Semifinals Saturday Arrives at Volvo Car Open with A Surprising Field
In 10 years of covering the WTA Charleston event, I haven’t seen so many upsets over the course of a week. Gone are the days when Serena Williams would come through and pencil in a spot in the final. Even World #1 Ashleigh Barty couldn’t take advantage of the gaping holes in the field as she fell to Paula Badosa yesterday, 6-3, 6-3. A resurgent Sloane Stephens sputtered against Victoria Kudermetova, 6-3, 6-4. After beating #3 seed Petra Kvitova the day before, Danka Kovinic found a way to advance against the plucky and lucky Yulia Putintseva, 6-7(2), 7-5, 6-1. Ons Jabeur (#12) was the highest-seeded player left in the tournament before stunning a sluggish Coco Gauff, 6-3, 6-3.
That sets up four players who have never won a WTA tour level title and yet are this close to taking home the most impressive trophies of their collective careers. If you looked at this field before the tournament began, you’d have plenty of educated guesses on who would hoist the hardware, from Kvitova, Barty, Stephens, Kenin, Muguruza, Keys, Bencic, Mertens or Bertens. But no.
Instead, you’ve got a semifinal field that could pose for a couple of Charleston qualifying finals just a few years back. Still, you’ve got to believe that Ons Jabeur’s experience and momentum will propel her to a berth in the final when she steps on court against Danka Kovinic later today. She’s a deserved -239 favorite, and even though the unimaginable has already happened this week, the green clay dust of uncertainty will certainly settle today.
The match between Badosa and Kudermetova is a little more unpredictable.
Although the Russian owns a 2-0 head to head against Badosa, the lower-ranked Spaniard has beaten the better players this week and is the tournament’s leader in aces with 24. It’s also Kudermetova’s first semifinal on clay. I’m going with Badosa, a +110 underdog in this match.
The parlay: Jabeur (-239) & Badosa (+110) for a +197 payout