The second week of the US Open has arrived with the quarterfinal showdowns, and the unprecedented COVID-19 tennis year continues. It’s been all of six years since it happened last, but we will now get a first-time Major champion, as Novak Djokovic made scandalous headlines.
On a 25-match unbeaten streak, the world No. 1 got defaulted in his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta, for hitting a ball at the lines judge’s throat. This is why Heritage Sports is refunding futures bets on Djokovic winning the US Open (visit our Heritage Sports Review).
Many will now be rubbing their hands together in a free-for-all to win the prestigious title. As we’re nearing the end of the tournament and value becomes trickier to find, let’s navigate our way to some spots where our tennis picks give us value. Let’s begin!
Pablo Carreno Busta (27) vs. Denis Shapovalov (12)
Tuesday, September 08, 2020 – 12:00 PM EDT at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
The perenially underrated Pablo Carreno Busta has had quite the campaign thus far in New York. With no apparent weaknesses in his game, the 29-year old Spaniard was able to better last year’s third-round appearance with ease. His journey looked destined to end when facing up against world No.1 and tournament favorite Novak Djokovic, however, Busta stood up well.
Winning 75% of points behind his first serve, and 50% of second serve points against the world’s best returner is admirable enough. Foraying to the net with great success, the 2017 semifinalist would find himself with the back against the wall. Down 4-5, 0-40. He saved the first set point with a picture-perfect backhand down the line that just about goes in. Carreno was able to fight back to hold – resulting in an angry Serb smashing the ball hard towards the stands.
Up 6-5, Djokovic would lose his temper once more. This time firing a ball that hit the umpire in the throat. Per the Grand Slam rulebook, this constitutes an automatic default, and Carreno Busta was awarded the victory.
After winning his maiden title in Stockholm Open last year, Denis Shapovalov will relish this opportunity to create a path to the final. The Israelian-born Canadian has never been this deep into a Major before. He’s even been able to double up, becoming the first player since his coach Mikhail Youzhny to make both the Singles and Doubles quarterfinal at the US Open.
He’s also the first Canadian to make it to this stage. The 21-year old’s foray into doubles tennis has improved his game by leaps and bounds. He’s been playing to his natural strengths of being the aggressor. Possessing plenty of power, Shapovalov has been coming towards the net much more frequently of late. This was apparent in his round of 16 match against David Goffin. He approached the net on 48 occasions, winning 34 of those points. Often inconsistent from the baseline, the Canadian has looked much more comfortable even in prolonged rallies this week.
This should be quite the serve oriented matchup, with both men quite strong behind their deliveries. It’ll be interesting to see how each man handles this unprecedented opportunity to make a push for a maiden Major title. Shapovalov has gone 3-5 for a -4.7% return on investment (ROI) against the top 20 over the best of five sets format, of which Carreno Busta belongs to performance-wise.
Inexperience and nerves may be the undoing of the talented young Canadian at this new stage. Shapovalov will have to be incredibly consistent from the baseline to overcome Carreno Busta. He trails the Spaniard 1-3 in the H2H matchups, including 0-3 on hard courts. It was in fact at this very venue that Busta prevailed in straight tiebreaks three years ago.
The top sportsbooks quote the ATP Odds for Shapovalov in the -225 range, while Busta can be found around +160 or above. Expect experience to pave the way and the underdog to prevail in this tousle. 5Dimes are paying +173 for that outcome and we’ll bite.
Over on the women’s side, readers of our Tournament Futures Preview will find that they may well be sitting on Jennifer Brady to win quarter 1, as well as Yulia Putintseva. The pair is priced by the WTA odds at +450 and +900 respectively, and face off in the first quarterfinal. Awarding us a guaranteed payout no matter who wins.
Brady, our Future selection to win it all, has looked sensational this week. She should have too much firepower for the Kazakh. The value looks tight, and I’m happy to give this match a pass.
Naomi Osaka (4) vs. Shelby Rogers (93)
Tuesday, September 08, 2020 – 07:00 PM EDT at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
There were concerns about Naomi Osaka’s chances at this Major, after withdrawing from the “Cincinnati” final because of a pulled hamstring. Playing with her left leg heavily strapped, the former champion has had to battle hard to get here. Overcoming spirited challenges from both Doi Misaki and Marta Kostyuk, who pushed her the distance.
However, the Japanese star has rounded into form, and her last match against Anett Kontaveit was impressive indeed. The big-hitting Estonian had pushed Naomi the distance last week, but this time around there would be no such challenge. Offering stifling power on return and in baseline rallies, the 22-year old consistently outhit and outlasted Kontaveit in most baseline rallies en route to a quarterfinal. One of three Major champions remaining in the tournament, at the time of writing, the +500 favorite to win it all looks one to fear.
One who won’t back away from such a difficult challenge, however, is Shelby Rogers. For the first time reaching the quarterfinal stage in her home Major, the in-form American has proven to be quite the giant killer. Currently making light of her world No.93 ranking, Rogers has combined her big serve and booming groundstrokes to excellent effect on these faster courts.
Upsetting two top 20-players to get to this stage in Elena Rybakina and Petra Kvitova, the 27-year-old is sure to be filled with confidence. The match against Kvitova was an incredibly high-quality affair, with both players going for their shots at any given opportunity. Taking the first set in a tight tiebreak, Rogers would quickly see the Kvitovian onslaught level the scores.
Serving last in the deciding set, the pressure would mount, and the American had to stave off three match points at 4-5 to eventually force a tiebreak. There, she would lose a crucial 5-5 point on serve, to set up the match point for the huge lefty swinger Czech. However, Kvitova wilted, double-faulted, and Rogers was able to come out victorious.
While Osaka deservedly comes in the huge favorite, the best betting sites quote her in the -400 range, Rogers cannot be overlooked at around +330. The American has produced a stellar 5-5 record in her last ten matches against the top 20 on hard court. Good for a sublime +88.5% ROI. Playing some of her best tennis right now and filled with confidence, she fears no one. Having the weapon of a big serve to get out of jams is a luxury few players on tour have. It will be immensely helpful against a returner of Osaka’s quality.
I expect a serve oriented matchup here, and considering Rogers has competed well even in defeat in this spot, covering even an over 21.5 line on all five occasions – the over 20 on offer looks quite low indeed. With Boomaker offering -112 for the over 20 games, we will pounce.