Sep 01, 2021

2021 US Open WTA Round Two Predictions

Barty vs Tauson :

Barty’s match had an odd interruption, with the hawkeye system going down. Rather than bring out line judges, they had to wait until the repair was made. It only took a couple minutes, but it was right when Zvonareva finally got warmed up, so it was unfortunate timing for her. Barty won in two and seems like she’s a healthy favorite in this next matchup, but it’s a huge step up in firepower. Clara Tauson is a solid server with a good forehand and a commitment to moving her opponent. It’ll be their first meeting and there are a lot of wins in the past month between these two, but Barty’s are all at tour level. Tauson should have bright points, and Barty is always susceptible to a second set lull, but I’m not sure Tauson will be able to hit through Barty for long enough to win a set. Barty in 2 close sets.

Rogers vs Cirstea :

Shelby started off down a break, but really never looked back against Madison Brengle. Cirstea had a much tougher match, taking hours to defeat Kudermetova. If you want a sign that Cirstea is ballin, besting one of the more consistent baseliners on tour is your sign. It means that despite Rogers’ power and 1-0 lead in the H2H (it was on clay), Cirstea is the favorite for this match. A lot of Cirstea matches go three sets, so this may take a while, but her play is a bit more varied and sharp than Rogers who tends to take a very linear approach and struggles to create on her backhand. Cirstea in 3.

Sorribes Tormo vs Hsieh :

This match will have to be completed over the course of 2-3 days. One, because there is the possibility of rain tomorrow and Thursday. Two, because Sorribes Tormo and Hsieh can retrieve anything and never miss. Muchova played as well as you can play while losing in straight sets, and she had the second set fairly locked up but couldn’t close out. Tormo reminds me of a school teacher who’s very generous with grades, because she says “A” on every single shot. If you think that joke is bad, try playing tennis while your opponent is making a noise on all of your swings. Mild noise hindrances aside, Tormo is playing great and her use of the moonball is a humbling experience for tour players who would like to pretend they’ve solved that problem.

Hsieh and Liu was hyped as a close match and I fell for it, but Liu didn’t have a shot here. Hsieh ran her around until she missed, and although the second set was a single break loss, Liu looked exhausted throughout. Hsieh will have trouble scoring on Tormo, and the reverse is true also. I think at this point that Tormo hits a heavier ball and this should give her an edge. Beating Muchova in two is also supremely impressive. Tormo in 2.

Zhang vs Raducanu :

Zhang had a pretty simple victory against Baptiste, who shows promise but doesn’t seem fully committed to tennis. Raducanu is somehow already everyone’s favorite player, but she backs up the hype and dismissed Voegele in straight sets. Here, Raducanu should thrive. Zhang plays a very straightforward game, and Raducanu hits bigger than her and moves a bit better also. Raducanu Tormo is where the hype train likely ends, but I’ll be happy to watch it. Raducanu in 2.

Bencic vs Trevisan :

Vandeweghe is retired but the USTA doesn’t know it yet. Trevisan didn’t have to do a lot here but she played consistent tennis and Vandeweghe made pretty much constant errors. Bencic on the other hand had a solid match with Rus who refreshed my memory on how hard she can hit the ball. This whole event has the tour looking back to it’s normal pre-pandemic self, with everyone playing solid ball and threatening in matches. Bencic should have an edge in power and her offense isn’t the type that Trevisan can negate. Bencic in 2.

Doi vs Pegula :

Storm Sanders was up 5-2 in the first and had chances in the tiebreak, but she just made errors and this match got away quickly. Good win for Doi, and now comes a really tough ask. Pegula beat Potapova fairly easily, and is likely to do the same to Doi. The difference will be that Doi is looking to defend first, so it may take longer as she plays deep and looks for errors. She’ll get some, but Pegula has passed this level of the tour by. Pegula in 2.

Kontaveit vs Teichmann :

This is a good one. Kontaveit’s power and forehand against Teichmann’s movement. I expect Teichmann to earn some errors from her resiliency, but I’m not so sure she’ll be able to defend her own serve well enough to win here. Teichmann is a baseliner, and Kontaveit is a conservative yet offensive baseliner with more power and experience. She should have an edge as long as she keeps her unforced errors down. Kontaveit in 3.

