Karen Khachanov to beat Alex Zverev at +250 at William Hill
Marketa Vondrousova to beat Belinda Bencic at -137 at William Hill
Elena Rybakina (-1.5) to beat Elina Svitolina on the game handicap at -118 at William Hill
|Olympic Games Tennis Information|
|What||Olympic Games, tennis|
|Location||Ariake Tennis Park, Tokyo, Japan|
|Time||Saturday July 24 to Sunday August 1|
|How to Watch||Olympic Channel|
Women’s bronze-medal match, Saturday
There’s little doubt that across the tournament as a whole, Rybakina has played the better tennis.
She won her first four matches in straight sets before squandering her opportunities in the semi-finals against Belinda Bencic, failing to convert any of her six set points in the first set and then losing from a break up in the decider.
She’ll need to put that out of her mind for Saturday’s bronze-medal play-off against Svitolina, who was blown away in her semi by Marketa Vondrousova, winning just four games.
The errors flowed from the Ukranian’s racquet in that match and it may be a performance more difficult to shake off.
Admittedly, Rybakina’s game is better suited to the counter-punching style of Svitolina, who struggled with the mixture thrown at her by Vondrousova.
Still, I believe Rybakina’s power will be able to punch holes in Svitolina’s game, particularly if she’s still struggling for feel, as clearly was the case on Thursday.
Rybakina won the pair’s most recent meeting at Eastbourne only last month (it’s 1-1 overall with no matches on hard) and I can see her adding another here.
I’ll take the -118 on the game handicap with Rybakina giving up 1.5 games.
Women’s gold-medal match, Saturday
Much has been said about the brutal conditions in Tokyo this week and they could well have a big part to play in Saturday’s women’s final.
Vondrousova has spent exactly six hours on court so far, whereas Bencic has needed more than nine and a half to get to this stage – she’s required a deciding set in her last three matches.
The Czech starts the slight favorite and that looks the right call.
She demolished Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals, very much backing up her impressive straight-sets victory over title favorite Naomi Osaka earlier in the tournament. She’s only lost one set so far, that came in the opening round. Most of her victories have been pretty comfortable.
Vondrousova’s drop shots and slices caused all sorts of problems for Svitolina, who completely lost her rhythm, and was picked off with passes when she did venture forward.
I’d expect a similar game plan here.
The pair have only met once previously and interestingly that was in Miami earlier this year, another venue where conditions get pretty humid.
Vondrousova edged to victory that day, winning 6-4 in the final set, and I’ll take her to repeat the trick here at -137.
Remarkably, she’s only won one tour-level title in her career so far – and that was four years ago – but importantly she has played in a match of this magnitude before.
She lost the 2019 French Open final to Ash Barty but that experience should benefit in this contest, particularly given Bencic hasn’t been to Slam final yet herself.
Men’s gold-medal match, Sunday
Zverev has been installed as a hot favorite for gold following his stunning upset of Novak Djokovic in Friday’s semi-final.
It was a remarkable turnaround from a set and a breakdown with the Zverev forehand causing a lot of damage, particularly on return of serve.
However, is a repeat guaranteed here?
Djokovic certainly felt there were other reasons for his loss, saying:
I just stopped. I allowed him to dictate. My first serve percentage was low.
I certainly think Zverev will do well to produce another exceptional winners-to-unforced-errors ratio and whereas he had almost nothing to lose on Friday, he’s now the one with the expectancy on his shoulders.
He certainly didn’t handle the pressure of last year’s US Open final well, throwing away a two-set lead, and essentially I think Khachanov is overpriced here.
He dismantled Pablo Carreno Busta impressively in the other semi-final, holding his serve throughout.
Importantly he’s also handed out two sound beatings to Zverev in their last two matches, both of which took place on a hardcourt. The German broke just once across the two meetings.
A big area in both of those matches was second-serve return – Khachanov won 68% points on Zverev’s second serve in Montreal in 2019 and a whopping 81% at the Paris Masters this year before.
Zverev is capable of keeping his first-serve percentage high but the pressure of the biggest match of his life makes that less likely than would normally be the case.
It’s not hard to see why the bookies have reacted to Zverev’s win in the way they have but Khachanov is playing well and I suggest he’s a value bet here at +250.
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Andy is a sports journalist of more than 20 years’ experience and is a former betting editor of the UK-based website, Sporting Life. He has specialized in tennis for many years, previewing hundreds of ATP Tour events and reporting from tournaments such as the ATP Finals and Davis Cup final. Andy has also covered numerous other sports, with a particular interest in soccer and cricket.More info on Andy Schooler
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