At one point in each of her four victories at this week’s Miami Open, Bianca Andreescu was, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, listed as an underdog, and yet she willed her way to victory each time. But should we have expected anything different? In completed matches played in the U.S. since 2019, the Canadian is 21-0. Tennis is a better sport when Andreescu is healthy.
But tennis is also better with a fit and fired up Ashleigh Barty, who has summoned some spectacular tennis this week. Barty survived an in-the-zone Aryna Sabalenka on Tuesday and then dismantled Elina Svitolina, 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday.
This championship clash is shaping up to be a special one.
It’s safe to wonder how Andreescu’s body will feel after her 1:30 AM, come-from-behind 7-6 (7), 3-6, 7-6 (4) victory over Maria Sakkari. Down 2-4 in the final set, Andreescu again found her best tennis with her back against the wall.
She will likely be put in a similar situation on Saturday. Barty will be the fresher player, and has arguably brought a higher level to the court since saving match point in her opening round against Kristina Kucova. The two Grand Slam champions have never played before, so it’s difficult to think of a match-up that will feature this much skill and variety.
To stave off the upset, Barty will need to continue her dominance on serve. The Aussie has racked up 39 aces so far, several on her second serve.
In addition to aces, her first-strike forehand has been extremely accurate all week.
Look for Andreescu to use her incredible drop shot to disrupt Barty’s rhythm.
This match is a toss-up, but if the Canadian hits her backhand return like this, she will certainly give herself chances to win.
From a betting perspective, taking Andreescu as a +155 underdog is probably the right play, but sometimes you have to go with your gut. In the end, look for the defending champion to prevail in stunning fashion.
The Pick: Ashleigh Barty