Andy Schooler continues his look at the US Open 2019 betting by previewing the women’s singles draw for which he has a 14/1 headline tip and a 200/1 outsider.
We are in a remarkable period for women’s tennis.
The last 11 Grand Slam tournaments have produced nine different champions, six of which have been maiden winners.
Despite this fact, the story arc coming into the 2019 US Open will very much – again – be centred on Serena Williams, the 5/1 favourite who is still one title shy of Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles victories.
Williams was the first of those 11 winners – back in January 2017. She’s become a mother in the intervening period but since her return to the court she’s lost three Grand Slam finals, including last year’s in New York when her row with umpire Carlos Ramos made almost literally all the headlines.
Serena feels the pressure
The pressure of record-chasing has arguably been evident. That certainly seemed to be the case here four years ago when Williams was seeking the calendar-year Grand Slam but lost miserably to Roberta Vinci in the semi-finals.
She may be a six-time winner at her home Grand Slam – the first of those coming 20 years ago, the last in 2014 – but her visits to New York have also been littered with behaviour which suggests she does feel the pressure of expectation.
As well as last year’s incidents during her match with Naomi Osaka, there was the famous lineswoman incident of 2009, while in 2011 she rowed with another umpire as she was upset by Sam Stosur.
Add in the fact that Williams was last seen limping out of the Toronto final with a back problem and you have a shaky market leader.
Other towards the top of the market also look ripe for taking on.
Simona Halep has struggled, relatively speaking, since her Wimbledon triumph and was also injured (leg) in Toronto, while top seed Oaska quit in Cincinnati with a knee issue.
Neither has French Open champ Ash Barty been at her best during the hardcourt summer, failing to make the final in either Toronto or Cincy, so I would not be at all surprised for yet another maiden winner to emerge over the next fortnight.
Andreescu has what it takes
Certainly my approach to the event will be to throw some darts at some longer shots – one that almost paid off at the French Open when 80/1 chance Amanda Anisimova lost agonisingly in the semi-finals.
I’ll start by tipping Bianca Andreescu for the title at 14/1.
If anyone doesn’t deserve to be heading to New York under the Williams shadow it is the young Canadian, for she has enjoyed a truly sensational last 12 months.
She has risen from outside the world’s top 200 to a position where she is now seeded 15th.
In 2019, she’s posted a 27-4 win-loss record, a run which has taken in big titles in Indian Wells and Toronto.
Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber were all beaten in the former. Kiki Bertens and Karolina Pliskova were among her victims in the latter.
Had Andreescu’s season not been interrupted by a shoulder injury which kept her out for several months, I suspect she’d be going off half of her current price.
Injury remains a potential concern – Andreescu had “groin issues” after winning Toronto – but she said this week: “I have prepared very well physically and mentally the last two-and-a-half weeks, so I’m feeling fresh for the US Open.
“I didn’t expect anything to come this quickly, but I do believe that I’m capable of doing big things.
“After coming from the win in Toronto, I’m feeling pretty confident. I love playing on hardcourts.”
The Canadian looks to have maturity beyond her years with little seeming to faze her.
Having been placed in a decent part of the draw, the second quarter in which Halep looks her biggest threat, Andreescu gets the vote.
Kenin showing the signs
Down in the bottom half, I’m also going to back Sofia Kenin, another player with strong claims of becoming a maiden Grand Slam winner some time soon.
The American took down Serena at the French Open earlier this season and has since built strongly on that result.
In recent weeks she’s reached the semis in both Toronto and Cincinnati, defeating Barty in the former and an admittedly-injured Osaka in the latter.
Interestingly, she beat Elina Svitolina in both events and the pair could meet again here in the last 16.
Before then, Kenin could have to get through Cincy champion Madison Keys but while she’s a very dangerous player on a good day, weeks like the one in Cincinnati have been far too infrequent during Keys’ career with her big-hitting game falling apart too often.
Kenin’s more composed approach has been working well and she looks to be improving into a player ready to challenge at this highest level.
Back her each-way at 22/1.
I’m also taking a back-up in this section of the draw by adding Dayana Yastremska to win the quarter to the coupon.
I mentioned the young Ukrainian in my pre-draw ‘outsiders’ preview and now, given the draw she’s had, I can’t resist getting involved somehow.
— Michal Samulski (@MichalSamulski) August 22, 2019
Her warm-up events have brought wins over Jo Konta and Caroline Wozniacki, with defeats to Kenin and Cincinnati finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova (from match point up). It’s decent form.
None of the big guns will want to face her ball-striking ability, including potential third-round foe Svitolina, who has been struggling for form.
Yastremska and Kenin could meet in round four so it’s just a small saver at 14/1.
200/1 outside chance
Finally I’m going to take a real long shot with Su-Wei Hsieh in the bottom quarter, one occupied by Serena, Barty and another of my pre-draw mentions, Anastasija Sevastova.
The type of tennis Hsieh produces is often describe as ‘junk’ but that’s really a disrespectful description for what is a unique creative approach, one that can baffle some of the best in the world.
I really don’t think Williams would relish facing the Taiwanese in round three given her current state.
Hsieh has been impressing on the hardcourts this year, starting off with a semi-final run in Auckland before repeating the trick in Dubai with victories over Sevastova, Kerber and Pliskova.
Then in Miami she beat Oaska and Wozniacki en route to the last eight.
Those are some eye-catching results and I simply can resist a small, each-way punt at odds of 200/1.