With such an open tournament in prospect in the women's US Open, there's plenty to discuss following the draw. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, discusses the brackets...
"Numbers-wise, I do like Krejcikova (111% combined service/return points won on hard court in the last 12 months), even considering she was mostly known as a clay courter until more recent times."
Barty should dominate quarter one
Even in her best-case scenario, there cannot have been much of a realistic possibility for Ashleigh Barty to have received such a good draw for the upcoming US Open. Of the top-20 players in the market in advance of the draw, only two - Belinda Bencic and Iga Swiatek - are in the top quarter with the Australian, so she must be delighted with her route to the latter stages.
We know that in WTA Grand Slams that many players are capable of beating each other, but it's difficult to anticipate many players in the top quarter testing Barty, who won dominantly in recent events in Cincinnati and at Wimbledon. Clara Tauson - who has huge potential - will be an interesting test, but I think Tauson is a year away at least from challenging the best on a regular basis.
I'm surprised Barty hasn't shortened more and there's even an argument to suggest that her 4.57/2 could represent some value in the outright market.
Difficult to pick out a winner from the second quarter
In quarter two, there are a number of players who will be looking to reach the latter stages, including Petra Kvitova, Paula Badosa, Maria Sakkari, Karolina Pliskova and Bianca Andreescu. Fitness for Kvitova, and recent level, are questionable, which is why she's as big as 46.045/1, but if the Czech can get back to somewhere near her best, this price would be a very interesting proposition. Pliskova has picked up some decent results of late, which sees her the shortest-price in the outright market at 19.5, out of all the players in this bracket. Andreescu has huge upside but hasn't performed consistently since returning from her long-term injury, and has lost six of her last eight matches.
Osaka with plenty to prove in quarter three
Moving on to bracket three, Naomi Osaka - who has won twice at this venue already - is the obvious favourite although she has struggled on-court in the last six months, while she's joined by the likes of Elina Svitolina, Elina Rybakina and Angelique Kerber, as well as Cori Gauff and Simona Halep too. If Osaka was shorter than the 3.211/5 to win quarter three, I'd think it was worth considering a lay given that lack of form in recent months plus the competitive nature of the bracket, and her price has trended upwards in the outright market as well to 8.615/2. It seems that the market has lost a bit of faith in Osaka, based on that movement.
Krejcikova shortening with quarter four draw
Finally, there's a free-for-all in quarter four with no huge favourite. Barbora Krejcikova, Victoria Azarenka, Danielle Collins, Garbine Muguruza, Ons Jabeur, Elise Mertens and the bracket favourite, Aryna Sabalenka, will all be among those who fancy their chances of a run to the latter stages, and numbers-wise, I do like Krejcikova (111% combined service/return points won on hard court in the last 12 months), even considering she was mostly known as a clay courter until more recent times.
While I like Krejcikova, I worry about the value having gone on her now. She's been backed into 19.018/1, which is pretty much the shortest price since the market opened, and her quarter-price looks skinny at 4.3100/30 as well - Sabalenka is very slightly shorter at 4.03/1 to win the quarter.
It wouldn't surprise me if one of these two got through to the semi-finals, but I'm not brave enough to consider backing the shortened Krejcikova here.
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