Nature Valley Classic Best Bets – June 23rd  

The final of the 2019 Mallorca Open has been determined after a really good day of tennis in Spain. The first semifinal of the day saw #7 Sofia Kenin (+129) take out #2 Anastasija Sevastova in an exciting three set match. Kenin won the first set 6-4, and went up a break in the second set, before finally putting Sevastova away pretty easily in the third set. The second semifinal of the day saw #3 Belinda Bencic (+150) knock out the defending Wimbledon champion, #1 Angie Kerber, 2-6 7-6(2) 6-4. There were a lot of break point opportunities for both women, seven for Bencic and 13 for Kerber, but it was Bencic who came away with the win.

The final of the Mallorca Open will be #3 Belinda Bencic (-189) vs #7 Sofia Kenin (+150).

Below is my pick for the final of the 2019 Nature Valley Classic.

Belinda Bencic (-189) vs Sofia Kenin (+150)

Belinda Bencic is through to her 9th WTA final after a three set comeback win over #1 Angie Kerber in the semifinals. Neither woman put on a serving clinic, but it was Bencic who was able to win the important points and is through to the final. Sunday will be Bencic’s third career grass final, first since June 2015, and will look to win her 2nd grass title. Bencic will be playing in her second final of 2019 and will look to make it 2-0 in finals after lifting the trophy in Dubai.

Sofia Kenin won a very evenly contested semifinal match, against #2 Anastasija Sevastova, to advance to her 3rd career WTA final. The American was very good against Sevastova’s serve, converting four of 11 break points, which was key in Kenin getting the win. Sunday will be Kenin’s first career grass final, but it is her 3rd final of 2019 alone. The American lost her previous final, in Acapulco, but lifted her first WTA trophy earlier this season in Hobart. Thanks to her performance this week Kenin has reached a new career high ranking of #29 and can move up to #28 with a win Sunday.

I like Belinda Bencic to win her 4th career WTA trophy.

This will be the first meeting between the two.

YTD Tennis Results: 264-174

Nature Valley Classic Results: 6-5

Nature Valley Classic Best Bets – June 22nd

Quarterfinal Friday concluded with three favorites, and two seeds, easily advancing to the semifinals and one woman advancing after an error filled match. The day started with Barbora Strycova (-250) taking out Kristyna Pliskova 6-2 6-4 and was followed by Petra Martic (-125) outlasting Jelena Ostapenko 6-7(4) 7-5 6-1. #2 Ash Barty (-455) took out Venus Williams 6-4 6-3 and #8 Julia Goerges (-175) beat Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-2.

Semifinal Saturday will feature #2 Ash Barty (-625) vs Barbora Strycova (+400) and #8 Julia Goerges (-125) vs Petra Martic (+100).

Below are my picks for the Saturday’s semifinals in Birmingham.

Ash Barty (-625) vs Barbora Strycova (+400)

Ash Barty’s win streak is now sitting at 10 with a 6-4 6-3 win over five time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams. Ash Barty has been on quite a roll since the start of the French Open as the Aussie lifted her first Grand Slam trophy, achieved a career high ranking of #2 and has dropped just two sets in her last 10 matches. Barty has spent three hours and 41 minutes on the court and faced an average opponent ranking of 48 this week. Two more wins this week will push Barty to the #1 ranking in the world as the Aussie prepares for her fourth semifinal of 2019.

Barbora Strycova took advantage of a comfortable quarterfinal opponent, in Kristyna Pliskova, coming away with a 6-2 6-4 win on Friday. Strycova did not lose her serve all match, saving five break points, and broke Pliskova three times during her quarterfinal win. Strycova has been on the court for five hours and 18 minutes while facing an average opponent ranking of 87 this week. Strycova will play in her third semifinal of 2019 Saturday.

I like Ash Barty to keep her winning streak alive.

Ash Barty leads the overall H2H 2-1 and leads on grass 1-0. The two met here in 2017 when Ash Barty came away with a 6-3 3-6 6-1 win in the Round of 16.

