The 2016 US Open took a shocking twist when world number one Serena Williams was dispatched from the tournament by tenth seed Karolina Pliskova on Thursday. Some analysts had expected to see a third Grand Slam final between Williams and world number two Angelique Kerber in 2016, but only the German was able to qualify.
So, with Williams departing early, Kerber now faces underdog Pliskova in trying to win the second Grand Slam of her career. There could be more twists to come in the thrilling women’s tournament, with fans given some interesting betting options over at NetBet.
Ahead of the US Open, Kerber knew if she made the final then Williams would have to win the tournament to maintain her number one status. Now that Williams is out, Kerber is guaranteed of topping the rankings and has already described the feeling, saying:
"To be number one in the world sounds amazing."
Kerber must wait until the end of the tournament before the rankings change. Meanwhile, she must remain focused while playing an opponent she might not have expected. After winning and losing a Grand Slam final to Williams in 2016, Kerber looked set for an epic decider, but now she must prepare as the 10/19 favourite with NetBet.
To Kerber’s credit, the ranking was already hers when she walked out to face former number one Caroline Wozniacki. With that knowledge in her mind, Kerber didn’t let it impact her performance, beating Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3.
Kerber made a determined start in the semi-final by twice breaking Wozniacki’s serve to build a 4-0 lead in the first set. Wozniacki then rebounded with a break to reach 4-3, but Kerber restored her serve and clinched two out of three games to claim a one-set lead.
In the second set, Kerber carried on her momentum by breaking two of Wozniacki’s first three serves to go 4-1 ahead. The Dane did battle back to 5-3, but Kerber was too far ahead and won the second set 6-3 by finishing on her serve.
Winning comfortably against Wozniacki was crucial for Kerber’s confidence, who might feel wary facing Pliskova after the Czech beat her in August’s Cincinnati Open final. Not only did Kerber lose in straight sets, but she also missed the chance to dethrone Williams as the number one.
Pliskova is building a reputation as a giant killer following her 2016 victories against Kerber and Williams, but it’s the latest win that proved more shocking. The 24-year-old did enter the semi-final on a ten-match winning streak, though some analysts still favoured Williams.
From the outset, Pliskova set a quick pace and took the first set 6-2 in just 26 minutes after twice breaking Williams. The second set was much tighter, with Pliskova getting a little nervy and giving up her 3-0 lead before recovering to 5-4. Ultimately, the second set finished 7-6 after a 7-5 tiebreaker decided by Williams’ double fault.
During the match, Pliskova displayed the power that has enabled her to lead women’s tennis with 446 aces so far in 2016. After Williams’ opening 95mph service ace, Pliskova had the strength to deliver a 113mph response. Crucially, the varied placement of Pliskova’s service game further complicated Williams’ returns.
Before 2016, Pliskova’s best Grand Slam performance came in reaching the second round of the 2015 French Open, but her 2016 Wimbledon semi-final and Cincinnati triumph gave her the self-belief to overcome Williams.
As a player, Pliskova is dependent on her powerful serve, while a six-foot-one-inch frame gives her the reach to return difficult shots. Add in the August win against Kerber and Pliskova looks like an interesting prospect to clinch the US Open women’s final.
NetBet considers Kerber to be the 10/19 favourite, while Pliskova has longer 6/4 odds, but there are lots of other betting markets for tennis fans to consider. Set betting is one example, with Kerber priced at 6/5 to win 2-0 and 12/5 for 2-1, while Pliskova is available at 29/10 for 2-0 and 7/2 for 2-1.
In other markets, Pliskova is worth 6/5 to win the first set and Kerber is 4/7, while the two are 6/5 and 10/17, respectively, for the second set. Meanwhile, backers of a tiebreak could benefit from 11/5 odds, but those going against would be better off with 20/67 if they are correct. For even more betting markets ahead of this Saturday’s US Open women's final, head over to NetBet Sports today!