Australian Open Women's Semifinals Betting Guide: Wednesday 1/25/23
The first tennis Grand Slam of 2023 is already upon us! The women's semifinals of the Australian Open take place on Wednesday, and what better way to get in on the action than by making some wagers on the tennis odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Where can we find the most betting value tonight?
Elena Rybakina vs. Victoria Azarenka
Elena Rybakina -3.5 Games (-112)
Elena Rybakina 2-0 Sets (+120)
Based on Tennis Abstract's Elo ratings, this match should be closer to a toss-up, as they give Elena Rybakina a 52.3% chance of defeating Victoria Azarenka. But Rybakina is a -215 moneyline favorite for a reason.
That's because she's playing her best tennis at just the right time. One of the best servers on tour, Rybakina has logged a double-digit ace rate in four of her five matches during this Australian Open run, most recently boasting a ridiculous 17.2% clip against Jelena Ostapenko. Unsurprisingly, this has helped her take the vast majority of her first serve points, winning 76% or better in all five matches.
Rybakina has dropped just one set all tournament, and it's not like she's faced cupcake opponents, defeating Danielle Collins (No. 13 seed), Iga Swiatek (No. 1), and Ostapenko (No. 17). She's faced just 17 break points all tourney, with 8 of those coming in this last round versus Ostapenko -- and all Rybakina did was save 7 of them.
This isn't to downplay Azarenka's form, as she's coming off an emphatic win over No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula in straight sets, and she also bested No. 10 seed Madison Keys in the third round.
However, she hasn't been nearly as dominant on serve, recording a sub-4.0% ace rate in her last four matches, which included two outings with zero aces. She's also faced far more break points (32) than Rybakina, and 25 of those have come over the last three matches, leading to 11 breaks of serve.
While Azarenka has returned serve well in this tournament, Rybakina's massive serve advantage should allow her to overpower her opponent. Rybakina has also won their lone head-to-head, beating Azarenka in straight sets last year at Indian Wells.
Given that there isn't much value on the moneyline, siding with Rybakina to cover the 3.5-game spread feels like the better wager, and picking her to win in straight sets nets an even bigger potential return.
Aryna Sabalenka vs. Magda Linette
Aryna Sabalenka 2-0 Sets (-145)
Under 20.5 Total Match Games (-112)
Aryna Sabalenka is a perfect 9-0 to begin 2023 with a championship at Adelaide 1 already in her back pocket. This sure looks like her tournament to win, and she's the favorite to do so, per FanDuel Sportsbook.
The big story has been Sabalenka's improved serve, an area she's previously lacked consistency. It's hard to argue with the results so far this year, with improvements in ace rate (9.9%), double-fault rate (7.2%), and first-serve points won (75.0%). She's yet to drop a set since the new season began.
All that being said, we have to acknowledge that last night's win over Donna Vekic wasn't nearly as smooth as the final score would suggest. While Sabalenka posted an excellent 11.5% ace rate, that came alongside an 11.5% double-fault rate, and she needed to save 12-of-14 break points faced to weather the storm. While Sabalenka still won 70.5% of her first-serve points, she won just 35.3% of her second serves, easily her worst mark of the tournament.
Perhaps this opens the door for Magda Linette to continue her Cinderella run. After failing to advance past the third round at any prior Grand Slam, Linette in the semifinals after beating four straight seeded players, including No. 4 Caroline Garcia. Linette has faced only 19 break points over the two weeks.
However, this feels like a matchup where Sabalenka's serve would really have to go off the rails for her to lose. Linette hasn't been nearly as dominant on her serve, with a 4.3% ace rate and 68.6% first-serve win rate this year, which could put her in a tough spot against Sabalenka, a player who's won 46.3% of her return points, including 50.0% or more in three of her five Australian Open matches.
Sabalenka has also dominated their head-to-head, winning 6-1, 6-3 in 2018 and 6-2, 6-1 most recently at the 2021 Olympics.
This will be Salalenka's fourth semifinal appearance at a Grand Slam -- including last year's US Open -- but after going 0-3 in those prior attempts, she should finally break through to her first final. Per Tennis Abstract, she has a 77.2% win probability over Linette. With Sabalenka priced as a -440 favorite, it isn't worth touching the moneyline, but betting her to win in straight sets or under 20.5 total match games are ways to squeeze out more value.