The final of the women’s singles at the 2016 US Open is set for Saturday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre between Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova.
And after a peculiar night in Flushing on Saturday featuring one of the strangest men’s major semi finals I can recall in recent times the disappointing second week of this US Open continued.
We did get the one break opening set between Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori, but as Stan served first it went to 10 games rather than nine, while the ‘most double faults’ wager was winning until the final set of that match.
It’s been that kind of week and Saturday’s action in New York sees Pliskova contest her maiden Grand Slam singles final against Kerber from 21:00 UK time on Saturday.
Karolina Pliskova vs Angelique Kerber
Recent form would suggest that Pliskova has a very good chance of becoming only the second betting underdog to win a women’s singles final at the US Open since 2006.
The in-form Czech may have been a tad fortunate that she met a hobbled Serena Williams in the semi finals, but she should be full of confidence after that win and her 6-3, 6-1 victory over Kerber in Cincy three weeks ago.
Pliskova was a 2.74 chance that day in Mason, Ohio, and it was a tired Kerber that lost that one on a windy day when she needed to win to land the world number one spot.
That particular obstacle has been removed from her thinking, as Kerber heads into this as confirmed world number one whatever the result here, while Pliskova would go top-five with a victory.
The only reason that I can see not to side with the underdog here would be the possibility of Pliskova freezing in the most important match on the biggest stage in tennis, but she didn’t seem at all overawed against Serena Williams in the semis.
Assuming she handles the nerves the numbers are in her favour, with three wins in her last five matches against Kerber and in her last 10 matches on hard courts Pliskova has held serve 84.5 percent of the time.
That is impressive and combined with a break of serve mark of 44.7 percent we’re looking at a total of 129.2 compared with Kerber’s 73.8 percent holds and 50.3 percent breaks, equalling 124.1.
Pliskova holds her own serve on outdoor hard in this career series almost 10 percent more often than Kerber at 70.1 percent against Kerber’s 60.9 and based on that the Czech to break serve first at 2.60 seems good value.
Kerber has barely played a tie break on outdoor hard this season, with a 0.05 tie breaks per set mark (Pliskova’s mark is 0.12), so ‘no tie breaks’ seems likely but not great value at 1.37.
Interestingly this match will be the fourth time in their last four meetings that they’ve clashed in finals, with Kerber having won on grass in Birmingham last season in a final set tie break and on hard in Stanford, also in three sets.
Then Pliskova won in two in Cincy and as it’s a tall order to expect Pliskova to come out and play flawless, aggressive tennis throughout in her maiden major final I’m liking a 2-1 win for the Czech at a tasty 5.30, with today's underdog having won a very impressive 16 of her last 20 matches that have gone to a deciding set in the last 12 months.
Only Sam Stosur in 2011 has upset the odds in a US Open women’s final since Maria Sharapova was slight underdog against Justine Henin in 2006, but this looks like it has a good chance being an upset.
Kerber has lost four of her last seven when priced as a 1.50 to 1.60 favourite, while Pliskova has won her last three as a 2.40 underdog or bigger, so all told I’m not seeing any value on the German here.
If Pliskova continues to serves well and finds her range off the ground the -3.5 games on her at 3.75 is another viable option, but I’m hoping for an exciting three setter here, with Williams’ win over Vika Azarenka in 2012 the last final to go to a tight three sets in New York.
Pliskova has already taken down both Williams sisters en route to this final and with Kerber having the number one ranking in the bag ahead of this match the Czech’s reward for a fine run of form could be a first major title.
Value bet: Back Pliskova to break serve first at 2.60
Long shot: Back Pliskova to beat Kerber 2-1 at 5.30