WTA Berlin continues to produce excellent tennis and I expect it to continue on Thursday!
I have found value in two of Thursday’s great matches – Gauff vs. Alexandrova and Sakkari vs. Sasnovich.
Read on for my WTA Berlin picks.
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WTA Berlin Odds, Picks
Coco Gauff (-150) vs Ekaterina Alexandrova (+124)
After winning Rosmalen title last week, Ekaterina Alexandrova beat Liudmilla Samsonova 6-4, 6-3 to start her Berlin campaign. Despite winning only 41% of her second serves, Alexandrova won 74% of her first serves and was broken just twice. Alexandrova also won 46% of her return points, including 58% on Samsonova’s second serve, where she broke four times.
After beating Samsonova, Alexandrova is now 6-0 on this grass seasonthat has only fallen a set. For her career, Alexandrova is an impressive 29-14 on grass. The Russian’s game is well suited to grass as she has a big first serve and plays with an aggressive style from the baseline. Alexandrova tries to take the initiative in rallies, especially with her forehand, although her backhand can be inconsistent.
Coco Gauff defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 6-4 to start her grass season. Gauff won 72% of his service points and went unbroken. The American won just 22% of her first serve returns, although she won 48% of her second serve returns, breaking twice.
Gauff is now 16-5 on grass as a professional, although it is still a sample size. Her powerful first serve is dangerous on grass and she is able to dictate with her backhand.
But I don’t think Gauff’s game will be that long term also success on grass. She plays too defensively and relies too much on her movement to consistently beat the best grass players. And opponents are able to rush her weak forehand.
Alexandrova was fine physically against Samsonova and has spent much more time on the grass compared to Gauff. On such a niche surface, having the extra tournament is a big deal for the Russian.
Gauff had some games against a significantly worse serve in Siniakovas in the first round and now has to face Alexandrova’s huge serve. The Russian also has the pace on his groundstrokes to speed up Gauff’s forehand, which should force errors and short balls from that wing.
Additionally, if Gauff tries to play too defensively, as she has for much of this season, Alexandrova’s power (and surface) will burn her.
Pick: Alexandrova +2.5 games (-125 via FanDuel)
Maria Sakkari (-275) vs Aliaksandra Sasnovich (+205)
11:00 a.m. ET
Maria Sakkari took down Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-2 to advance in Berlin. Sakkari won just 55% of her service points, although she saved 13-of-15 break points. On the return, the Greek won 50% of his return points, breaking Cornet’s serve on five occasions.
Sakkari is now a solid 25-17 on grass for her career. The Greek relies on his heavy forehand, court coverage and fitness, a style not naturally suited to grass. However, Sakkari is trying to mix things up and step up more in the field on the surface. But Sakkari’s opponents are often able to rush her forehand and target her backhand. Additionally, opponents are able to keep the ball out of her strike zone, leading to a decrease in rally tolerance.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich continued her grass success in 2023, beating Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-4 to kick off Berlin. Sasnovich won 63% of his service points and was broken only once. Despite winning just 27% of her first serve returns, the Belarusian won 50% of her second serve returns (helped by eight Azarenka double faults) and broke three times.
Sasnovich is now 4-1 this year on grass, although she is only 18-18 for her career. That said, Sasnovich’s game translates well to grass. The Belarusian hits her spots on serve and tries to be aggressive with her groundstrokes, especially with her forehand, although she can lose control of her groundstrokes at points.
But where Sasnovich’s game really excels on grass is her use of variation, particularly her backhand slice. The Belarusian does a fantastic job of keeping the ball out of his opponents’ end zones, moving the ball around and utilizing his excellent touch.
If Cornet had converted his break points it would have been a completely different match and I don’t expect a similar clutch performance from Sakkari here. Her forehand is sitting on the grass and the Belarusian should be able to rush Sakkari on her forehand wing while effectively targeting her backhand.
Sasnovich’s court craft should also make Sakkari uncomfortable. The Greek should struggle to dig Sasnovich’s slices out of the grass and become frustrated as she presses her groundstrokes.
Pick: Sasnovich +1.5 set (-135 via PointsBet)
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