Women’s US Open Tennis Early Preview

by Joseph Harris
on August 7, 2017

The final major of a tumultuous and wide-open WTA Tour season is just three weeks away, and just like the two prior Major Championships sans-Serena, the betting is completely chaotic. No women are currently listed lower than +600, and once again, more than a dozen women are better than +2500. Where a whopping 16 women have a puncher’s chance of hoisting the trophy, none are discernibly set apart from the rest.

Among them are three Americans; Madison Keys at some of the higher-end odds, the enigmatic Coco Vandeweghe, and the two-time former champion, Venus Williams. Of course, if Serena wasn’t pregnant and in the draw, these odds would become exponentially longer for all but a few of the top dozen. It’s pretty spectacular that a woman who won the US Open SIXTEEN YEARS AGO is just 14/1 to do it again… Typically, if there is a reference on television to a champion sixteen years prior, it is a joking playful jab to the broadcasting partner, followed by a clip of them in some no longer fashionable attire playing with chunky equipment that elicits a playful smile… this year? That reference will be to someone who could very well (and SHOULD) earn the single-digit seed and be favored all the way to the quarters at a minimum, depending on how the bracket unfolds.

Here are the Current Odds (current as of August 6th – and keep in mind, odds will move a bit as we approach the tournament, as well as when the draw is released a few days prior to the beginning of the US Open.

WOMEN’S US OPEN ODDS:

  • Garbine Muguruza +600
  • Karolina Pliskova +650
  • Victoria Azarenka +700
  • Maria Sharapova +800
  • Johanna Konta +800
  • Angelique Kerber +900
  • Simona Halep +900
  • Petra Kvitova +1400
  • Venus Williams +1400
  • Jelena Ostapenko +1600
  • Elina Svitolina +1600
  • Coco Vandeweghe +2000
  • Madison Keys +2200
  • Carolina Wozniacki +2500
  • Agnieszka Radwanska +2500
  • Kristina Mladenovic +3300

Other Notables:

  • Sloane Stephens +4000
  • Timea Bascinszky +6600
  • Eugenie Bouchard +5000
  • Ana Konjuh +10000

A lot of true value will emerge once the very muddled draw comes out in three weeks, but with so many evenly matched players in the field, it is nice to take a look at some early value.

FAVORITES:

Garbine Muguruza +600

For starters, Muguruza is fresh off her first Wimbledon Championship, a dominating win over Venus Williams with a 6-0 second set finishing blow. It was her second Major win, and she became the first women to ever beat both Willams’ sisters in the Major Finals – a record likely to stand forever. Her confidence should be sky high; she’s just now edging towards the beginning of her prime and she enters the US Open in great shape. However, the US Open hasn’t been a strong tournament for her historically, owing just a paltry 33% winning percentage. Her only two wins have come in the first round in the last two US Opens.

She had previously dropped out of the Top Ten rankings (CBS Sports.com), but winning Wimbledon has vaulted her all the way up to #4. She’s an excellent player, but with her stunningly bad US Record (She has a 74% winning percentage in the Majors, but a 33% in New York) her +600 odds just aren’t enough value for me.

MY PICK: Garbine Muguruza – PASS

Karolina Pliskova +650

She ruined a lot of optimistic wagerer’s day with her stunning second round upset at the All England. Prior to that, she had been gaining some serious momentum, capturing the #1 WTA World Ranking on the strength of wins in Qatar and Brisbane, as well as a semifinal appearance at Roland Garros. She has already knocked off Ostapenko, Svitolina, Wozniacki (twice), Vandeweghe and Muguruza in 2017. I’d like her to bounce back from a few recent early exits. She is the defending runner-up at the US Open but is in even better form than last September when she ran into a red-hot Angelique Kerber in the Finals.

MY PICK: Karolina Pliskova – BUY

Angelique Kerber +900

 2016 was quite an amazing year for Kerber. The 29-year old German won two Major Championships, including the US Open and vaulted to the #1 WTA Work Ranking this Spring. But as great as 2016 was for Kerber, 2017 has been as frustrating. She surrendered the #1 World Ranking a few months ago and has yet to advance to even a quarterfinal in a Major in 2017. She was most recently bounced in the fourth round at Wimbledon by eventual champion Garbine Muguruza (tough draw for Kerber, frankly, and not an embarrassing loss), but the French Open is the one that made some history – for the wrong reasons. She became the first overall #1 seed to lose their first round in a Major in the Open Era.

I don’t think the US Open will prove embarrassing, but I’m also not willing to bet on Kerber magically regaining her form, especially at the steep price of just +900.