Ferro vs Swiatek :

Nice. The two players I don’t have a good read on meeting in the second round. Ferro played just offensive enough to get inside the baseline, and her power from there proved too much for Hibino. Swiatek had some tough moments with Loeb who played her best, but it seemed inevitable. If this was clay, I’d say it would be close. Since it’s hardcourt, Swiatek should be a pretty solid favorite. She has a much bigger serve and her backhand is a bit safer to produce. I am so sleepy. Are all tournaments 14 hours a day? How have I not noticed this. Anyway, Swiatek can probably defend against Ferro’s offense in a much easier fashion than Hibino could. Swiatek in 2 close sets.

Pliskova Ka. vs Anisimova :

Pliskova seems like a darkhorse for this event since the surface is favoring servers. Diyas had break opportunities in both sets but Anisimova played the big points better. This should be Pliskova’s, but Anisimova has big enough shots to almost immediately expose Pliskova’s lack of lateral movement. Her own serve wasn’t defended well against Diyas though, and Pliskova may take advantage of this. Pliskova in 3.

Tomljanovic vs Martic :

Tomljanovic looked tired early in the first, but after I noted that she barely lost a game. Volynets is a nice consistent player but she doesn’t have a way to score just yet. Martic dealt with a much tougher test with Dalma Galfi, but Galfi let some unlucky missed opportunities unsettle her. She made some unforced errors, and Martic played some of her best tennis so far this season. Her backhand was solid, and Galfi’s power was well-reflected. This and the Diyas match were two I got wrong but felt good about despite the losses. Tomljanovic will be a bit more durable than Galfi, but I think Martic seems primed for a run. Martic in 2.

Badosa vs Gracheva :

Van Uytvanck was not too pleased with her result, smashing a ball into the backstop and genuinely looking frustrated. Join the club; Badosa is consistent and competes in a fiery manner that really leaves her opponents unsettled. She comes in at something like -550 for this which is a bit nutter-butters considering how well Gracheva has been playing. Gracheva hits hard and defends the baseline like the last pistachios in the bag defend their respective pistachios. I’m hungry. I am also sleepy. It’s tough to say how competitive this will be. Gracheva will be much more adept at winning rallies than Van Uytvanck, but will have a tough time scoring. Parrizas-Diaz is a player like Badosa but with less offensive guile. I’d expect this to be closer than the line offered, but with Badosa still winning. Badosa in 2.

Schmiedlova vs Pavlyuchenkova :

This tournament is ova! Oh dear glob I am sleepy. I blame all bad jokes on my snoozy vibes. Krueger balled out, but couldn’t finish the job. Pavs had a pretty easy first round, and I’m somewhat confused on how Riske is still on tour (no I’m not, the USTA wild card system props all US pros). Pavs should have a consistent edge in this, especially considering Schmiedlova was close to losing her last two matches against tour newcomers. Pavs is a superior baseliner. Pavs in 2.

Kvitova vs Pliskova Kr. :

It’s great to see giant left-handed people winning, but only one can get through here. Pliskova had a simple match because Kovinic is recovering from an injury. Kvitova had a tricky one with Hercog, but made it look easy. I think Pliskova can be close in the scoreline, but despite the errors Kvitova is much better from the baseline than her. Kvitova in 2.

Siniakova vs Sakkari :

While watching the Siniakova match I was reminded how difficult it is to hold serve. Sevastova fought back from a break down so many times but couldn’t hang on. Kostyuk did some kicking of her own, as she had a long day against human wall Maria Sakkari. Fitter than the rest of the tour, and with a top 5 serve, Sakkari is due for a win at a major. It needs to come soon, as Andreescu and Osaka look like they’re starting to get their games back. This is a similar match to Kostyuk, but Siniakova has a bit less firepower and a bit more consistency. Should be solid, and Sakkari’s danger here will be falling into passivity. She has a better serve and a bigger forehand, so this is a spot to go after her shots and thrive. Sakkari in 3.

Minnen vs Samsonova :

Greetje Minnen took good advantage of the lucky loser spot, besting Podoroska in 3. It sets up a winnable but difficult contest with Samsonova. Boulter played the first half of each set extremely well, but Samsonova has an edge in power that’s tough to overcome. Samsonova served well also which will be key against Minnen. Samsonova in 2.