Julia Goerges (-125) vs Petra Martic (+100)

Julia Goerges is through to the semifinals in Birmingham after a 6-3 6-2 win over Yulia Putintseva on Friday. Goerges lost just 15 points on her serve, did not lose a service game and broke Putintseva three times during her quarterfinal win. Goerges has had an efficient week spending four hours and 17 minutes on court and faced an opponent average ranking of 51. Goerges can get back into the top 15 by lifting the title as she prepares for her second semifinal of 2019.

Petra Martic continues her good form with a wild three set win over Jelena Ostapenko on Friday. The first two sets were two of the craziest sets you’ll see as Ostapenko went up 4-1, with a double break, but needed a tiebreaker to win the first set and then was up 4-1 and had five match points in the second set before blowing that and eventually losing in three sets. Martic has now spent five hours and 29 minutes on court and has faced an average opponent ranking of 50 this week. With her results this week Martic has achieved a new career ranking of 24 and can make her top 20 debut by lifting the trophy. Saturday will be Martic’s third semifinal of this season and third in her last five tournaments.

I like Petra Martic to get to the final.

Julia Goerges leads the H2H 1-0, but this will be the first meeting on grass. This will also be the first meeting between the two since 2018 when Goerges came away with the quarterfinal win in Portoroz.

YTD Tennis Results: 260-170

Nature Valley Classic Results: 5-4

Nature Valley Classic Best Bets – June 20th

The final four first round matches, and the first four second round, took place in Birmingham on Wednesday with two big upsets taking place that saw two seeds get sent packing. Kristyna Pliskova (+250) knocked her twin sister, and the #3 seed, Karolina Pliskova in three tough sets and Jelena Ostapenko (+250) easily took out #7 Jo Konta in straight sets as both Ostapenko and Pliskova advanced to the quarters. Barbora Strycova (+125) and Petra Martic (-303) were the other two women to advance to the quarters on Wednesday. Jennifer Brady (-152), #2 Ash Barty (-303), #6 Qiang Wang (-152) and Venus Williams (-250) were the final first round winners.

The final four second round matches taking place tomorrow are #2 Ash Barty (-833) vs Jennifer Brady (+500), #1 Naomi Osaka (-400) vs Yulia Putintseva (+275), #8 Julia Goerges (-556) vs Evgeniya Rodina and Venus Williams (-189) vs #6 Qiang Wang (+137).

Below are my two best bets for Thursday in Birmingham.

Venus Williams (-189) vs Qiang Wang (+137)

Venus Williams, playing in her first pre-Wimbledon grass tournament since 2011, opened up her Nature Valley Classic campaign with a 6-3 6-4 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Wednesday. Williams is not playing many tournaments these days, but the American still holds a 13-6 record on the season.

Qiang Wang recorded just her second grass win since 2015 with a 6-3 6-2 win over American Lauren Davis. Wang saved four of five break points and was able to covert four of her break opportunities en route to her one hour and 29 minute win. Wang, currently ranked #15 in the world, has a great chance of improving her ranking with a nice grass season with no points to defend.

Venus Williams gets to the quarterfinals.

Venus Williams leads the overall H2H 2-1 and leads the H2H on grass 1-0. The two met at Wimbledon, in 2017, with Venus coming away with a 4-6 6-4 6-1 win.

Naomi Osaka (-400) vs Yulia Putintseva (+275)

Naomi Osaka started her grass season with a 6-1 4-6 6-3 win over the tough Maria Sakkari. Osaka did not serve very well, but was able to save nine of 11 break points, and was able to break Sakkari five times, en route to her first round win. Osaka has second round points to defend this week.

Yulia Putintseva opened her grass season with a 6-1 6-4 win over local girl Harriet Dart on Tuesday. The score line looked pretty dominant, but she was really forced to work for things as she did lose her serve once and lost a good amount of points on her serve.

I like Naomi Osaka to even up the H2H record.

Yulia Putintseva leads the H2H 1-0, but this will be the first meeting on grass. The lone meeting took place on the hardcourts in Hobart, in 2018, when Putintseva came away with a 6-3 6-3 win.

