova.
Thursday is women’s semif-inals day and whilst one match looks more certain, the second could go either way. I’ve tried to find an angle I feel confident in when Madison Keys and Naomi Osaka take to the court, but I’m struggling.
I have a 33/1 outright position on Osaka, and although she justifiably starts as a narrow outsider, I think she has a good chance to win.
Without the outright position on Osaka I’d be more keen on her price in that match but I still don’t think I’d feel comfortable backing it.
That brings us on to the first semi-final between Serena Williams – who I also advised an outright stake on – vs Anastasija Sevastova.
Serena Williams vs Anastasija Sevastova | Friday 7th September 2018, 00:00 | Amazon Prime
You have to give Anastasija Sevastova a great deal of credit for making the semi-final. The Latvian plays an attractive game full of variety and has beaten an impressive list of players to make this stage. Ekaterina Makarova, Elina Svitolina and Sloane Stephens all fell to Sevastova.
This however is unprecedented – and by the sounds of her post-match media comments – unexpected ground for her to be standing on. Sevastova bluntly stated that she only expected to make the quarterfinal.
She richly deserved her straight sets victory over Sloane Stephens, but it must be considered that Stephens wasn’t firing on all cylinders as she complained post-match of having a viral infection.
Serena Williams is looking good and the oddsmakers don’t expect her to have any trouble in defeating Sevastova as she starts around the 1/5 mark. And to be honest, it’s hard to disagree.
Serena is holding serve 90% of the time and breaking in 50% of her return games. Sevastova obviously also comes into this match with strong form stats but, she is giving up 0.8bps per service game and even though the scoreline against Stephens looked convincing she faced a total of 9 breakpoints. Against Serena any weakness will be punished.
The pair have never played before, but it is hard to imagine that Sevastova has a playing style that should trouble Serena. The American will hold the dominant groundstrokes on the court and Sevastova won’t find it so easy to dictate play with her variety.
Furthermore, this will be a nervy occasion for Sevastova. Even when 4/1 up and comfortable against Stephens she lost her form and said post-match, “I lost my nerves a little bit.”
There doesn’t appear to be any reason for anything other than a comfortable Serena Williams victory. Although the odds are the lowest I’ve suggested in these articles since the start of the tournament, Serena to win 2 sets to 0 looks a solid enough bet.
It’s 4/6 with Betway.
Serena Williams v Anastasija Sevastova – Serena Williams to win 2-0 (4/6 Betway)