Victoria Azarenka

Wednesday is Mother’s Day at the US Open. Victoria Azarenka is one of three mothers in action. Photo by @TennisWorlden
(Twitter).

  • Wednesday in New York City sees two Women’s Quarterfinals taking place at the US Open
  • Six-time champion Serena Williams has a noon date with Tsvetana Pironkova
  • Two-time major champ Victoria Azarenka battles Elise Mertens

With the notable exception of Serena Williams, women’s tennis tends to be a sport where it is beneficial to be young. The last four major champs have been 23 years of age or less. Wednesday in New York the veterans will have their day.

At 24 years old, Elise Mertens is the youngest competitor in Wednesday’s quarters by seven years. As you handicap the matches, do you want youth, experience, recent form, or should we dive into the individual matchup history? Let’s do all of that an see what value is present.

US Open Men’s Singles Round of 16 Odds

Player Odds at DraftKings
Tsvetana Pironkova +390
Serena Williams -530
Player Odds
Victoria Azarenka -121
Elise Mertens +100

All odds taken Sept. 8th

Since Serena won the Australian Open in 2017, 12 majors have been won by 10 players. Only Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka have multiple victories. In other words, upsets happen, and players lacking hype win. That said, Williams is not exactly facing an up-and-comer.

Tsvetana Pironkova vs Serena Williams

You can be forgiven if you do not know, or remember a great deal about Pironkova. A 32-year-old veteran who has pulled a few notable upsets over the years, she is just returning from three years off after giving birth to a son. She has never been to a major final.

Pironkova’s best surface is probably grass, and she made the 2010 Wimbledon semifinals. She reached a quarterfinal in 2016 at the French Open. This is her 12th US Open. She advanced past the third round just once, in 2012, before this year’s run.

Pironkova did not drop a set during her first three matches this year, and after losing a second set tiebreak to Alizé Cornet, took care of her 6-3 in the third set on Monday.

Williams is 4-0 all-time against Pironkova, but they have not met in five years. Serena does not have a major title since having her first child.

Serena won her first two US Open matches in straight sets, but rallied to get by Sloane Stephens, and dropped a second set tiebreak before getting by Maria Sakkari in the fourth round.

It feels strange that Williams, the top draw in the sport, is playing at noon. She is a deserving heavy favorite but isn’t reliable enough at this stage in her career to expect dominance. We think Pironkova finds a way to win a set and getting better than 3-1 for an exact score of Serena two sets, and Pironkova one has some value.

Selection: Williams wins match 2-1 (+325)

Victoria Azarenka vs Elise Mertens

Between injuries, time off to have a baby, and struggles to regain her top form, Azarenka is seeking her first major semifinal since 2013.

A two-time major champ, and twice the runner at the US Open, Azarenka has won nine consecutive matches. Unseeded in New York, she won her first three matches in straight sets including knocking out fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka. She rallied from a set behind to eliminate Karolina Muchova to advance to the quarters.

Azarenka is meeting Mertens for the first time. The young left-hander reached the quarters at the US Open last year. Her deepest major run came to the semis in Australia in 2018.

Interestingly, two years ago Mertens and Sabalenka won the doubles title in New York beating Azarenka and Barty in the final.

Mertens has not dropped a set at the US Open this year and easily knocked out second-seeded Kenin in the fourth round.

While Azarenka’s comeback is a terrific story, she is the favorite in part because of name recognition. Mertens is playing every bit as well and offers value to advance to the semis.

Selection: Mertens (+100)

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