The rain could be the biggest challenge for the singles semifinalists at the Charleston Open on Daniel Island, South Carolina today. Long delays do different things to different players and the conditions could indeed affect the outcomes of these seminal semis.
According to the WTA, Jessica Pegula has never taken a set from defending champion Belinda Bencic, and the American is 0-2 against top 20 players on clay in her career. Meanwhile, Bencic is 3-0 against Pegula (including the Tokyo Olympics) and is on the cusp of becoming the first back-to-back titleholder in Charleston since Serena Williams dominated in 2012-2013.
So why, oh why, is Pegula a favorite in this match with Vegas at -132? The pair have both played seven sets of tennis to get here, with both facing their toughest challenges in the Round of 16, where Pegula stunned Begu and Bencic overcame Rogers. Bencic should not be an underdog of any kind, no matter how slight, over the top seed. The edge is even here, but Bencic is a better bet due to the odds.
The Jabeur-Kasatkina is a slightly different story with Jabeur as a clear favorite to win today (-180). Jabeur hasn’t dropped a set in Chucktown, and in fact, hasn’t even played 6 sets of tennis since Anna Kalinskaya retired at 4-1 in the second set of her quarterfinal match. Kasatkina destroyed Madison Brengle in the second round, before winning very competitive matches against the very competitive Bernarda Pera and Vika Azarenka.
2 seed Jabeur is still looking for her first top 10 win of the season but has taken four in a row from world #8 Kasatkina, and I expect a three set thriller in this one with a slight edge to the Tunisian to play in the final for a second straight year. Kasatkina is still a decent bet at +150, because she will have more than a chance to win.
It’s the first time that a WTA 500 tournament has had all four top seeds in the semifinals in eleven years. That should offer spectators very intriguing matches today, tonight or whenever the rain abates. It’s 57 and drizzly now. Be patient and buckle up.
–S. Fogleman and T. Callaio