WTA Berlin continues to produce excellent tennis and I expect that to continue on Thursday!I’ve found value on two of Thursday’s fantastic matchups — Gauff vs. Alexandrova and Sakkari vs Sasnovich.
Read on for my WTA Berlin picks.
Note: Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches and seeing tennis odds.WTA Berlin Odds, Picks
Coco Gauff (-150) vs Ekaterina Alexandrova (+124)
5 a.m. ET
After winning the Rosmalen title last week, Ekaterina Alexandrova beat Liudmilla Samsonova 6-4, 6-3 to kick off her Berlin campaign. Despite winning just 41% of her second serves, Alexandrova won 74% of her first serves and was broken just twice. Alexandrova also won 46% of her return points, including 58% on Samsonova’s second serve, breaking four times.After beating Samsonova, Alexandrova is now 6-0 this grass season, having only dropped one set. For her career, Alexandrova is an impressive 29-14 on grass. The Russian’s game suits the grass well, as she has a big first serve and plays with an aggressive style from the baseline. Alexandrova tries to take the initiative in rallies, particularly with her forehand, although her backhand can be inconsistent.
Coco Gauff defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 6-4 to start her grass season. Gauff won 72% of her service points and went unbroken. The American won just 22% of her first serve returns, although she did win 48% of her second serve returns, breaking twice.Gauff is now 16-5 on grass as a professional, although that’s still a sample size. Her powerful first serve is dangerous on grass and she’s able to dictate with her backhand.But, I don’t think Gauff’s game will long-term be too successful on grass. She plays too defensively and relies too much on her movement to consistently beat the top grass players. And, opponents are able to rush her weak forehand.
Alexandrova was fine physically against Samsonova and has spent a lot more time on the grass compared to Gauff. On such a niche surface, having that extra tournament is a big deal for the Russian.Gauff had some struggles against a significantly worse serve in Siniakova’s in the first round and now has to face Alexandrova’s huge serve. The Russian also has the pace on her groundstrokes to rush Gauff’s forehand, which should force errors and short balls from that wing.Additionally, if Gauff tries to play too defensively, as she has for much of this season, Alexandrova’s power (and the surface) will burn her.
Pick: Alexandrova +2.5 games (-125 via FanDuel)
Maria Sakkari (-275) vs Aliaksandra Sasnovich (+205)
11 a.m. ET
Maria Sakkari took down Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-2 to advance in Berlin. Sakkari won just 55% of her service points, although she did save 13-of-15 break points. On return, the Greek won 50% of her return points, breaking Cornet’s serve on five occasions.Sakkari is now a solid 25-17 on grass for her career. The Greek relies on her heavy forehand, court coverage and fitness, a style that doesn’t naturally mesh on grass. However, Sakkari does try to mix things up and step up in the court more on the surface. But, Sakkari’s opponents are often able to rush her forehand and target her backhand. In addition, opponents are able to keep the ball out of her strike zone, leading to a decrease in rally tolerance.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich continued her 2023 grass success, beating Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-4 to kick off Berlin. Sasnovich won 63% of her service points and was broken just once. In addition, despite the Belarusian winning only 27% of her first serve returns, she won 50% of her second serve returns (aided by eight Azarenka double faults) and broke on three occasions.Sasnovich is now 4-1 this year on grass, although she’s just 18-18 for her career. With that said, Sasnovich’s game does translate well to grass. The Belarusian hits her spots on serve and tries to be aggressive with her groundstrokes, especially with her forehand, although she can lose control of her groundstrokes at points.But, where Sasnovich’s game really excels on grass is her use of variety, particularly her backhand slice. The Belarusian does a great job of keeping the ball out of her opponents’ strike zones, moving the ball around and utilizing her excellent touch.
If Cornet had converted her break points, that would have been a totally different match, and I don’t expect a similarly clutch performance from Sakkari here. Her forehand sits up on grass and the Belarusian should be able to hurry Sakkari on her forehand wing while effectively targeting her backhand.Sasnovich’s court craft should also make Sakkari uncomfortable. The Greek should struggle to dig out Sasnovich’s slices from the grass and become frustrated, pressing on her groundstrokes.
Pick: Sasnovich +1.5 sets (-135 via PointsBet)