US Open Picks and Predictions: Who Will Advance in the Surprising Women's Semis Matchup?

Expert Tennis handicapper Vinny Maukner provides the analysis and best bets for Thursday's semifinal matches at the US Open.
Vinny Maukner
Thu, September 9, 4:51 AM EDT

US Open Picks and Predictions: Who Will Advance in the Surprising Women's Semis Matchup?

We lost our lucky Stosur/Zhang charm and thus all of yesterday’s bets. Lloyd Harris had the break lead at 5-3 in the first and a set point on serve later in the tiebreak at 6-5. When there was a problem with a running screen right before that set point, causing a delay of over a minute, you could already tell it was not our day. Harris then lost both his serves and his nerves. McCoco has just been electrifying. The crowd was involved as well, and McNally put away everything at the net. While Karolina Pliskova isn’t known as one of the elite returners in the game, I did not expect Maria Sakkari to win 24/26 of her first serve points, not allowing a single breakpoint and only getting to deuce once, in her final service game - the nerves, I might have mentioned them. But, it wasn’t enough as Pliskova couldn’t keep up with her previous displays.

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Johnson/Querrey vs. Ram/Salisbury Prediction

Johnson/Querrey vs. Ram/Salisbury Odds

Besides juniors and wheelchairs, there will only be four matches today. The women will have Arthur Ashe on their own for the night session while the men’s doubles finalists will be determined earlier on Louis Armstrong. We have already talked about Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey’s streak, not allowing a single break over their first four matches. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury are almost on par with them, giving up one break so far. The 2020 Australian Open champions played five tiebreaks over their last 6 sets, and across 130 service points played against Ebden/Purcell, they did not allow a single break point opportunity.

While Ram/Salisbury are full-time doubles players, their American opponents are still active on the singles tour. That being said, I would not have bet on this match during the first few rounds. Now that the Americans are in full doubles flow, they have all the tools to keep this close, though. I considered a bet on the money line but opted for the over, which is set at 22.5 games. With teams that are good at serving, that’s at least a game too low. When sets are decided in tiebreaks or one or two key moments, I’m also keen on taking the over 2.5 sets at a decent number.

Picks:

Over 22.5 games (-125)

Over 2.5 sets (+150)

Leylah Fernandez vs. Aryna Sabalenka Prediction

Leylah Fernandez vs. Aryna Sabalenka Odds

Will all good things come to an end? I genuinely believe more people wish for a Raducanu vs. Fernandez final instead of a Sakkari vs. Sabalenka one, even though, or precisely because it was unthinkable to see these names in a major final a week ago. Both teenagers continue to surprise, and Leylah Fernandez can already be labeled as a giant killer. The Canadian turned 19 three days ago, but that did not stop her from taking out the next big seed in Elina Svitolina. Just like Angie Kerber, the Ukrainian fares better against players she can absorb pace from, so Fernandez’s tricky play did not suit the two counterpunchers. Naomi Osaka led her 7-5 6-5 and served for the match when her game completely disappeared.

Aryna Sabalenka hits even bigger than Osaka and, for many different reasons, is in better form than the Japanese. After reaching the semifinal at Wimbledon, the Belarusian is ready to take the next step. Many of us already saw her here a few years ago. However, her non-existent consistency held her back. That changed this year, and apart from a few natural ups and downs, Sabalenka brought her game to the next level. We got used to Barty vs. Sabalenka finals earlier this year, but with the Australian already out, this could be the time for the tiger.

Leylah Fernandez showed some sublime tennis this fortnight, but when you look at all the matches, in particular, she did it against vulnerable opponents. We already talked about the match against Osaka, and Kerber also led Fernandez 6-4 4-2 before her game fell apart similarly. Against Svitolina, the Canadian showed some nerves of her own when leading 5-2 in the third and 4-1 in the decisive tiebreak, finding herself at 5-5 shortly after on both occasions. The match then ended on a Svitolina unforced error. I don’t want to take anything away from Fernandez, and all her victories were based on her versatile game, which can very much trouble Sabalenka. However, if the Belarusian maintains her form, I think she will overpower the youngster.

Pick:

Aryna Sabalenka -1.5 sets (-113)

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