We’re down to the quarterfinals in Dubai. The final eight contenders are set to battle with spots in the semifinals at stake.
However, despite the number of players in the field growing smaller and smaller, there are a couple places where I’ve found some betting value.
Let’s take a look at my detailed analysis and insight two matches on Thursday’s card worth thinking about.
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Petra Kvitova (-113) vs. Elena Ostapenko (-113)
5 a.m. ET
Petra Kvitova seems to be finally finding some form once again. The Czech beat Aryna Sabalenka, 6-4, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals.
Kvitova won 74% of the points on her first serve, while serving 62% of her first serves into play. This is Kvitova’s second match in a row winning at least 70% of her first-serve points, which is a far cry from the 50% of first serves she won last week in her loss to Irina-Camelia Begu in St. Petersburg.
For Kvitova, beating Sabalenka and Camila Giorgi (in her first Dubai match) is a welcomed relief after a tough start to the season. While Kvitova’s baseline game is by no means steady at this point, she’s been able to connect on enough powerful serves and groundstrokes that she’s overwhelmed her opponents with power.
Jelena Ostapenko also knows a thing or two about power tennis. Ostapenko took out Iga Swiatek from a set down, beating her 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4) in three sets.
Ostapenko’s return game is thriving, as Swiatek only won 44% of the points on her first serve. Overall, Swiatek won 47% of her service points and was broken on nine occasions, with Ostapenko generating 22 break points.
Ostapenko is in a great rhythm from the baseline, which helps explain the gaudy return numbers I just discussed. Last week in St. Petersburg, she also experienced success, making the semifinals before losing to Anett Kontaveit. However, despite the loss, the Latvian was ripping huge groundstrokes fairly consistently and used her backhand to wreak havoc on her opponents’ games.
And as Swiatek and her first-round opponent Sofia Kenin learned, it’s very difficult to play Ostapenko in this form.
While Kvitova is starting to play better in Dubai, Ostapenko in her current form is a step-up in competition from playing the erratic Giorgi and Sabalenka, despite the fact the latter is still technically the No. 2 player in the world.
Ostapenko’s baseline game is at a much higher level at the moment compared to the play of Kvitova, and I’m still not convinced from her matches that her erratic play to start the year is completely gone.
While Kvitova’s huge lefty game will be tricky for Ostapenko to handle, I trust the Latvian to control her power game at this point.
Pick: Ostapenko ML (-113 via PointsBet)
Marketa Vondrousova (-165) vs. Dayana Yastremska (+128)
11 a.m. ET
Marketa Vondrousova played a great match in the round of 16 against Varvara Gracheva, defeating the Russian in straight sets by 6-2, 6-0 scores.
Vondrousova played well during the match, winning 79% of her first-serve points and getting broken only once. On return, she won 72% of her return points, with Gracheva only taking 27% of her own first-serve points. Vondrousova broke the Gracheva serve six times in the match.
However, the Czech was lucky to even get the chance to play Gracheva at all. While she did qualify for the tournament, which included impressive victories over Claire Liu and Yulia Putintseva, Vondrousova was down a set to Danielle Collins before the American had to retire injured during the second set.
Dayana Yastremska has completely turned her season around. In her latest victory, Yastremska beat world No. 3 player Barbora Krejcikova in a convincing 6-3, 7-6(3) win to move on.
Yastremska won 75% of her first-serve points and saved 4/5 break points on her own serve during the victory. She also took advantage of both break points she saw on the Krejcikova serve, winning 2/2 of the break points she generated.
Yastremska was just 2-3 on the season coming into Dubai, but has played incredible power tennis this week. She has beaten impressive players such as Krejcikova, Clara Tauson (in qualifying), and Irina-Camelia Begu, who made the semifinals of St. Petersburg last week.
When Yastremska is in this form, it’s very hard to beat her, as she can suffocate opponents with her baseline game and force them to play much more defensive and reactive than usual.
While Vondrousova can counterpunch well, she struggled against a big hitter in Collins before her injury stopped her from competing. In addition, the courts seem a bit quicker than what would typically suit Vondrousova’s game, which plays to Yastremska’s advantage.
Don’t be fooled that Yastremska is world No. 146 ranking, though. She’s a significantly better player than that number suggests.
Pick: Yastremska +2.5 Games (-115 via PointsBet)