US Open Tennis Quick Picks – August 31st

The US Open is finally here! Tomorrow’s 42 game Draftkings slate is massive and boasts a $100k prize pool in its flagship GPP. While I cannot cover every single match this time around, here are 8 quality plays to get you started for tomorrow’s slate. Be sure to leave a comment or join up with DFSDatalytics’s premium chat (ask about our free trial!) if you have any questions or thoughts, and good luck in tomorrow’s contests!

Format: Player Name (Draftkings Salary, American Betting Odds) 

Price Glitch Chalk: Kateryna Bondarenko ($6,600, -475)

Last week, Matteo Berrettini was almost too good not to play with his underdog salary ($5,900) and status as a -170 favorite. Although he lost, he was rightfully heavily owned at 40% ownership. Bondarenko, an incredible -475 favorite at almost as low as a price, could very well be in the 60’s or 70’s in ownership even in GPPs. Although these types of plays do work out 100% of the time, this is a time to eat the chalk. A smooth straight sets victory is simply too valuable at $6,600, and with 42 matches on this slate, there is plenty of room to be contrarian elsewhere and have a unique lineup. 

As for the matchup itself, there is not much for me to say except Allie Kiick compares very unfavorably to an average tour level player, especially on hard. Against top 100 opponents on hard, she sports a career 4-14 record and .76 DR. Her recent performance is not any better: a 1-6 record on the year with a .60 DR even though she did not face a single player ranked inside the top 150. 

Do not get me wrong, Bondarenko is no Naomi Osaka, but she has demonstrated the ability to at least keep up with her competition. She’s 4-5 with a .96 DR against rank 10-100 opponents on the year while playing on hard. She had a couple losing efforts in qualifiers in both Lexington and Cincinnati and should be in decent playing shape for this tournament, while Kiick has not even played a match since February. I expect this match will not be especially close, and it could be a blowout. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas ($11,400, -5000)

In a 42 match slate surprisingly lacking of elite plays, Tsitsipas fills the void quite nicely. Just a quick glance at the betting numbers here suggests we have a very fine play here: a near guaranteed victory, a huge spread of 9.5 games, and a over/under of a mere 27.5 games. By these numbers alone, an assumption of a 6-3 6-3 6-3 straight sets victory seems both absurd and quite probable, but that is only the beginning.

There is likely going to be a huge gap in form here. Tsitsipas is coming off a semi-finals run in Cincinnati, which are on the very same courts he will be playing on tomorrow. He did not generate tons of breaks of serve in his unusually big server heavy draw, but he won every set he played against not-Raonic and broke big man Kevin Anderson several times in a 6-1 6-3 route. Contrast this with his veteran opponent, Albert Ramos. Ramos has not even played any exhibitions since July, and they were all on clay. He will likely not be warm and be ambushed by the surprisingly fast pace of the New York courts. Tsitsipas will want to end this match quick and the first set could get very ugly for Ramos.

Obviously there is a stunning talent gap here as well. Tsitsipas has an elite 22-6 record and 1.35 dominance ratio against rank 10-100 opponents on hard. Ramos was at least serviceable on the surface with a 6-4 record and .98 DR under the same constraints, but considering his 50-86 and .91 career stats on the surface, he is certainly not even an average tour player on the surface. 

Overall, Tsitsipas is in a smash spot in basically all ways possible. He even has an above average service game, and his ace potential and double fault prevention push up his median and ceiling outcomes even higher. If you are paying up for a player, Tsitsipas should be your first option.

Karolina Pliskova ($10,900, -1400)

I am still occasionally haunted by recommending Pliskova last week when she would go on to lose as a -500 favorite to Kudermetova in straight sets. Maybe she hurt her stock as a favorite to win the US Open this year after that result, but there is plenty of reason to at least expect a bounce back performance in the opening round against her opponent, Kalinina. 

Kalinina, still only 23 years old, has primarily been a challenger level player that has not broken into the mix at the WTA level. She has not played many top 100 opponents on hard, but she is a mere 1-7 with a .77 DR in her 8 career matches against them. Considering she has not even played a match since March, she might not even be able to hold up to her already fairly low level.

