TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) returns with a look at the ante-post markets ahead of the US Open from Flushing Meadows.
WTA US Open | 27th August – 9th September 2018 | Amazon Prime
When the US Open draw was made last Thursday all eyes were watching to see where Serena Williams (13/2 Ladbrokes) would land in the draw. The all-conquering American was revealed to be in the first quarter, alongside a host of outright contenders headed by world number one Simona Halep.
French Open champion Halep has shown no sign of complacency following her debut Grand Slam success by putting her foot on the gas during the big summer hardcourt events, from which she emerged as the player to beat having won Montreal and finishing runner-up in Cincinnati.
Williams, on the other hand, has still to find the top level that everybody is expecting to see her produce following her return to tour. The results during the US hard court season did not materialise for Venus – who suffered the most one-sided defeat of her long career to Johanna Konta.
However, despite also losing early in Cincinnati to Petra Kvitova, Williams looked more like her old self. Furthermore, Williams’ Wimbledon result shows that the cream will rise to the top and her record in New York suggests it will take a special player to stop her – having made at least the semi-final in her previous five entries.
Plotting the draw
Market leaders Halep (13/2 10BET) and Williams should make it through their first three matches setting up a pivotal clash in the Round of 16 that will see the victor emerge as the outright favourite.
However, the winner of that high profile encounter should not be considered home and dry as they will still have to emerge past one of several top level players if they are to make the semi-finals.
Talents such as Garbine Muguruza, Ashleigh Barty, Maria Sakkari or Karolina Pliskova await the winner of the Williams/Barty blockbuster encounter. With that in mind I believe there is value to be had in other quarters of the draw.
Look outside the 1st Quarter
Seventh seed Elina Svitolina (20/1 188BET) is a player that I have not warmed to despite her rise to a prominent world ranking. The Ukrainian has proven very adept at winning second tier level events but her negative playing style is often exploited by an on-form power hitter in the big events.
However, Svitolina has landed herself a kind draw. The top seed in her quarter is defending champion Sloane Stephens, and the American may feel the pressure of defending her prize.
At 20/1, an each-way selection of Svitolina should give a decent run for our money.
The bottom half of the draw looks open and I believe there is value in an unexpected finalist. There are several credible names worthy of consideration including Naomi Osaka, Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina in the 4th Quarter.
The young trio will contend for major titles in years to come, but right now I will chance the highest ranked of the three – Kasatkina – as a 33/1 (Bet365) each-way selection.