Serena vs. Bencic
|Date & Time||Monday January 16, 2017, 9:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Bencic +450 / Serena -600 -- Over/Under:
Belinda Bencic and Serena Williams meet in the first round of the 2017 Australian Open.
Belinda Bencic hopes to make up for a disappointing 2016 in which was filled with injuries and inconsistent play. The bad news for the 19-year-old Bencic is that she was forced to retire in her match in Sydney due to a toe injury, which affected her entire game and led to tons of unforced errors. It’s going to be interesting to see if Bencic is fully recovered from the injury and if she can get back on track with just 15 games under her belt in the young 2017 season. When healthy and in good form, Bencic has proven she can compete with anybody, as she already has 11 career victories over top-10 players. Bencic has been bounced in the first round of a grand slam just twice in her young career. Bencic has also lost five of her last six matches on hard court.
Serena Williams has played two matches in the 2017 season and is fresh off a three-set loss to Madison Brengle. Serena has played 52 games so far this season and that should give her a decent advantage considering she’s had a chance to knockoff the cobwebs and get back in form after a long offseason. Injuries and fatigue appear to be catching up to the 35-year-old Serena and it seems like her peers are starting to see chinks in her armour. However, when feeling good and healthy, Serena is still the female to beat in any tournament and it’s really not even up for debate. Serena hasn’t been eliminated in the first round of a grand slam since the 2012 French Open. Serena has won eight of her last 11 matches on hard court.
These two have met twice in the past, both players winning one match. Serena won the 2014 Madrid Masters and Bencic won the 2015 Canadian Masters. This will obviously be the second time these two meet on hard court.
If it wasn’t for the toe injury, there would be value in backing Bencic. She’s beaten Serena before, admitted she’s excited for this match and there’s the fact Serena doesn’t seem like the Serena of old. With a banged up toe that can flare up at any moment, Bencic could be in trouble. I also expect Serena to be motivated and focused considering she’s lost to Bencic in the past. This isn’t your typical first round match you overlook.
I’ll take Serena here.