MY PICK: ANGELIQUE KERBER — PASS

Maria Sharapova +800

Name recognition, sentimentality, etc. Those are the main reasons why Sharapova is just a +800 favorite to win the US Open. It has NOTHING to do with either her current form or health. In fact, don’t be surprised if she doesn’t even PLAY in the event. She just pulled out of another tournament due to an injury, and even with a bevy of sponsor’s exemptions, she just hasn’t been able to get on the court very often since her suspension was lifted.

Yes, she has won here before (2006) and she is a five-time Major Champion with an 81% career winning percentage in the Majors. But she just isn’t healthy and hasn’t played enough tennis in the last two years to realistically think she can win the entire tournament in New York for the first time in a decade. The US Open is also her worst Major. She has only advanced past the fourth round once since her 2006 victory; easily her worst results of the four Majors.

MY PICK: Maria Sharapova – PASS!

Simona Halep +900

I have been high on Halep most of the 2017 season and had her tabbed as my “most likely to capitalize on Serena’s absence” list. It almost paid dividends in Paris, as she made it all the way to a set up in the Final before losing to young Jelena Ostapenko. Wimbledon was a little more disappointing, losing in the fourth round. However, she is up to #2 in the World Rankings and trails only Venus in the 2017 money rankings.

She has fared well in her last two US Open’s, advancing to the semifinals and quarterfinals respectively. She will look to take that success a round or two further this time in a very winnable field, with a diminished Sharapova (who beat her in the French Open Finals in 2014) or Serena Williams, who dominated the hard courts of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Halep is a nice value at +900 and is getting somewhat overlooked given her well-suited game for hard court surfaces. She is a powerful player who is good at hitting winners from defensive positions and strong enough to play powerfully from deep in the court. She also makes very few errors. I like her chances to make a deep run next month.

MY PICK: Simona Halep — BUY

SLEEPERS

Jelena Ostapenko +1600

This kid seems to bring her best effort on the biggest stage. She hasn’t gotten past the third round of any tournament in her career, aside from the last two Majors, the quarters at Wimbledon and of course, winning at Roland Garros. She has a big serve and youthful energy that might not be as sapped as some of her tired foes at the end of a long season.

Ostapenko is an aggressive, fearless player. In the French Open Final against the heavily favored Simona Halep, Ostapenko hit 54 winners and 54 unforced errors, while Halep had 8 winner and 10 unforced errors.

That kind of aggressive “go big or go home” style should enthrall an already rowdy New York City crowd.

MY PICK: Jelena Ostapenko – BUY

Coco Vandeweghe +2500

The brash American has the capability to put together some deep runs in Major tournaments, as evidenced by her recent quarterfinal run at Wimbledon and her earlier semifinal appearance at the Aussie. She has BIG game and the 25-year old New Yorker will be the obvious crowd favorite. Expect some raucous crowds if she can find her way under the lights at Arthur Ashe. She falls outside the Top Ten, but has seven wins over Top Ten players in the last year and a half. A lot will depend on the draw, but Coco absolutely has the game to make a fun run in NYC.

However, the not-so-fun reality check… She has been a favorite NYC daughter for her whole career, but it hasn’t translated on the court in the City. She is just 4-8 lifetime at the US Open and has never made it past the second round in her somewhat established career…

MY PICK: Coco Vandeweghe – PASS (It feels like she should be a better value, but her career at the Open says stay away)

Venus Williams +1400

Because why the heck not?? The ageless wonder has vaulted back into the Top Ten in the WTA World Rankings and is #1 in 2017 on the money list. NUMBER ONE. She has posted a 15-3 record in the Majors this season and has already made two FINALS. Bet against her at your own peril, my friends. She last won this tournament in 2001 – and no woman in the main draw even PLAYED in that event. So her longevity is an obvious marvel, but don’t let that prevent you from considering her a real threat to capture one last moment of magic on home soil. The US Open is famous for producing these types of magic moments for aging American tennis heroes (Jimmy Connors, Agassi, Sampras).  Perhaps we can get a fairytale ending on the ladies side of the draw in 2017…

MY PICK: Venus Williams – BUY

Like every women’s Major this season since Serena announced her sabbatical, the US Open is obviously wide open. The odds will continue to move and fluctuate as the next two tournaments (especially Cincinnati) give us a nice hard court preview, as well as the current health and form of the top players. It will be important to keep an eye on health updates (especially players like Sharapova) over the next two or three weeks.  We will be back after the draw with an in-depth look at some of the potential matchups and paths to glory.

The US Open begins August 28th, with the Women’s Final on Saturday, September 9th.
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