YTD Tennis Results: 252-161

Nature Valley Classic Results: 3-2

Nature Valley Classic Best Bets – June 19th

The weather in England is rearing its ugly head for the second week in a row as only six of the 10 scheduled matches, on Tuesday, were able to get completed. There were two slight upsets on the day as Jelena Ostapenko (+110) completely dominated Iga Swiatek in a 6-0 6-2 win and #8 Julia Georges (+120) took out Dayana Yastremska in three sets. Petra Martic (-175), Kristyna Pliskova (-357) and Yulia Putintseva (-164) all took care of business in straight sets. Meanwhile, the world #1, Naomi Osaka (-227), needed three sets to take care of Maria Sakkari.

The final four rain delayed first round matches, plus the first four second round matches are on the docket for Wednesday with #2 Ash Barty, #3 Karolina Pliskova, #7 Jo Konta, Donna Vekic, Venus Williams and Petra Martic all in action.

Below are my two best bets for Wednesday in Birmingham.

Venus Williams (-250) vs Aliaksandra Sasnovich (+175)

Venus Williams played just three times during the clay swing and compiled a 1-2 record including a first round loss in the French Open. The five time Wimbledon champion enters Birmingham on a wild card and will play her first pre-Wimbledon grass tournament since 2011. The 39-year-old has a tremendous 78-15 career grass record.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich ended her 2-3 clay season with a first round loss at Roland-Garros a few weeks back. Sasnovich has not played much grass tennis during her career and sits at a 10-10 record on the surface. During this week last season Sasnovich fell in the first round of Mallorca.

Venus Williams gets her grass season started with a win.

This will be the first meeting between the two.

Jo Konta (-333) vs Jelena Ostapenko (+240)

Jo Konta started her grass season with a nice 6-4 6-2 win over world #20 Anett Kontaveit on Monday. Konta saved two of three break points and broke the Estonian four times on her way to a one hour and 13 minute win. The Brit seems to have recovered her 2016-2017 form, but faces a tough second round opponent on Wednesday.

Jelena Ostapenko got her grass season off to a fantastic start as the Latvian took out qualifier Iga Swiatek, 6-0 6-2, in just 52 minutes. Ostapenko served up five double faults, and lost her serve just one time, which is a very good match for her at this point. Ostapenko won 68% of her points and needs more wins as she has a lot of points to defend the next few weeks.

I like Jelena Ostapenko to pull off the nice upset.

Jo Konta leads the overall H2H 2-1 and leads on grass 1-0. The lone grass meeting took place at 2017 Eastbourne when Konta came away with a 7-5 3-6 6-4 win.

YTD Tennis Results: 246-160

Nature Valley Classic Results: 1-2

Nature Valley Classic Best Bets – June 18th

Six main draw matches got the women underway in Birmingham, on Monday, with two upsets, including one big upset, and four favorites taking care of business. Evgeniya Rodina (+450) upset Kristina Mladenovic in three sets and Margarita Gasparyan (+200) took out #4 Elina Svitolina in three sets. Su-Wei Hsieh (-120) knocked out #5 Aryna Sabalenka, Barbora Strycova (-227) took care of Heather Watson in three sets, #7 Jo Konta (-278) beat Anett Kontaveit in straight sets and #3 Karolina Pliskova (-625) took out Mihaela Buzarnescu in two easy sets.

The final 10 main draw matches are on the schedule Tuesday with #1 Naomi Osaka, #2 Ash Barty, #6 Qiang Wang, #8 Julia Goerges, Jelena Ostapenko, Venus Williams, Maria Sakkari and Donna Vekic all in action.

Below are my two best bets for Tuesday in Birmingham.

Ash Barty (-250) vs Donna Vekic (+175)

Ash Barty, fresh off her first Grand Slam title at the French Open, and the new world #2, starts her grass season with a really tough first round opponent. Barty has turned into an all-surface player as the Aussie won the Miami title on the hardcourts, the French Open on the clay and now enters her preferred surface on the grass. Barty went 12-3 on the grass last season and has a career 34-14 record on the surface. Barty has one career WTA title on the grass, last season in Nottingham, but fell in the second round here last season.

