The Southern & Western Open is underway in Cincinnati and we’re previewing the draw in order to determine the best tennis picks. Let’s get cracking.
Serena Williams The Player To Beat
Shocker! Serena Williams leads the field of hopefuls in Cincinnati as the player to beat at +110 tennis odds. The American was sensationally upset by Belinda Bencic (eventual champion) in Toronto last weekend, but that hasn’t taken away from her stock value.
Maria Sharapova, who skipped the Rogers Cup last week, returns to action this week and she emerges as the second favorite at +700 tennis odds to win outright, a good distance behind Serena Williams. Belarusian Victoria Azarenka enters the field as the third favorite at +800 while Simona Halep, runner-up in Toronto, comes in as the fourth favorite at +1100. Czech Petra Kvitova rounds out the Top Five favorites at +1500 tennis odds.
First Quarter: Williams Sisters Headline
The Williams sisters headline the first quarter of the Cincinnati draw, slated for a potential quarterfinal showdown. Obviously, Serena Williams is the favorite to win the quarter at -250 tennis odds, a fact underscored by the fact that she’s only lost two matches this season. Venus Williams, however, is fourth overall favorite to win this quarter at +1000, preceded by Ana Ivanovic and Sloane Stephens at +800 and +900 tennis odds, respectively.
It’s hard to look beyond Serena Williams in this section so she’s hands down the best tennis pick to win the quarter. Besides, she hates losing. So she’s sure to come into Cincy with a point to prove ahead of the US Open. Alternative tennis picks include one of the aforementioned triplet, but we’re feeling no joy in any of them.
Tennis Picks: Serena Williams at -250
Outside Tennis Pick: Ivanovic +800
Second Quarter: Czech Showdown?
Compatriots Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova flank opposing ends of this quarter with the former matched at +225 tennis odds to win the section and the latter matched at +500 tennis odds. Of the pair, Kvitova’s game is better suited to the surface but she sometimes struggles with asthma and the hot, humid weather this time of the year in the States aggravate her condition and makes it difficult for her to compete at her best.
Sandwiched in this section is Rogers Cup champion Belinda Bencic, who emerges as the second favorite to win this section at +400 tennis odds. As talented the Swiss-Slovak is, she’s only 18 years of age and after only her second career WTA title. It would be something spectacular if she were to replicate her sensational week with another in Cincinnati immediately afterwards.
To be fair, this is a loaded section with other viable contenders such as Sabine Lisicki, Coco Vandeweighe, Angelique Kerber, Flavia Pennetta, Dominica Cibulkova and Caroline Garcia, to name a few. It’s one of the toughest sections to call on our tennis picks.
Tennis Picks: Kvitova +225
Outside Tennis Pick: Pennetta +1600
Third Quarter: Wozniacki and Halep on collision course
Carolina Wozniacki and Simona Halep are on a collision course in the third quarter and as the top two seeds in this section they are amongst the favorites to emerge in the last eight. However, they aren’t the top favorites, partly down to their questionable form. Wozniacki was injured last week and fell early to Bencic. While Halep was unable to finish her final against Bencic, retiring in the third set down 0-3. All week she’d alluded to being tired and exhausted and it finally caught up with her in the final. What they have left in the tank remains to be seen. However, of the pair you have to think Halep at +200 tennis odds to win the section is still a value punt. Halep’s ability to will herself to compete and fight is comparable to the great Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. According to odds makers, unseeded Victoria Azarenka is the player to beat in this section at +175 and we’re of a mind to agree. Of course, there are others that could benefit in this section such as Andrea Petkovic at +1000 and Kristina Mladenovic +1600.
Tennis Picks: Victoria Azarenka +175
Outside Tennis Pick: Andrea Petkovic +1000
Fourth Quarter: Maria Sharapova and Karolina Pliskova on collision course
According to seeding, it’s Sharapova and Pliskova’s section as the top two seeds, slated to collide in the quarterfinals if all goes to plan. By the tennis odds, Sharapova is the favorite at +100 to win this section while Pliskova is the fourth favorite at +600, which could make her a value tennis pick as the surface favors her game as much as it does Sharapova’s. Agnieszka Radwanska emerges as the second favorite at +350 tennis odds, despite her path leading to a R16 showdown with Sharapova. Radwanska doesn’t have the weapons to hurt the big-servers on such a surface, not to mention it’s difficult to defend against them which makes her an iffy punt here. Madison Keys, the Australian Open semi-finalist, is the third favorite at +450 tennis odds, despite questionable form ahead of this event. She certainly has the game to win matches on this surface. Plus, she’s a home favorite, which can only help her chances. That said, she’s still a long shot in our opinion, more so than the odds makers would suggest on the tennis odds board.
Tennis Picks: Sharapova at +100
Outside Tennis Picks: Pliskova +600