Serena Williams is the favourite to win the 2019 US Open although she has been handed just about the toughest opening round possible, with Maria Sharapova set to face her in the first match.
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Williams got to the final here a year ago but lost her cool in suffering defeat to Japanese star Naomi Osaka, who is also towards the top of the betting odds in 2019 despite some injury issues.
That was Osaka’s maiden grand slam success and she has since performed to such a high level she is seen by many as a player who could dominate the game for many years to come.
But while Osaka may be the next big thing in the women’s game, Williams is still the player to beat as she seeks to collect what would be a seventh career title at Flushing Meadows.
However, it is worth pointing out that not one of her successes in New York have come in the last four years, when fitness and her recovery from giving birth for the first time have held her back.
Williams and Osaka are far from the only strong contenders to win the title this year as, once more, the field appears to be wide open for a women’s grand slam event.
There are probably around a dozen women competing who will have confidence they can go all the way, with world number two Ashleigh Barty among them as well as her fellow US Open top seeds Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova.
Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber are among the previous champions seeking to triumph again, but where is the best value to be found in the betting odds for this year’s US Open? As is custom, let’s dig in, see how the top sportsbooks have priced the key players and decide who shows the most value this year.
Will Williams Be in the Mood for Glory?
Serena Williams very much saves herself for the biggest events on the WTA tour these days so she should be fresh heading into the tournament, but she will have to be right at the top of her game from the start as Sharapova is a player who is capable of beating anyone in the world.
Sharapova and Williams have not met since the 2016 Australian Open and a lot has happened since then – the latter’s traumatic birth and subsequent recovery and the former’s drugs ban.
A back problem has hobbled Williams in recent weeks but at 5/1 it is clear the bookmakers are backing her to put that issue to one side and come out on top at Flushing Meadows once more.
Other players Williams will likely have to beat on her way to the semi-finals include Timea Bacsinszky, Karolina Mucova – who reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals – and Anastasija Sevastova, who got to the semi-finals of the US Open a year ago. Her draw is not easy at all.
Form and Fitness Hampering Osaka
When Naomi Osaka triumphed at the Australian Open right at the start of the year, it looked like the world was at her feet. Back to back grand slam titles had her widely hailed as the new Serena.
The rest of 2019 has not quite played out that way with Osaka failing to win any tournaments since Melbourne, while a knee injury has affected her preparations for New York this year. As the defending champion, Osaka very much has a target on her back but if she is at 100 percent fitness, there are not too many serious hurdles to overcome in her quarter of the draw.
Osaka opens up against the experience of Carla Suarez Navarro and is likely to come up against Coco Gauff in the second round. The American teenager captured the hearts of the world in her stunning performances at Wimbledon, which included beating Venus Williams.
Belinda Bencic, the Dubai champion and a former Flushing Meadows semi-finalist, is a potential fourth-round opponent for Osaka, as well as Anett Kontaveit. The Japanese world number one can be backed at a price of 12/1, but that knee injury is a question mark over her chances.
Second Quarter Packed with Champions
The best tennis to watch in the first week could come in the second quarter of the draw, which is headlined by former world number one Simona Halep but also features stars including Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki, who has twice reached the final at Flushing Meadows.
Halep’s 8/1 price makes her the second favourite for the US Open title behind Serena even though she has lost in the first round in New York two years in a row. Her draw has been fairly kind, however, with the Romanian opening up against a qualifier.
Assuming she gets that far, Wozniacki (150/1) could be waiting in the fourth round although the Dane has had a difficult 2019 so far, while Bianca Andreescu is certainly one to watch. The Indian Wells and Rogers Cup champion has a brilliant record against top-10 players but is yet to make her mark on a grand slam event. This could be her chance to shine and at US Open betting odds of 14/1, Andreescu is without a doubt worthy of including on anyone’s list.
The second quarter also includes Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won the US Open back in 2004 but has not been back to the final since 2007. Her experience will help and she is at 66/1.
Pliskova Favoured to Emerge from Third Quarter
At about 14/1 in the US Open betting odds, Karolina Pliskova is another name in the frame despite a slight lack of form of late.
She has no excuses for failing to reach the quarter-finals due to what looks a fairly straightforward draw, although fifth seed Svitolina could be waiting in the last eight. Svitolina, herself offered at 28/1, got to the semi-finals at Wimbledon but is out of form since.
Former US Open finalist Madison Keys is consistent in big events and her price of 14/1 appeals.
US Open Women’s Best Bets
Serena Williams will be absolutely desperate to make amends for last year’s shenanigans, but the pressure on her shoulders could tell once more and she does not seem to be 100 percent fit. Her status as the favourite should not be questioned, but 5/1 is too short given value elsewhere.
Defending champion Naomi Osaka also heads to New York with a question mark over her fitness and she can be discounted mainly for this reason, with Karolina Pliskova the first recommendation.
Pliskova’s draw means a price of 14/1 looks to be too big for the third seed, who has arguably the greatest serve in the game right now. That will be very hard to counter at Flushing Meadows, but the fact Pliskova is still yet to win her maiden grand slam tournament is a factor to consider.
Good value selections can be found throughout the draw but the best of them might just be Madison Keys, the beaten finalist in 2017 when Stephens came out on top in an all-American affair. Keys – the Cincinnati champion – can show nerves on the big stage but five of the last eight majors she has entered she has reached at least the quarter-finals.
Ashleigh Barty is almost operating under the radar for this year’s US Open, but she has to be considered at 10/1. She is in the top quarter with Williams and has a couple of potential banana skin opponents to navigate if she is to come through the opening rounds.
Last but not least, world number 63 Svetlana Kuznetsova may not be an obvious pick but at 66/1 she should give fans a decent run for their money. At 34, the Russian is one of the most experienced players in the draw and she is a two-time finalist, albeit not since 2007. Since a return from injury Kuznetsova has looked very strong indeed and she will take some stopping if she finds form.