Donna Vekic started her grass season last week and, thanks to the weather in Nottingham, played just two matches on the grass even though she made it to the final. Vekic’s first three matches of the week were played on the indoor hardcourts, but Vekic moved to the grass for her final two and came away with a 1-1 record. Vekic went 7-4 on grass last season and has a 27-19 career record on the surface. Vekic won the Nottingham title in 2017, on the grass, but fell in the first round here last season.

I like the French Open champion, Ash Barty, to start her grass season with a win.

This will be the first meeting between the two.

Yulia Putintseva (-189) vs Harriet Dart (+137)

Yulia Putintseva begins her grass season after a successful clay court swing that saw the Kazakh post an 8-4 record and lift her maiden WTA title in Nurnberg. Putintseva was set to start her grass season last week, but decided to take one more week off and start her grass swing in Birmingham. Putintseva went 2-2 on grass in 2018 and has a career 6-13 record on the surface. She did not compete during this week of the schedule last season.

Harriet Dart was supposed to kick her grass season off last week in Nottingham, but due to weather conditions the 22-year-old Brit was forced to play two indoor hardcourt matches. Dart came away with a three set win over Vera Lapko, in the first round, before falling in three sets to Ajla Tomljanovic. Dart went 8-5 on grass last season, but sits at just 14-20 in her career. Dart made a run to the quarterfinals of the Ilkley ITF event during this week last season.

I like Harriet Dart to get the win Monday.

This will be the first meeting between the two.

YTD Tennis Results: 243-158

Nature Valley Classic Results: 1-1

The first WTA Premier grass tournament kicks off Monday, in Birmingham, as 32 women look to get some momentum as Wimbledon is now just two weeks away. Last season Petra Kvitova lifted the Nature Valley Classic trophy after she made her way through Jo Konta, Daria Gavrilova, Julia Goerges, Mihaela Buzarnescu and Magdalena Rybarikova.

Monday features six main draw matches as #3 Karolina Pliskova, #4 Elina Svitolina, #5 Aryna Sabalenka and #7 Jo Konta all look to get their week started off with wins.

Below are my two best bets for the first day of action in Birmingham.

Aryna Sabalenka (-139) vs Su-Wei Hsieh (+100)

Aryna Sabalenka continued her recent poor form with a bad three set loss to world #214, Destanee Aiava, in the first round of the Libema Open last week. Sabalenka served up 11 double faults in her three set loss to the wildcard entrant and desperately needs to find her form from late last season/early this season. The Belarusian fell in the first round of the Mallorca Open during this week last season.

Su-Wei Hsieh enters her first grass court tournament of the season after a poor 4-5 clay season that ended with a second round loss in the French Open. Hsieh, who is a solid hardcourt player, went 5-3 last season on grass. For her career Hsieh has a 31-24 record on the grass. This week last season Hsieh fell in the first round of the Mallorca Open.

Aryna Sabalenka gets the win Monday.

This will be the first meeting between the two.

Jo Konta (-200) vs Anett Kontaveit (+150)

Jo Konta enters her first grass court tournamnet of the season after a fantastic 15-4 clay season that ended in the semifinals of the French Open. With her confidence at a high, Konta now enters her favorite surface, the grass. Last season the Brit went 6-4 on the surface and for her career Konta has gone 41-26. Konta fell in the first round here last season.

Anett Kontaveit wrapped up a disappointing 4-4 clay season with a first round loss in the French Open a few weeks back. Kontaveit has played five season seasons worth of grass tournaments and has either had a great grass swing or a terrible one, no in between. Last season the Estonian went 2-3 on the surface, but for her career she is 30-14 on grass. Kontaveit won her only WTA tournament on grass, 2017 Hertogenbosch, and also won the Eastbourne ITF grass event in 2015. Kontaveit lost in the first round of Mallorca during this week last season.

I like Jo Konta to get the win Monday.

Jo Konta leads the H2H 1-0, but this will be the first meeting on grass. The lone meeting took place back in 2016, on the Acapulco hardcourts, when Konta came away with a three set victory.

YTD Tennis Results: 238-155

Nature Valley Classic Results:

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