The US Open first round play continues tomorrow, which means more huge slates and huge prize pools. There are simply too many matches to cover, but here are some of my favorite picks for tomorrow to get you started. Be sure to leave a comment or join up with DFS Analytics’s premium chat if you have any questions or thoughts, and good luck in tomorrow’s contest!
Format: Player Name (Draftkings Salary, Fanduel Salary, American Betting Odds)
Victoria Azarenka ($10,500, $23, -1300)
Tomorrow’s slate features an absurd amount of matches with heavy favorites and lots of blowout potential. There are a whopping 9 matches to choose from that are all $10,500+ in salary and are -1000 favorites. Azarenka is the cheapest of the bunch, is priced as a massive -1300 vegas on betting sites, and has an unbelievably high games handicap of 7. It’s going to be very difficult to pick the highest scoring player in this crowded of a pricing tier, but Azarenka indeed seems well positioned to be a solid value.
I am a little concerned that bettors are overrating Azarenka for her Cincinnati run, but there’s no doubt that she played great during the tournament, and her prowess and familiarity with the courts should prove to be a tangible advantage. She now holds a 5-2 record on the year with a 1.07 DR, which is a far cry from her dominant peak but respectable in its own right. Her opponent, Barbara Haas, has a career 3-12 record and .88 DR against top 100 competition on hard courts. Both players profile as better returners as servers, which is fantastic for Azarenka. She should be in a good spot to hold serve based on her talent level alone while constantly pressuring Haas on her serve, which would result in the type of blowouts the betting numbers suggest.
On Fanduel, Azarenka is a whopping $23. With salary relief options not being plentiful, she is mostly a pass for me there even if she still should put up a great score.
Elise Mertens ($9,900, $20, -580)
While I think you could make a case for a lot of the elite options on Draftkings (even with the double faults and high price, you gotta love the combination of aces and return game from Raonic!), Mertens is by far my favorite play in this salary tier. Her raw numbers, 17-7 and 1.28 DR against top 100 hard court opponents the past year, are some of the best in the entirety of the WTA. This is in part due to her excellent return game, encompassed by her 41 break percentage of the year and something I am excited to capitalize on for fantasy.
Mertens faces off against Laura Siegemund, who has been okay if not unremarkable the past year: 5-5 with a .99 DR. (However, it’s worth noting that she was only 6-14 with a .90 from 2018-2019.) As far as players go on the slate, Siegemund is not the most attackable, but Merten’s talent more than makes up for that and this could easily be a Mertens blowout.
On Fanduel, Mertens is expensive yet manageable at $20. She pairs easily with a $13-14 punt option and can fill in as your elite play without breaking the bank.
Karen Khachanov ($8,900, $17,-190)
Okay, I get it, Sinner is a legitimate ATP prospect, has broken into the top 100, and continues to make strides in his game. He has a decent 1 DR against rank 10-100 opponents on hard, and may even be a little bit unlucky with his 6-9 record for the year. However, Khachanov has just been better with his 17-12 record and 1.09 DR. Khachanov also had a solid run last week, should have a good feel for these New York Courts, and should be in good form. This is more than I can say for Sinner, who got upset by Caruso in 3 sets in his lone Cincinnati performance. I expect Sinner to keep this match competitive, but Khachanov seems a little too cheap for his odds. He is a little better of a play on Fanduel, where his $17 places him cozily in the middle of the pack in terms of salary.
Quick Value Plays
Christopher O’Connell ($8,000, $17, -140)
There is nothing more satisfying in fantasy tennis than picking on mediocre veterans, particularly with a young gun. Djere is not too bad on clay, but he has struggled on hard courts throughout his career. He continued the trend the past year, where he’s played to the tune of a 2-5 record and .85 DR against rank 10-100 players on hard courts. O’Connell is not a stud, but he has at least proven to be comfortable on hard courts with his 21-10 record and 1.11 DR the past year (in mostly challenger level play, though he is 2-2 against top 100 players), but he only needs to be decent to comfortably beat Djere and provide good value, particularly on Draftkings.
Jeffrey Jan Wolf ($7,900, $16, -160)
Wolf faces off against Pella, who has not played since February and has not been especially great on hard courts lately (6-10 record with a .93 DR the past year against rank 10-100 opponents, though he was at least above average in 2018-2019). Wolf has multiple matches on these courts and should be comparatively very warm compared to Pella. He is a solid prospect that has gone 3-1 against top 100 players in his young career so far and definitely has the game to beat Pella if he is not in good form. His status as a salary saving favorite makes him an appealing option on both Draftkings and Fanduel.
Corentin Moutet ($7,700, $16, -125)
Another salary saving favorite, Moutet is sure to be popular but is in a good spot to win his match. His 7-3 record and .98 DR on the year is only slightly preferable to Vesely’s 4-3 and 1.03, but Vesely’s recent tallies are a likely aberration after a brutal 5-14 run in 2018-2019. Neither player has gotten to play in a match on these quick New York courts yet, but Moutet should be relatively fresher from his experience on the Ultimate Tennis Showdown hard courts, while Vesely has not played a match besides on Clay since pre-Covid. Overall, I view Moutet as a better player that is better suited to these faster court conditions, and he may even deserve to be priced as more than a -125 favorite. He seems like a great value on both sites.
Claire Liu ($5,700, $13, +160)
There is not a ton to like about Liu as a player, but with all of the lopsided matches tomorrow, there are understandably not a lot of underdog picks that stand out. Only 20 years old, Claire’s career stats against top 100 opponents on hard is not great: a 3-11 record and .89 dominance ratio. However, there is a reason why I am backing her as an upset play and why she is priced at +160 to win: her opponent, Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Tormo is the type of player that fantasy grinders love to pick on. While her return game is not bad, her service game is absolutely atrocious. She double faults more than any WTA regular and struggles to hold serve about as much as anyone as a result. She is not the worst player out there on hard (4-6 with a .93 DR on the year vs. top 100 opponents), but she may have one of the lowest floors out there. Unlike Liu, Tormo has not played on hard courts since March. Liu could get the jump on her and pull a surprising result.
Katrina Scott ($5,600, $12, +200)
If you really want to get ugly with your dart throws, I have a play for you. Only 16 years old, Scott is a junior level player. I can only assume she is pretty talented, seeing as she got a wild card for the US Open. She also has a 11.98 UTR rating, the second highest of American women aged in the juniors behind the obvious Coco Gauff.
The reason why I am considering her at all is Vikhlyantseva may not deserve to be a -250 favorite even against the youngster. She has struggled against top 100 competition. Her 15-35 record screams borderline caliber pro, and her 0-7 record the past year suggests she is not even playing up to her normally mediocre level. (In her defense, she has shown signs of life with a respectable 10-3 record against lower ranked opponents.) Also, while Scott at least played some exhibitions in June, Vikh has not played a pro match since March. Overall, Vikhyantseva really should win this match, but she also seems primed to underperform against the up-and-comer.