Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Kristina Mladenovic
Last season looked to have produced the breakthrough Grand Slam for Kristina Mladenovic as a Singles player when reaching the US Open Quarter Final. However she has failed to find the consistency to back up that run and this is a very difficult Second Round match for the Frenchwoman.
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This time last year I am not sure many would have picked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to be the higher Ranked player, but the Russian is back inside the top 20 in the World Rankings. 2016 has proven to be a solid year for Pavlyuchenkova, especially the latter half of the year so far and she will believe she can match the 34 Tour wins of 2015.
The serve has been working well for Pavlyuchenkova for the most part, although her limited movement around the court is always a concern. However I don’t think Mladenovic is the most athletic either and she hasn’t had a great summer on the hard courts while dealing with the expectation after a Quarter Final run here.
Back in 2012 Mladenovic did crush Pavlyuchenkova at the US Open as a huge underdog. They are seen as much more closely matched this time, but I expect Pavlyuchenkova to ride the momentum at key times to make sure she wins this one 63, 36, 63.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova -2.5 Games @ 1.85 with Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokerage
Samantha Stosur v Shuai Zhang
Friends and Doubles partners Samantha Stosur and Shuai Zhang will be meeting in another Grand Slam Singles tournament in 2016.
They played one another at the French Open where Stosur proved too good in a straight sets win and I think the Australian can make it two in a row against someone she will be familiar with. Of course that familiarity means Zhang will also be a little more used to dealing with the Stosur serve which is a big weapon for the Australian, but I think that is still going to be the key shot in this Second Round match.
If Stosur can get enough from that shot, it gives her the confidence to attack her opponent as she did in her win over Camila Giorgi. That was a battling display from Stosur, the former US Open Champion, against a dangerous opponent and I think she will know there won’t be as many blistering winners going past her in this one.
Zhang had a special run at the Australian Open where she reached the Quarter Final after coming through the Qualifiers, but she is just 7-7 in main Tour matches on the hard courts since then. The Chinese player had been well documented as never winning a Grand Slam match prior to the run at the Australian Open, but she was beaten early at the French Open and Wimbledon, while her win in the First Round came against an overmatched opponent.
The friendship will be put aside for a couple of hours and I think Stosur will record a similar win to the one at the French Open and win this one 64, 63.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Samantha Stosur -4.5 Games @ 2.07 with Unibet
Carla Suarez Navarro v Jelena Jankovic
It doesn’t feel that long ago since Jelena Jankovic would head into the US Open as one of the real threats to go on and win the tournament. She never quite got over the line to replicate what compatriots Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic have done by winning a Grand Slam and it has now been thirteen Grand Slam tournaments since Jankovic last reached the Quarter Final.
There is a definite downward trend in the Jankovic career and her slip to Number 40 in the World Rankings shows that. Once upon a time she was reaching the business end of Grand Slam events regularly, but Jankovic has only surpassed the Second Round once in the last two years and she has four First Round losses in Slams to her name.
Jankovic is going to be pushed to the limit by Carla Suarez Navarro in this match and I think the Spaniard is going to be far too strong for her at this moment in their careers. While Suarez Navarro doesn’t have the biggest serve, she is able to move the ball around the court consistently and will be able to hit through an opponent whose movement has lost half a step.
Over the last twelve months we have still seen signs of the Jankovic of old, but they have been fewer and fewer in 2016. Nowadays she is losing to players she would have beaten fairly easily in her prime, and Suarez Navarro is the superior player in this contest. If she can just hold onto her serve through a couple of negative moments, I think the Spaniard is able to come through with a 64, 63 win.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Carla Suarez Navarro -4.5 Games @ 1.87 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.