With the first wave of quarterfinals in the books, the remaining four semifinalists will be crowned throughout the day in what promises to be fantastic showdowns. We’ll see the quest for a new Major champion continue on the men’s side, with NextGen star Alex De Minaur up against the now second oldest remaining player in no. 3 seed Dominic Thiem.
An all-Russian derby is also on the cards with in-form Andrey Rublev taking on new tournament favorite Daniil Medvedev. On the women’s side, Serena Williams’ quest for the magical 24th major continues against surprise comeback quarterfinalist Tsvetana Pironkova. We’ll also see another rejuvenated Belarusian take the court with Victoria Azarenka up against Elise Mertens.
We’re nearing the end of the tournament and value becomes trickier to find, so let’s navigate our way to some spots where our tennis picks give us value. Let’s begin!
Andrey Rublev(10) vs. Daniil Medvedev(3)
Wednesday, September 09, 2020 – 01:15 PM EDT – New York
One of the sensations of the tournament has been the form displayed by Andrey Rublev. The 2017 quarterfinalist has once more made it back to this stage, as a significantly stronger player in all aspects of the game. Known as quite an emotional player, the 22-year old Russian has worked on acceptance in recent years, allowing him to accept what happens on the court instead of getting frustrated and imploding. Possessing ferocious ball-striking ability, especially from his preferred forehand wing, Rublev blasted through his first three rounds in three sets.
Up against the big-hitting Matteo Berrettini in the Last 16, top sportsbooks made the Russian the +100 underdog. Soundly defeated by the Italian at the same stage at this very tournament last year, Andrey was once more in trouble early. After being overpowered by Berrettini and losing the first set, the 22-year old started getting a better read on his opponent’s serve, working his way into the match admirably. As the Russian grew, the Italian tensed up and faded in a four-set win.
The new tournament favorite after Novak Djokovic’s default is now Daniil Medvedev, who the top sportsbooks rate as the +150 chance to lift the trophy. At this time last year, the 24-year old Russian was on an incredible winning streak. Even when running on fumes and turning the US Open crowd against him after angrily snatching away a towel, Medvedev would make the final, his fourth in succession.
Despite his lanky 6’6 frame, the world no. 5 routinely commits to an all-out baseline grind. Building up a defensive wall near impossible to get through, while using an unorthodox technique to suddenly inject pace into the ball, few can live with the Russian when in-form. We’ve seen this materialize this fortnight, with four straight-set victories accomplished with ease, the latest victim being Frances Tiafoe who could last only 100 minutes.
This pair has plenty of history, and have played on a fair few occasions growing up. Rublev described that time in the interview leading up to to this contest:
“Both of us were crazy on court (laughter). Destroying the racquets, complaining…
Yeah, what I remember from him, he was always one of the biggest fighter that I ever saw in my life since he was, I don’t know, seven years old. He could play lobs maybe hours just to win. I don’t know. I remember we had few battles when we were completely kids, so yeah.”
The younger Russian has yet to defeat Medvedev across three career meetings, and there are plenty of reasons as to why. Lacking the incredible ability to build a baseline wall as well as having a more exploitable serve, the avenue to victory is much smaller for Rublev. With his opponent having the ability to both overpower, serve his way out of trouble, or stubbornly refuse to make a single error, it’s tough to see a way for the 22-year old to crack the code to beat his two-year senior on this occasion.
The major sportsbooks line up Medvedev in the -333 range, with Rublev a +260 shot. With Daniil able to come through all previous meetings in straight sets and a similar outcome likely here, the -5 games at -114 with BookMaker appeals.
Victoria Azarenka vs. Elise Mertens (16)
Wednesday, September 09, 2020 – 07:00 PM EDT – New York
It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen the two-time Major champion and former world no.1 exhibit this kind of form. Victoria Azarenka once more looks back to her blinding best. After giving birth to her son Leo in 2016 and going through a bitter custody battle with his father the year after, the Belarusian hadn’t won a tournament. That changed last week in “Cincinnati” where Azarenka stormed to the title out of nowhere.
She doesn’t seem to have let that form cool down in the least this week, taking down a slew of talented opposition, as the world no.11 and fellow Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka. One of few players on tour that possesses the great aura that commands immense respect on the court, it’s an added element of pressure for the opposition. Moving as well as ever and with rumbling groundstrokes, the 31-year old is storming towards another Major.
An in-form opponent will have to be defeated first though, as Elise Mertens continues her excellent restart to proceedings. Now the winner in twelve of her last 15 matches, it’s taken the likes of Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka to halt the Belgian’s momentum.
Already an elite counterpuncher and exceptionally clean ball-striker, last year’s quarterfinalist added in a fantastic serving performance against our latest Major champion Sofia Kenin. Planting her feet, gritting her teeth, and refusing to budge in baseline rallies, she frustrated the American into plenty of unforced errors when going for too much. Adding in eight aces to no double faults and only 7 unforced errors to 20 winners it was a masterful performance from the Hamont-Achel resident.
While exceptionally difficult to defeat, often requiring elite talent in great form to take a loss, Mertens does routinely struggle against that category of players. Going 2-8 for a -46.8% ROI against the top-10 players, where an in-form Azarenka would place, she’s been unable to even win a set in those eight losses. Matched up against powerful, controlled aggression like the sort the Belarusian possesses, the Belgian tends to get hit off the court.
Azarenka looks to be rolling back the years and is a near-unstoppable force at the moment. She knows how to win Majors, and one can tell she’s gunning for one more here. The best sportsbooks open this matchup closely priced, with Mertens the underdog in the +100 range, and Azarenka favored around -120. There is no doubt that the 31-year old has the tools required to overcome the no. 16 seed here, and we will invest in the -120 moneyline price at Bovada.