The 2014 US Open gets underway at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in Flushing, New York on Monday, with 32 ladies singles matches on the card on day one.
Amongst the stars in action today are Simona Halep, Aga Radwanska, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki and we’re expecting a decent day weather-wise too.
It’s set to be around 25C, sunny and not too humid on Monday, with 5mph winds, which is about as good as it gets for tennis in New York.
Wozniacki has the toughest match on paper, despite Sharapova’s draw against fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, as Kiri has fallen down the rankings to number 113 after an injury-plagued season.
The Dane faces New Haven finalist Magda Rybarikova, who looks generously priced at 8.0, but she appeared to be struggling physically in the New Haven final, which puts me off the handicaps on the Slovak.
Indeed, of the 32 matches on Monday, 14 feature favourites priced at shorter than 1.20, so it’s tough to find much in the way of value.
There wasn’t much in the way of upsets in round here last year, with only really Sam Stosur’s defeat by Victoria Duval and Rybarikova’s loss to Patricia Mayr-Achleitner making any waves.
Jelena Jankovic vs Bojana Jovanovksi
Jovanovski disappointed against Genie Bouchard in New Haven last week when I thought she could at least test the Canadian, but the root cause of her 6-1, 6-1, loss seems to be injury.
The Serb says she has “serious problems with an arm injury” that apparently needs surgery and hinders her training and it would seem from her words that she’s only here in New York to make up the numbers (and pocket $35,754 in prize money into the bargain).
Bojana could only manage to win 15 of 46 points on her own serve against a Bouchard who went on to herself be thrashed by Stosur in the next round of New Haven and Genie’s win over Jovanovski remains the Canadian’s only match win since Wimbledon.
Jovanovski’s impatient, ball-bashing style is unlikely to get very far against a top-class defender like Jankovic unless she’s in peak form and clearly she is nowhere near that and the 1.59 on minus 5.5 games for Jankovic seems an obvious bet.
Not a lot really leaps off the page on Monday in the tighter matches, with Jana Cepelova having had a virus and Johanna Konta having not played a main draw match since she fell over in Istanbul.
Karumi Nara looks plenty short enough against an opponent who thrashed her in their only career meeting, but who is very inconsistent in Aleksandra Wozniack.
On form Karin Knapp should beat Tsvetana Pironkova, but the Bulgarian’s peaks and troughs are too unpredictable for anyone to know when they’re coming, and Johanna Larsson has never won a match in the main draw here, which puts me off her against Virginie Razzano.
Timea Bacsinszky vs Kiki Bertens
This Court 8 clash at around 20:00 UK time this evening looks a decent opportunity for Bacsinszky to continue her quest to get back inside the world’s top-40 after a spell out of the game with injuries.
The former world number 37 has played some good tennis lately and is working with a new coach who seems to be helping in a more relaxed approach that the Swiss player has adopted.
Bacsinszky has put some good results together in recent weeks, beating Lauren Davis, Fran Schiavone and Yanina Wickmayer last week in New Haven and taking a set from Wozniacki.
Bertens is more at home on clay and only once in her career has she been past the second round of any tour level hard court tournament.
She’s won just two main draw matches on hard courts in 2014 the 1.54 on Bacsinszky will be my second bet on a tricky opening day in New York.
Back Jankovic –5.5 games to beat Jovanovski at 1.59
Back Bacsinszky to beat Bertens at 1.54