Osaka Overtakes Serena as Favorite in US Open Odds; Gauff in Top Ten of Pared-Down Field

Naomi Osaka practicing

Naomi Osaka is slightly favored over Serena Williams when the 2020 US Open odds from major sportsbooks are averaged out. Photo by Peter Menzel (wikimedia commons).
  • With the 2020 US Open Tennis ready to go Monday (August 31), Serena Williams once again dominates the conversation
  • With no fan support for the near-39 year-old, Naomi Osaka now moves into role as favorite
  • But the unprecedented, clinical environment may open the door for an unlikely 2020 women’s champion

The US Open Tennis Championship will take on a decidedly different look and feel this year when a compromised field of 128 women line up for the annual Grand Slam, set for Monday, August 31 – Sunday, September 13 at New York City’s famed Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.  The marquee value is there with Serena Williams continuing her pursuit of that elusive, Margaret Court-equalling 24th major title.  Naomi Osaka is also on hand to possible set up a tasty rematch of the 2018 final, the biggest win of her career.

That twosome is exactly where the oddsmakers have placed their confidence. On average, the women’s US Open odds see Osaka as the favorite at +563, narrowly ahead of Serena at +575. The oddsmakers at FanDuel have them as +600 co-favorites.

2020 Women’s US Open Odds

Player Odds at FANDUEL
Naomi Osaka +600
Serena Williams +600
Karolina Pliskova +1000
Sophia Kenin +1100
Petra Kvitova +1400
Aryna Sabalenka +1600
Madison Keys +1600
Garbine Muguruza +1800
Coco Gauff +2100
Angelique Kerber +2900
Amanda Anisimova +3000
Marketa Vondrousova +3500
Anett Kontaveit +3600
Dayana Yastremska +3600

Odds as of Aug. 25th.

It was a different story when the futures came out in February.  At that point, with a full field expected and the emotional New York City fans assumed to be out in full force, Serena was the clear favorite at +517 with Osaka much longer at +1133. At that point, Osaka was behind Bianca Andreescu, Ash Barty, and Simona Halep – a trio that will not be competing in 2020.

2021 Australian Open Odds Tracker

Can Serena Win Without Fan Support?

Those aging legs, motherhood, and the tug of retirement have Williams in a vulnerable state going in, but her skills and mental toughness are so undeniable that it is just impossible to predict anything less than the semis or a berth in the championship match.

The problem is the atmosphere will be dramatically different. Adding in Serena’s stunning three-set loss to Maria Sakkari in Cincinnati this week and Osaka’s excellent form in the same tournament, oddsmakers were swayed. The young Haitian/Japanese assassin is soft-spoken and shy but also mentally tough.  So she should be just fine in the antiseptic atmosphere with no need to feed off the crowd to ascend to her level best.

With talented top names (Andreescu, Barty, Halep, Elina Svitolina, and Belinda Bencic) on the sidelines for various reasons, the field thins out quickly.  Third-favorite Karolina Pliskova sits at +1000 and interesting players abound down the line, including Angelique Kerber, two-time conqueror of Serena Williams, sitting as the tenth-choice at +2900.  The 16-year-old American Coco Gauff is available at +2550 and has adapted to no-fans-in-the-stands by telling herself, “You have to be your own cheerleader.”

This Could Be Serena’s Last Chance for a Slam

COVID-19 has dumped us all into this weird and crazy world of warped circumstances and difficult-to-read competitive environments.  On the one hand, it feels like Serena will never be in top physical condition again, so how can you count on her to go the full seven matches?  Simultaneously, if she is going to equal the great Margaret Court and allow everyone to exhale on her behalf, it had better be at this Grand Slam, where she’s so comfortable in a year when several of the next generation stars are watching from afar.

But the pressure will still be there for Serena, and she has roller-coastered through the restart, going 3-2, losing this week to the #13 seed.  For Osaka, expectations are still minimal because of her youth and happy-go-lucky demeanor. Matches that may be a bit like practice could suit her well, even on the big stage.

One constant in the coronavirus world has been lesser players springing upsets under the unusual pandemic-related circumstances.  That could be a reason to look beyond the two favorites.  Kerber is the most interesting because of the combination of long odds and the experience of three Grand Slam titles.  If you want an unconventional player to fit the unconventional situation, Aryna Sabalenka has the talent to pull it off at +1500.

Naomi Osaka is on form and still too good to pass up at +600. Serena will use the urgency of the moment of summon up enough emotion and adrenalin to establish momentum.  But Osaka will be in cruise control against the diminished field and her youth, athleticism, and carefree demeanor will carry the day.

Pick: Osaka (+600)

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