Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2020 WTA Tour: US Open Tennis

2020 WTA Tour: US Open Tennis

Tennis player holds racquet

The US Open Tennis takes center stage at Flushing Meadows, New York, (Outdoor Hardcourt). Damien Kayat previews the respective matchups between Kim Clijsters vs Ekaterina Alexandrova as well as 
Karolina Pliskova vs Carolina Garcia.
Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2020 WTA Tour  | Flushing Meadows, New York, Outdoor Hardcourt
WTA Premier Five
Selected First Round and Second Round Matches- 2nd September 

Kim Clijsters (15/10)
vs Ekaterina Alexandrova (9/20)

This is one for the romantics.  At the age of 37, I think its fair to say that the tennis world was shocked by Kim Clijsters’ return to tennis. The former World Number One is a four-time Grand Slam winner who has made this arduous return to tennis before (albeit at a much younger age). She retired from tennis in 2007 at the tender age of 23. She sited injury recurrences and the desire to start her family. She came roaring back to competitive action with back-to-back US Open titles in 2009 and 2010. She is almost certainly the 2nd best Flushing Meadows player of her generation (no surprises for guessing who is number one). But what does that mean now?  Her return to tennis prior to Covid was hardly a harbinger of fairy-tale heroics. She lost in straight sets at both the Dubai and Monterrey events. But her performances in the less exacting atmosphere of World Team Tennis seemed to suggest some progress: she beat the likes of Sofia Kenin and Sloane Stephens.  But she was forced to withdraw from last week’s event due to an abdominal strain, leaving many to doubt her readiness for this event.

World Number 29 Ekaterina Alexandrova has been flattered somewhat by the 21 seeding (clearly the raft of withdrawals will have this effect). But she actually enters this event in really decent form of her own.  She lifted her first singles title in Shenzhen to open the season. She backed that up with a semi-final run in St Petersburg.  Despite the truncated schedule, Alexandrova has managed to pick up 13 victories this year.  Having said that- the baseliner has been in fairly indifferent post-Covid form.  Alexandrova’s task will be simple: make the 37-year-old move around the court, exacerbate any lingering injury concerns. Alexandrova will be secretly glad for the lack of crowd: Clijsters is a sentimental favourite who will have no doubt enjoyed the lion’s share of support.

This is a cross-generational meeting between a Hall of Fame member and a rising young star. I think that Clijsters stands a real chance of defying the sceptics this week. She knows this arena and can absorb the physical pressure that Alexandrova is likely to impose. 15/10 for a three-time champion and fairy-tale narrative seems good value to me.  
  
Jockeys Ride Horses

Karolina Pliskova (1/4)
vs Carolina Garcia (5/2)

Karolina Pliskova has earned her top seeding this week courtesy of the withdrawals of both Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep.  With all the ramifications of mass withdrawals this year, its unlikely that Pliskova will ever have a better opportunity to capture that elusive maiden Grand Slam. The 2016 US Open finalist is a perennial disappointment on the Major stage, dominating the mid-season satellite events with her hard-hitting baseline tactics.  And this year- such as it is- hasn’t exactly been spectacular. After winning her opening event in Brisbane she has since accumulated a 4-4 win-loss record this season. Pliskova even started her opening round match against Anhelina Kalinina poorly, losing her opening service game. But the Czech managed to recharge her biggest weapon, ultimately going on win 83% of her first serve points in a straight sets victory. Can she overcome the burden of expectation that always accompanies her?

26-year-old Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia has been one of the players in decline over the past few years (she reached a career high singles ranking of 4 in September 2018). The six-time WTA champion managed to attain that ranking courtesy of a maniacal schedule and consistency om multiple surfaces (in 2018 she reached the quarterfinals in Dubai and Doha, alongside semi-finals in Stuttgart and Madrid).  She won her biggest singles title on the hard surfaces of Wuhan (claiming her first career Premier 5 title in the process).  But injuries and the rise to prominence of other stars have seen her results decline.  2020 has largely been a wash for Garcia: that was until the Western and Southern Open last week.  She may have only reached the 2nd round, but victory over Sloane Stephens and a tight match against eventual champion Azarenka hinted at her true potential.   She eased past Paolini in the first round and seems quite comfortable at Flushing Meadows.

These two are certainly no strangers to each other, sharing the head-to-head spoils at three apiece.  Garcia actually won their last encounter on the Tianjin hardcourts in 2018. So, there is some precedence for a major upset here, especially at the price of 5/2. I think that Pliskova may sneak through here, but I would put this one on an upset watch.  

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets

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