Davis vs Andreescu :

Lauren Davis will have a long day at the office if she is lucky. If unlucky, a short one. Andreescu and Golubic just played the best quality match that has been played this year. Legit, I have not seen higher quality rallies than that. I had no clue Golubic could move and defend that well, and Andreescu somehow can swing as hard as she can and keep the ball in the court. Errors and the stellar backhand of Golubic were Andreescu’s only trouble, but it took a late surge down 4-2 in the 3rd for her to win. I am gutted for Golubic, and also when I recalled this was just to get to the second round, it felt wrong. It had the quality of a quarterfinal, and Andreescu played well enough here that I expect her to make a deep run. Davis is not much of a test, and despite some nausea issues in the second set, Andreescu should be able to get through here quickly enough to fully recuperate for her next round. Andreescu in 2.

Svitolina vs Masarova :

Masarova and Bogdan put on a tremendous show in their match, and Masarova is a player to watch in the coming months. She has a great out-wide serve from the ad side which is pretty rare on the women’s tour. She has great speed and control on defense for extending rallies, and deft touch on her forehand which lends itself to smooth winners and disguised dropshots. What I didn’t love is that she devolved into pushing at the end of the match. Bogdan is a great player and isn’t just going to hand you the match. Masarova all but gave this one away, and while I understand applying pressure and making your opponent play, Masarova is too good to be gunshy in these moments.

Svitolina will be a really tough test for Masarova, who may not be 100% physically for this match. She looked completely spent at the end of her match with Bogdan and had to come through qualifying last week. The -1100 that Svitolina sits at is disrespectful, but she should have an edge here just from having played 7 fewer sets this week. If they were both fresh, I’d like Masarova to win a set. Svitolina in 2.

Vondrousova vs Kasatkina :

Voundrousova was down 5-2 and won 12 of the next 12 games. In case you’re not a math person, that is a good thing. Kasatkina had a similarly dominant performance against Pironkova, and that sets up a contest that will be tough on both. Kasatkina can move the ball well and defend. Voundrousova is a complete wall and wears down her opponents with lengthy rallies and deft dropshots. This feels like Tormo Hsieh in that I’m not entirely sure how either player will score, but Voundrousova does tend to hit a heavier ball on her forehand. Kasatkina though, has challenged some big hitters at times, including some tight sets with Sabalenka. I’m not saying this because I’m sleepy, but I really don’t know who is going to win this match. I’d expect Voundrousova to be slightly favored in the odds because she just got silver in the Olympics, but Kasatkina is ranked a bit higher and Voundrousova was down 5-2 to Ruse before she lost her groove. Speculatively, I will say that I expect this match to never end. Voundrousova in 3 is my real guess though.

Rybakina vs Garcia :

Rybakina was through easily against Sasnovich, while Garcia nearly lost to Harriet Dart by virtue of not being able to hold serve. Rybakina’s big hitting is likely to do more damage than Dart and her own service games are well defended. Rybakina in 2.

Kucova vs Halep :

Kucova beat down Ann Li, and the -1000 they sat Halep at is disrespectful, especially considering they had Giorgi as a pickem in the first round (which I fell for so I shouldn’t point fingers). Giorgi imploded around the third shot that Halep returned in each rally, but Kucova’s two-handed forehand is way more reliable. I don’t know how Kucova will win points, but she won’t give them away, and Halep is not sharp yet. There is a chance that since Kucova earns all her points with long rallies, Halep will be able to compartmentalize each game, and leave her on a low score. If Halep is looking to win this quickly, Kucova will win a bunch of games though, as she really was moving the ball well against Li. Another way to think about it is, if Li were playing Halep, I’d think Li had a chance to make one set competitive. Kucova also is the one who nearly beat Barty at the AO. Halep in 2 but Kucova could get off to a quick start on her.

Kerber vs Kalinina :

Yastremska played a great match but Angelique Kerber just puts shot after shot back in play. Some of them don’t even make sense. She doesn’t really do a ton; just reflects power over and over until her opponent is sick of it and misses. Kalinina doesn’t really have the offense to win where Yastremska couldn’t. Kerber in 2.

Gauff vs Stephens :

Stephens and Keys actually played a good match, with Stephens ending up the more consistent player in the third. Gauff and Linette also had a very exciting contest, which almost felt like Linette was robbed of as well as she played. Gauff looked a bit tight at times, but when she swings free it’s clear she’s on another level. Some people complained about Gauff’s match being shown over a 5th set from Murray/Tsitsipas, but there are some other things to consider. The television schedule is planned out way in advance. No one really expected Murray to get to a 5th set. Tennis is not a sport at this time, it’s a business. The sponsors and organizers put the money first, and they have put a lot of eggs in the Gauff basket. Honestly, between the dullard announcers and the US-centric broadcast schedule, it should be fairly obvious that Tennis Channel/ESPN are not really following tennis as fans but are using it as a tool to make money. It’s lame, but it’s not as lame as Zverev.

