TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) has enjoyed a great US Open. Here's his take on Monday's action from Day 8 at Flushing Meadows.
Yesterday Sloane Stephens scored an impressive victory over Elise Mertens as expected. Stephens is a better player than the over-hyped Mertens, who in fairness is making the most of her talent, but is no match for an in-form elite player like Stephens.
Day 8 will witness the final Round of 16 clashes. The one I am most interested in personally is Aryna Sabalenka versus Naomi Osaka.
I backed Osaka outright, and a win in this match would give me a strong hand heading into the latter rounds. Sabalenka is on a brilliant run of form and starts as the favourite.
However, I give Osaka a decent chance of coming through that one. Whilst that match offers me no betting temptation on Monday, there are a couple of matches where I have found interesting angles for potential plays.
Marketa Vondrousova v Lesia Tsurenko | Monday 3rd September 2018, 1900 | Amazon Prime
In this Round of 16 match I am backing Marketa Vondrousova (8/5 Unibet) – something I wouldn’t have imagined a month ago when I watched her petulantly self-destruct in Gstaad.
The young Czech has obvious talent best expressed by the fact that after only a handful of main tour matches the then 17-year-old started the 2017 French Open as 10th favourite in the outright market such was the impression she left having steamrolled her way to a couple of WTA titles.
Expectations have cooled since then as Vondrousova has struggled with fitness and also with finding a level of consistency in her game, which is unsurprising for a young player.
This week Vondrousova has beaten established tour players – Mona Barthel, Eugenie Bouchard and most impressively the in form Kiki Bertens. Against Bertens, Vondrousova played with a great deal of variety and she won the match in a final set tie breaker to suggest her sometimes questionable mental strength is in one of its better moments and that she is unfazed by playing in a big time match.
Lesia Tsurenko deserves to start this match as a favourite as she is a proven commodity on a hard court, but with Vondrousova’s potential she is capable of winning this.
It is no surprise to me that Lesia Tsurenko is in the Round of 16 at the US Open. She had a friendly draw thanks mainly to the poor fitness of Caroline Wozniacki and she has made light work of her early couple of rounds.
Tsurenko won very comfortably against Katerina Siniakova last time out, but that was all Siniakova’s doing. The mad Czech disintegrated with an endless stream of errors, with Tsurenko only required to maintain a solid level on the other side of the net.
The Ukranian is happy to do that all day but should Vondrousova bring a decent level Tsurenko will be challenged into doing a bit more this time out.
Furthermore, I believe that Tsurenko has to be taken on as she is carrying a significant arm injury that has hampered her serving performance in the past couple of rounds. This has not been exploited by either the unfit Wozniacki or Siniakova, but it is surely unsustainable for Tsurenko to survive much longer in this tournament without a decent serve.
I am backing the player with great potential to overcome the steady Tsurenko. Back Vondrousova at 8/5 with Unibet.
Marin Cilic v David Goffin | Monday 3rd September 2018, 1900 | Amazon Prime
In my second pick of the day I am siding with another outsider – David Goffin (15/8 BetBright) – to upset Marin Cilic.
In recent seasons Cilic has made a knack of surviving tough matches in the Grand Slams and it has eventually helped him progress to a couple of Grand Slam finals. The Croatian has a big imposing game and has the ability to hit all but a few players off the court when he has form.
David Goffin is the opponent for Cilic and to quote the Belgian, “Cilic is the complete opposite of me.” The pair have met 5 times before and it is Goffin who leads the head to head 3/2. In Cilic’s two victories there were extenuating circumstances.
In their most recent meeting last season on the clay courts in Rome Goffin was carrying an abductor injury. In the time before that Cilic required a victory – on an indoor surface where the Croat tends to play his best tennis – to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals.
In the three meetings that Goffin won there was a strong match up advantage for him. Goffin is a master at exploiting the weak movement of the giants in tennis as he has impeccable timing on his strokes and a talent for hitting down the line shots that can put a player like Cilic easily off balance.
Cilic comes into this match having survived an upset at the hands of Alex de Minaur, a youngster with a bright future, but who plays a consistent counter punching style from the back of the court. Goffin can play that role well, and has more experience than de Minaur.
If Cilic’s last match was a guide to how this one might play out then you have to think Goffin has a good chance of beating him. Goffin has yet to be tested this tournament but he made a good run in Cincinnati to suggest his form is strong.
All in all, he has to be played at his current price. Goffin to win is 15/8 with BetBright.