- The J&T Banka Ostrava Open is a new, one-year event this year and offers $528,500 in prize money
- Top seed Elina Svitolina is No. 5 in the world; No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova is No. 6
- The lack of playing opportunities means the Ostrava Open field is deep. Who’s a good bet to go all the way? Our tips are below
With the vast majority of WTA Tour events canceled because of the pandemic – including the entire Asian swing – playing opportunities are precious.
After this week’s Ostrava Open, only a smaller event in Linz, Austria remains on the WTA Tour docket.
So the depth of the 32-player field is high, even after withdrawals by nine top-20 players originally entered.
That means the tournament is … wide open.
WTA Ostrava Open Singles Odds
| Victoria Azarenka (BLR)||+550|
| Karolina Pliskova (CZE)||+650|
| Elina Svitolina (UKR)||+650|
| Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)||+850|
| Elena Rybakina (KAZ)||+1100|
|Jennifer Brady (USA)||+1200|
| Anett Kontaveit (EST)||+1400|
| Elise Mertens (BEL)||+1400|
|Maria Sakkari (GRE)||+1800|
|[Q] Cori Gauff (USA)||+2000|
|Karolina Muchova (CZE)||+2200|
|Dayana Yastremska (UKR)||+2800|
|[WC] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)||+3300|
|Amanda Anisimova (USA)||+4000|
All odds as of Oct. 18 at Bet365
As a brand-new event, Ostrava doesn’t offer any of the players the benefit of experience with the conditions, or past success.
That’s just another reason why it’s wide, wide open.
No Clear Favorite, But Azarenka Tops
The best odds to win it go to Victoria Azarenka. She is only the No. 4 seed but has had a much better summer than the three seeded ahead of her.
She’s back on her favorite surface after a surprising and rather disappointing second-round exit on clay at the French Open.
And even if it’s deep in the archives, Azarenka has success indoors in Europe in her muscle memory. She boasts titles in both Linz and Luxembourg.
Tough Road for Top Seed Svitolina
Svitolina’s run in Paris was thwarted, comprehensively, by Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska.
But while her grinding style leads to expectations on clay, 10 of her 15 career WTA titles have come on hard courts.
Still, the Paris resident could face a challenge as soon as the second round against Greece’s Maria Sakkari.
Beyond that, dangerous wild card Jelena Ostapenko looms.
Svitolina is in Azarenka’s half of the draw. All in all, it’s a tough ask.
No. 2 Pliskova on Home Soil
Pliskova won just one match inside the US Open hard-court bubble.
She’s on home soil. But it might not help. She has rarely outkicked her coverage at home.
The Czech has a first-round bye. But there are hard hitters in her section: Veronika Kudermetova or Donna Vekic first, and then Dayana Yastremska, Elena Rybakina or possibly US Open semifinalist Jennifer Brady.
It’s a deep, tough section. Nothing in Pliskova’s recent form indicates she can get through it.
Can Coco Finish 2020 in Style?
The teenager had her breakout result indoors in Europe a year ago, when she was still just 15.
Gauff entered the Linz main draw as a lucky loser and rode that luck all the way to the title.
But her recent form isn’t great. She has yet to win back-to-back main draw matches since her first tournament back in Kentucky.
If her 2019 Linz run is to get a sequel, she needs to beat Czech wild card Katerina Siniakova in the first round, and No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the second round.
Potential Early Upsets
The parity in the Ostrava is such that any number of first-round encounters are ripe with upset possibilities.
A good bet is to take Kudermetova (+100) over Vekic (-138).
Vekic has been dismal since the restart and also has made a coaching change.
US Open semifinalist Brady (-150) is the favorite over Yastremska (+110). But that’s a pick ’em match, the first meeting between two players separated by only three spots in the rankings.
Who Will Win?
Azarenka (+550) has the (relatively) easiest draw. And while she hasn’t played this late into the season in many years, she’s fresh.
At +850, Sabalenka is the best bet among those with slightly longer odds.
She’s beaten Svitolina and Azarenka. She’s 2-0 against Pliskova. And she’s 2-0 against Anett Kontaveit. If she faces and beats Gauff in the second round, she could fly a long way.
Even if this isn’t a normal year, these types of late-season tournaments tend to spit out unusual winners – witness Gauff’s run a year ago.
So a flyer on longshot Ostapenko (+3300), last year’s champion indoors in Linz, is worth considering.
But for our money, the best bet is still the tournament favorite in Azarenka.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.