US Open Betting: Na Li to stretch Williams

We’ve reached the final matches of the US Open 2013 and Friday sees the ladies semi-finals take centre stage at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre.

Both of my recommendations proved successful in the quarter-final matches, with Serena Williams and Vika Azarenka producing the goods and covering the respective handicaps and we begin the action at 6.45pm UK time on Friday.

Victoria Azarenka vs Flavia Pennetta

This match could well be more competitive than the layers expect, with Pennetta showing some of the best form of her career this fortnight. She’s clearly enjoying herself at the moment after a torrid time with injury. 

The Italian has thumped Sara Errani, Sveta Kuznetsova, Simona Halep and Roberta Vinci in straight sets and has by and large played the more impressive tennis of the two in this event so far. Whether she’ll be able to continue in that carefree vein in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career at the age of 31, has to be the concern for her backers. 

All four of her major quarter-finals have come in New York and she clearly enjoys it here and didn’t struggle with the occasion against Vinci, so perhaps she won’t again. The Italian has beaten Vika before on a hard court and we haven’t quite seen the best of the Belarusian yet, so for me the best betting options here surround siding with Pennetta. 

Vika has a 3-3 record in Grand Slam semi-finals, so he’s a touch short at 1.18, although her price has drifted to that by a few points. I am going to side with Pennetta here with a 5.5 game start on the handicap at 1.60. That seems a lot to cover for the Belarusian, whose serve has been vulnerable all hard court swing so far.

Serena Williams vs Na Li

Again, there is little in the way of value to be had on the favourite here, with Williams a 1.14 shot to record her ninth win over Li in a series that currently stands at 8-2 in the American’s favour.

Yet once more, it could be argued that the underdog has played the more impressive tennis coming into this match. Li had her chances to beat Williams in Cincy prior to this event and served for both sets in a 7-5, 7-5 defeat. She has had a tendency to push Serena hard, but fails to finish the job off. 

This is Li’s first time in the semi-finals of the US Open, but she has won three of her four major semi -inals, the only exception being to Williams in Melbourne back in 2010. 

Serena has a superb record in major semis too, with 20 wins to only three losses and only once in her career has she been beaten in the last four here. 

That was during the infamous 2009 match with Kim Clijsters, when Williams lost on a penalty point after threatening the line judge after a foot fault. It’s unlikely that there’ll be such drama tonight, but I fancy Li to take this past the over 19.5 games mark at 1.80. She has the talent and form to win this, but will she falter yet again with the winning post in sight?

Best Bets

Back Pennetta +5.5 games to beat Azarenka at 1.60

Back over 19.5 games in Williams/Li at 1.80

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