After two exciting, high quality semi-finals, we’re into the final of the ladies US Open where 2018 champion Naomi Osaka takes on in form Victoria Azarenka. Twice before has Azarenka made the final, losing out to Serena on both occasions. Will this be her year? Join me as I analyze the final in New York and offer my best value tennis picks and predictions for Sportsbook Review!
Naomi Osaka vs. (WC) Victoria Azarenka
Saturday, September 12, 2020 – 04:00 PM EDT – New York
We are in for a treat on Saturday with two players in red hot form going head to head for the US Open trophy. The semis showed superb quality from everyone involved and I would expect that to continue into the final.
Osaka enjoys favoritism but not by much and I certainly expect Azarenka will at least have her moments. The Belarusian came into the post lockdown season on a 6 match losing streak and has since gone 11-0. She has been unplayable from the back of the court in those matches winning 49.3% of return points.
Osaka by contrast has been a rock on serve, holding 93% at the US Open so far, exceptional numbers for any tennis player. She has by no means been unimpressive on return either so it’s startling to see that Azarenka has broken almost twice as much as Osaka at 55.4% compared to 28.2%.
From a moneyline perspective, my prices are almost exactly in line with the WTA tennis odds, so it’s tough to find much room for maneuver in that department. Not exactly an adventurous take, but perhaps a humble over bet offers the best value on Saturday with Bovada sportsbook offering -115 (1.87) on over 21.5 games.
Osaka is 5’ 11” and has the second highest service games won percentage on tour in 2020 at 84.3%. Azarenka is 6’ 0” and while she is less serve orientated she certainly has a strong serve and well above average service hold percentage.
Osaka is not usually a player who dominates against the elite with 8 of her 10 matches against the top 10 since 2019 seeing the over bet land. Azarenka is not top 10 but certainly playing top 10 tennis. Against the elite, Osaka often relies on her superb ability on serve alongside a dip from her opponent, then she does an excellent job of pressing home her lead.
Osaka is generally good for over bets with just 8 of her last 20 priced -200 (1.5) to -101 (1.99) seeing the match finish in under the total games line. Azarenka isn’t amazing for Over bets but she’s certainly not poor when against top tier opposition with just 4 of her 10 matches priced +100 (2) to +200 (3) against the top 10 since 2018 seeing the match finish in under the total games line. The pair have met 3 times though only 1 was in the last 2 seasons with Osaka winning 4-6 7-5 6-3 at a similar pre-match price on clay at the 2019 French Open.
Stats aside, the key to this tennis pick is my expectation about the level of quality in this match. Azarenka lost the opening set against Serena 6-1 in one of her poorest sets of the tournament, but her level of quality in set 2 was breathtaking. Osaka too has had her dips but she has come back stronger every time.
It would take a very strong or very weak display from one woman for this to be won in straight. Even then, I would expect that a straight sets win is most likely to be because of a swing within a set leading to a 7-5 or 7-6 followed by a loss of energy after losing such a tight set. I just find it very hard to see a situation where one player cruises to the win 3 and 4.
The most likely way for it to lose would basically be two poor sets from either player, and neither has any shown any evidence they will do that at the moment. There is always the chance that it is one match too many, especially after a long layoff, and that one player will have a very poor day. However, that kind of reversion is very hard to bet on and I would much rather assume that the final of the event is likely to see a similar level to the previous rounds.