It’s time for the first WTA 1000 event on clay in Madrid! We have a great slate of matches to get the tournament off to a good start.
I’ve found two spots on the order of play where value has presented itself.
Read on for two plays to think about from Thursday’s matches in Madrid.
Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.
Yulia Putintseva (-166) vs. Shelby Rogers (+136)
9:30 am ET
Yulia Putintseva did well to make the semifinals of Istanbul in her most recent tournament. However, Putintseva lost in three sets to Anastasia Potapova in that semifinal match.
Putintseva broke serves 21 times in her four matches in Turkey. The combination of Putintseva’s heavy forehand and excellent speed around the court make her tough to hit through on the clay. Putintseva is also able to consistently get the ball deep in the court and not allow her opponents to attack.
The Kazakh has a 132-72 record on the dirt and has also won two WTA singles titles on clay. She’s also reached the Roland Garros quarterfinals two times. An underrated part of Putintseva’s game is her variety of lei, as her drop shots of lei are very effective in keeping opponents’ off-balance.
Shelby Rogers has lost three matches in a row and looks out of form. In her most recent defeat of her, she fell to Katarina Zavatska 3-6, 4-6 in Billie Jean King Cup.
Rogers’ last three matches have come in three totally different conditions. She lost to Kudermetova on a humid outdoor hard court, to Kanepi on the green clay of Charleston, and now to Zavatska on an indoor hard court. It’s clear that Rogers is struggling to gain a rhythm from the baseline.
Rogers’ second serve has been an issue recently too, as she only won 40% or less of those points in all three of her recent losses. Butmore than that, Rogers has looked erratic from the baseline and unsure of her groundstrokes, and she seems to lack confidence in her game di lei.
Putintseva is a very good clay courter and has gotten a good amount of match practice on the dirt, having made the Istanbul semifinals.
On the other hand, Rogers lost her only clay match of the season on the green clay of Charleston and has not looked like herself in recent matches. It’s not like Rogers thrives on the clay, going just 5-6 last season.
In addition, while Putintseva’s overall Elo rating is 42.3 points better than Rogers ‘, her clay-court Elo is 101.8 points better than Rogers’.
Pick: Putintseva -2.5 games (-118 via FanDuel)
Amanda Anisimova (+102) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (-124)
9:30 am ET
Amanda Anisimova performed well in her last tournament on the green clay of Charleston. Anisimova was a set away from the final before falling to Ons Jabeur in three sets.
She won at least 55% of her second-serve returns in every Charleston match. Anisimova also broke serve a combined 24 times over the course of the week and played terrific baseline tennis, balancing offense and defense perfectly.
Anisimova has a 67% winning percentage on clay during her career, and she won her first WTA Tour title in 2019 on the clay of Bogota. In addition, she made her di lei only Grand Slam semifinal at the 2019 French Open. Anisimova does a great job of absorbing power on clay and holding onto the baseline.
Aryna Sabalenka made the final of Stuttgart in her most recent tournament. However, Sabalenka fell 2-6, 2-6 to Iga Swiatek in that final.
Sabalenka did a great job of attacking her opponents’ second serves in Stuttgart, as she won over 50% of her second-serve returns in every match.
Until Sabalenka played Swiatek in the final, she had won at least 70% of her service points in each match. The game style Sabalenka plays with puts a lot of pressure on her opponents to be perfect.
Clay is not Sabalenka’s best surface, but the altitude in Madrid should help her. With that said, there’s nothing like the slick, fast clay in Stuttgart which suits the Belarusian’s game as well as a clay court could. The conditions in Stuttgart allowed Sabalenka to effectively play her ultra-aggressive brand of tennis.
Anisimova’s game matches up well against Sabalenka’s, which helps explain the 3-0 head to head between the two. In fact, Anisimova beat Sabalenka in three sets recently in Charleston.
At plus-money, I’ll back the American to allow Sabalenka to become erratic and throw this match away.
Pick: Anisimova ML (+102 via FanDuel)
How would you rate this article?