Just by talent (15-8 with a 1.11 DR on hard the past year) and exposure to the fast New York Courts alone, I expect Pliskova to both start and end this match quickly and dominantly. The betting totals seem to agree: this match only has a games total of only 17.5, which obviously points towards a Pliskova blowout. 

I do have a couple reservations about this match, aside from Pliskova’s baffling loss to Kudermetova last week. First, while Pliskova is about an elite caliber player, her return game actually is not that great. Her 33% break points won is solid, but is merely in the middle of the pack as far as top 50 players go. Kalinina’s poor service game should generate extra opportunities for Pliskova, but without an elite return game like Halep’s, I am a little skeptical Pliskova can hit the coveted clean set bonus. 

My other reservation surrounding Pliskova is her service game: it’s excellent, but it actually seems like it will disappoint as far as fantasy is concerned. Her 8.5% ace rate is elite for a WTA player, but her 5% DF rate is only average. She will not really lose or gain points on serve. 

Overall, Pliskova is worth playing for the blowout potential alone. She has an extremely soft matchup and could crush here, but at a salary of $10,900, she’s a worse value than Tsitsipas overall. Save her for GPPs.

Taylor Fritz ($9,500, -410)

In a slate that is lacking in big value servers like Isner and Opelka, Taylor Fritz is a nice option to at least generate some value on the serve side. On the year, he has an ace percentage of 13.2% that seems to only be climbing higher, and his double fault rate is about as good as it gets at 2.5%. He has as good of a shot as anyone to hit both the 15+ ace and the 0 double fault bonuses. 

Fritz’s issue is his has been streaky at times and his year’s numbers have been merely average as a result: a 7-10 record with a .97 DR on the year vs. rank 10-100 opponents on hard looks backwards. However, his 5-5, 1.07 numbers in 2020 as well as a finals run in Acapulco still scream to me that he’s still an above average tour level competitor. 

His opponent, Dominik Koepfer, has not played a lot versus top 100 guys but has at least not embarrassed himself when he has. His 1-3 record and .89 DR for the year lines up perfectly with his 5-16, .89 DR career numbers. He will make his opponents work, but seems like a longshot to actually pick up a W unless his opposition plays lower level tennis.

Overall, I expect Fritz will win this comfortably in 3-4 sets, and his strong service game will help him put up a competitive score even if Koepfer steals a set. 

Jack Sock ($8,200, -160)

Sock’s opponent, Cuevas, has a 3-9 record sub-.80 DR vs. top 100 opponents for the year on hard courts. The especially fast pace of the New York courts should only tilt the conditions further in Sock’s favor.

For sure, there is a lot that can go wrong here. Cuevas was palatable though not great in Cincinnati, meaning he may have made the proper adjustments to perform at a more reasonable level than his yearly stats suggest. Sock also has some fitness concerns, since he is not far removed from injury and has not gotten to play a match on these fast New York courts yet. Still, Sock played great in World Team Tennis exhibition play and seems poised for a rebound. If he plays at a solid level while Cuevas plays as badly on New York’s hard courts as usual, Sock could provide a quality win for a quality price.

Quick Dog Picks

Ajla Tomljanovic ($7,100, +140)

Kerber is a far more accomplished player than Tomljanovic, but her hard court stats on the year are poor (3-7 .93 DR), and she has not played a match since the Australian Open. While far from a sure thing, Tomljanovic enters with similar numbers on the year (5-8 .92 DR) and has the benefit of two WTA appearances since the return on play, including 3 sets on these very fast New York Open courts. 

Egor Gerasimov ($6,700, +125)

His opponent, Lajovic, has weaker numbers on hard courts for the year despite a higher ATP ranking. (13-7 1.08 for Gerasimov with the usual filters, vs 7-9 .98 for Lajovic.) Gerasimov is coming off a brutal 6-1 6-3 loss to Wolf in Cincinnati quallies, but I’ll be happy to take my chances on a rebound at this rate.

Anna Friedsam ($6,300, +150)

Friedsam is coming off a rough loss to the average at best Ahn, but she still has a winning record against top 100 talent for the year on hard. Dolehide, an American, might be slightly better acquainted with these New York courts, but her 1-5 record and .88 DR on the year fail to impress.

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