Big names are in action as the women's singles at the US Open gets underway this afternoon with the likes of Naomi Osaka and Barbora Krejcikova on court. Dan Weston previews the action...
"Watson retired last time out, against Ana Bogdan in Chicago, and I'm fine with taking Juvan here given that her hard court numbers are better than Watson's over the last year or so anyway."
Question marks over Osaka before Bouzkova clash
There are a number of highlights as the US Open starts on Monday, with players taking to the courts from 16:00 UK time. While a lot of the big names are in action today, they are mostly very short-priced favourites, so let's run through some to see if there is any upset potential.
The Big Names
Marie Bouzkova 8.207/1 vs Naomi Osaka 1.132/15: Osaka has won the tournament two out of the last three years here, but hasn't got past the quarter-finals of any tournament since the Australian Open in February, with some off-court issues perhaps causing a distraction. She will need to be on her game against the Czech, Bouzkova, who has won more hard court matches on the main tour than she has lost in the last 12 months. At the Australian Open in 2020, Osaka was priced just above the 1.21/5 mark against Bouzkova, which looks a little more realistic than the current market line.
Krejcikova should be too good for Sharma
Barbora Krejcikova 1.121/8 vs Astra Sharma 8.207/1: French Open champion Krejcikova picked up some market interest in the outrights in advance of the draw, and is a heavy favourite to get past her Australian opponent this afternoon. Such market faith in her looks justified - she's held running at 118% combined service/return games won on hard court in the last 12 months - and Krejcikova could be a real threat to top ten opposition over the next fortnight. This looks a reasonable mismatch and the market looks like it has got this one correct.
With those matches featuring big names unlikely to yield much value, let's move on to some lower-profile matches which may do. As always, there's the caveat that round one in Slams is often tricky to negotiate, with a number of players often turning up to pick up round one money when in questionable condition. In addition, there isn't an abundance of value based on my model either.
The Potential Value
Heather Watson 2.0421/20 vs Kaja Juvan 1.9210/11: I'm surprised that the market has priced this as around even money apiece. We know Watson's level - she's pretty established on tour - but it's a less precise assessment of the younger player, Juvan, who has some nice upside, although particularly on clay.
Watson retired last time out, against Ana Bogdan in Chicago, and I'm fine with taking Juvan here given that her hard court numbers are better than Watson's over the last year or so anyway.
Juvan at 1.9210/11 is today's recommendation.
Linette could give Gauff a test
Magda Linette 4.10 vs Cori Gauff 1.292/7: Gauff is a pretty strong market favourite here, and I agree she should be favourite, but numbers-wise, I'm unconvinced about the merits of this price against a pretty solid opponent in Linette. The Pole, Linette, has won more than she's lost on hard court in the last 12 months on the main tour and could provide a decent test to Gauff, who has gigantic future potential but still is yet to really justify her market status, which pretty much prices her as a top 10-15 player even though she's not currently there yet.
Linette comes into this tournament having reached the semi-final in the Cleveland warm-up event last week, which included a win over top seed Darya Kasatkina, so let's see how she fares against Gauff today - it wouldn't surprise me if she could keep it close, at least.
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