Gauff should beat Stephens, but will she? If this goes deep, Stephens has an easier time winning points. Her easy power and movement are what make her a tough out, and Gauff’s conservative shot selection will make her feel pressured at time to end rallies with shots she doesn’t normally go for. If Stephens gets down in the scoreline though, expect a runaway. Gauff will be better than Stephens, and one of the reasons she plays so safe at times and makes errors doing so is because she knows that she can just outwork her opponents. The expectations force us as players to get the job done in the safest way possible. Hard to see the upset here, but Gauff doesn’t exactly zip people yet. Gauff in 2 close sets.

Kanepi vs Fernandez :

Fernandez played really well in round one against Konjuh. She moved the ball constantly and went down the line with her forehand in the sneakiest situations. It gives her a good chance against Kanepi, who snuck by Putintseva after getting absolutely rolled in the first. Once Kanepi stopped making errors, Putintseva was helpless, and holy mackerel does Kaia hit the ball hard. I wanted Fernandez to played someone with a smaller game, but she has a good shot here if Kanepi makes the same type of errors that she did in the first set. Kanepi always does her best in the majors, but she’s had a slow year. It’s hard to imagine either player running away with this, and I lean towards Fernandez being the sharper player. Fernandez in 3.

Danilovic vs Osaka :

Osaka really played well against Bouzkova and never seemed worried about the outcome. Only Andreescu really hit as big as she did in round one. Danilovic is surging and can hold her own, but she lacks the firepower to really put Osaka in trouble. Osaka in 2.

Krejcikova vs McHale :

Krejcikova was scary good in round one, and this is another perfect matchup for her. Sharma lacked the consistency to hurt Barbora, and McHale lacks the uhhhh … I mean … what even can hurt Krejcikova? Long story short, McHale doesn’t have the imaginary offense I’m imagining would beat Krejcikova? When’s the last time she even lost? Oh ok. 4 losses in her last 33 matches and they’re to Barty, Barty, Bencic and Swiatek. Man I am sleepy. Go Krejcikova! Krejcikova in 2.

Rakhimova vs Alexandrova :

Hmm. Rakhimova was able to eventually shut down Mladenovic, but will she be able to do the same to Alexandrova? Mlad plays a bit more of a skilled approach, while Alexandrova has a bit more power. I think Rakhimova will feed into Alexandrova’s strengths. Alexandrova in 3.

Azarenka vs Paolini :

Azarenka won like 10 games in a row in her match, and this is a chance to win 12 more games. Paolini is neato, but Azarenka in 2.

Petkovic vs Muguruza :

I compared these two in round one, but now that the moment is here I’m hesitant. Muguruza had a struggle and a half with Vekic, but Petkovic would likely lose to Vekic, and it feels like Garbiñe’s power will break her down. Muguruza in 2.

Mertens vs Grammatikopoulou :

Peterson probably should be playing the second round. She was ahead in the match and playing excellent tennis, but Mertens has shown time and time again that she doesn’t have holes in her game unless her opponent has a great deal of power. Grammatikopoulou had a great tour first in winning a main draw match after qualifying, but she is likely to end her run here. Mertens in 2.

Osorio Serrano vs Jabeur :

I can see the finish line. In a round that has more -700 and above lines than I have ever seen at a major, I’m having a tough time disagreeing. Osorio Serrano is good, but her game is a bit smaller than you need to bother Jabeur. She does keep the ball in play very well, which means Jabeur’s lapses may send her to a third set. When she gets there though, she’ll still have the biggest serve and a forehand that can earn errors just by the weight of shot. Jabeur in 2.

Collins vs Juvan :

Collins did not seem to care that Suarez Navarro was retiring, and ran her side to side relentlessly. This bodes well for her second round with Kaja Juvan, who has a cool name. Juvan probably doesn’t get rolled here since she’s done well against a lot of tour players, but this is around the round she usually bows out in a major, and Collins’ game was firing on all cylinders in round one. Collins in 2.

Zidansek vs Sabalenka :

I didn’t think Zidansek could pull it off, but who am I to tell Zidansek what to do. GO ZIDANSEK! GO WHERE YOU WISH! GO WHERE YOU WANT! Sabalenka in 2.