While the men’s side of the 2021 Australian Open semifinals includes three of the top five seeds, the match of greatest interest may actually be on the women’s side. Naomi Osaka vs. Serena Williams for a spot in the final is all tennis fans could ask for.
Serena seems to be bettors’ choice for the match, while larger bets are going on Osaka. The odds on the men’s semifinal matches are going according to the chalk, despite one improbable run.
Public betting on Osaka vs. Williams is intriguing
More bettors like Williams in this match, but those who like Osaka are more confident. BetMGM says that through Tuesday morning, 80% of tickets on this match backed Williams (+130).
However, 51% of the handle for the match through the same period was on Osaka (-165). DraftKings bettors were even heavier on Williams at the same point.
At that book, 66% of handle and 65% of bets took Williams at +130 to win straight up. That included one $3,000 wager. PointsBet reports that its bets placed and money wagered slightly both slightly favor Osaka.
Williams has experienced the most movement on the line for winning the Australian Open this year. At the aforementioned books, she started out at +1000. Now, her odds are down to +275.
Do the numbers actually support Osaka as the favorite against Williams at -160? It depends on how much you value certain aspects of recent form.
Handicapping Osaka vs. Williams for Thursday
These two champions have faced each other in singles play three times, but not since 2019 in Toronto. This is the second time they’ve faced off in a WTA Grand Slam, with the 2018 US Open final being the other instance.
Osaka won the first two meetings with Williams, both in straight sets. Williams scored a straight-victory in Toronto in 2019. No set between these two has ever been more lopsided than 6-2.
Osaka is seeking her second win in an Australian Open, having won this event in 2019. If Williams can win this one, it would be her eighth title in the Australian.
A 2-1 advantage in head-to-head matches isn’t significant, especially given that it’s been over a year since that last match took place. However, the track record between these two suggests bettors could know early on which player has the upper hand on Thursday.
Williams is by far the more experienced player here. Osaka has had a slightly less demanding road to the semis, though. She did have to play a third set against Garbiñe Muguruza in the fourth round, but other than that, her path to facing Williams has been full of a lot of 6-2 and 6-1 scores.
Williams had a more difficult path, however. It took her three sets to finish off Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round, then Anastasia Potapova took her to the brink in the first set of the third round.
Of course, this isn’t the only match worth wagering on as the tournament moves toward the final. The other half of the women’s bracket and the men’s draws await your consideration as well.
Odds on the other three Australian Open semifinal matches
Novak Djokovic, who has is looking for his third consecutive Australian Open title and ninth in his career, is the heaviest favorite in the semifinals. He faces unseeded Aslan Karatsev, who is a +800 underdog.
The other men’s semifinal pits the fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev against fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas. Medvedev is a -230 favorite while Tsitsipas sits at +185.
Medvedev has faced Tsitsipas six times, winning five of those matches. Tsitsipas seems to have the momentum in the series, as he not only won the prior meeting in straight sets but lost by 7-6(5) and 7-5 scores in the match before that.
Djokovic and Karatsev have never met before. Karatsev has only three wins in his young career. If he is able to advance, it would be a historic upset.
For the opportunity to face either Osaka or Williams, Jennifer Brady and Karolina Muchova don’t have much more history between them. The pair have met only once before in singles play, that being in Prague in 2019. Muchova won in three sets, but Brady was a point away herself on two occasions.
Brady is the favorite at -182 while Muchova rests at +148. Whichever woman emerges will likely be an instant underdog in the final, and it’s probable that the final won’t see as much action as Osaka v. Williams at sportsbooks.
With Naomi and Serena starting the action off at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday, there is still time to get your bets down. These primetime performers rarely fail to deliver an exciting match.