Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2020 WTA Tour: US Open Tennis Championships

2020 WTA Tour: US Open Tennis Championships

Tennis player holds racquet

The US Open Tennis Championship takes center stage at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, Flushing Meadows, New York (Outdoor Hardcourt). Damien Kayat previews the respective matchups between Jennifer Brady vs Yulia Putintseva as well as 
Naomi Osaka vs Shelby Rogers.
Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2020 WTA Tour  | USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, Flushing Meadows, New York (Outdoor Hardcourt)
US Open Tennis Championships
Selected Quarterfinal Matches

Jennifer Brady (3/10)
vs Yulia Putintseva (47/20)

The rise to prominence of 25-year-old American Jennifer Brady has been a rollercoaster affair (to say the least).  She burst onto the scene in 2017 with 4th round showings at both the Aussie Open and US Open. It seemed to portend a long, illustrious career near the summit of the game.  But 2018 saw her hit a monumental slump (one which she struggled to pull herself out from). Like many she turned to doubles for some inspiration- which came in the form of a semi-final showing at the Aussie Open alongside Alison Riske.  That result may have helped instil a modicum of confidence, as she has incrementally built herself up since. She has played almost more matches than anyone in 2020.  A quarterfinal in Brisbane was followed by a brilliant semi-final run in Dubai. She then won her first post-lockdown event at the Top Seed Open.  She has been devastating this week, overpowering every opponent in straight sets. She devastated Kerber’s service games, dictating so many points with that hammer of a forehand.   

Though seeded this week, Yulina Putintseva is hardly what you would call a household name. The Kazakh player is an economical player who does fairly well on most surfaces. She has two hardcourt finals on her resume, though those came in 2017 and 2018 respectively. She won her maiden title on clay at last years Nuremburg Cup. Her two most notable achievements are French Open quarterfinal appearances in 2016 and 2018. That shows a real ability to negotiate the vagaries of Grand Slam tennis.  She has looked impressive this week without ever looking spectacular. She showed some grit to outlast Petra Martic, but something tells me she is going to need more than grit to defeat the rejuvenated Brady. She can’t be giving up those mid-court potatoes that Martic failed to consistently dispatch. 

This is one of those occasions where head-to-head records can be deceptive. Putintseva leads the head-to-head 2-0, with victories on clay and hardcourts in 2018.  She is yet to drop a set against the American. But this is a new Jennifer Brady. She is dominating opponent with ruthless tennis akin to Serena.  I can only see one winner, with Brady to win in straight sets at 15/20.  
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Naomi Osaka (4) (2/9)
vs Shelby Rogers (28/10)

Isn’t it about time that Naomi Osaka wins a US Open title of her own? I know what you must be thinking: didn’t she win her debut Grand Slam here in 2018? The answer is yes, of course.  But that victory will always be tainted by the hysterical ravings of Serena Williams.  I’ve actually been extremely impressed with how the Japanese-American has handled her career in the aftermath of that telenovela.  She won her 2nd Grand Slam in Melbourne last year and went on to capture her 2nd Premier Mandatory event in China. Despite her continued success, this will be her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since Melbourne last year (she has fared far better in regular tour events since then).  She reached her first final of this Covid-affected season in the realigned Western and Southern Open (she had to withdraw from the final due to injury precautions). That event took place here in Flushing Meadows, once again underlining Osaka’s love for these conditions.  She started slightly shaky this week, with two three-set marathons in the early stages. But her impressive dismantling of Anett Kontaveit in the last round was foreboding for anyone looking to take her down. 

There was always going to be the added possibility of deep fairy-tale runs at this year’s US Open (particularly in the women’s draw that has been eviscerated by withdrawals). Look no further than 27-year-old Shelby Rogers for your fairy-tale story of the event. This one almost defies belief.  Rogers is a former Girls National Champion who has largely plodded her way through life on the WTA Tour.  Two full-tour finals on clay back in 2014 and 2016 hardly make for stellar reading.  She did manage a Grand Slam Quarterfinal at Roland Garros back in 2016, further underlining her status as a clay-court player.  She underwent major knee-surgery in 2018, forcing her to take nearly a full year out of tennis.  In 2019 she returned to action with some encouraging results (she reached two ITF finals towards the end of the year). But little could have prepared us for her post-lockdown form.  In her first post-lockdown event she reached a semi-final.  She actually defeated Serena Williams in the quarterfinal of the Top Seed Open. So, clearly the Covid hiatus allowed her to find something within herself that allows her to compete at a higher level.  She beat Czech star Petra Kvitova in a gruelling three-set match and won’t be intimidated by any opponent she faces (she saved a massive four match points in that match). 

Unbelievably, Rogers actually holds the head-to-head advantage between these two. She beat Osaka in the 2017 Charleston Open (Shelby is a Charleston native). Unfortunately, I just don’t see a way forward for Rogers.  Osaka was brilliant against Kontaveit while Rogers may have emptied her reservoirs of energy in that Kvitova epic. Osaka to win in straight sets at 13/20.  

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets

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