The WTA Western & Southern Open begins in Cincinnati this week and Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, who have been dominating the women’s game all season, are at the head of the betting for the event in Ohio.
Iga Swiatek to win @ 9/4
It was Caroline Garcia who sprung a surprise to win the WTA Western & Southern Open last year and although it again looks like a competitive women’s field in Cincinnati, it is easy to make a case for outright favourite Iga Swiatek this time around.
The 22-year-old showed her prowess on the hard courts when she won the US Open last year, defeating Ons Jabeur in straight sets in the final, and she will want to maintain a good run of form before her title defence in New York.
Since exiting Wimbledon at the quarter-final stage, Swiatek has been quick to turn her attention to the hard courts again, winning the Poland Open in her home country and reaching the semi-finals of the Canadian Open, in which she lost to Jessica Pegula in three sets.
They are two solid performances to have behind her as she heads to Ohio and she once again looks the player to beat.
Her closest competitor Sabalenka has made a sluggish start to the hard-court season, crashing out of the WTA Montreal in the last 16 against Liudmila Samsonova, while Elena Rybakina may be too fatigued from her mammoth campaign in Canada to be competitive in Cincinnati as well.
Jessica Pegula to win @ 11/1
Those looking for a more adventurous bet in the WTA Western & Southern Open should look no further than Jessica Pegula.
It has been an important couple of months for American ace Pegula, who reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon – previously her worst Grand Slam – before she began her hard-court campaign on the front foot in Washington.
Pegula could not quite go the distance as top seed but made the semi-finals at the Citi Open and she followed that by making the final of the WTA Montreal on Sunday, taking down Coco Gauff and Swiatek en route.
She is hitting a rich vein of form just at the right time with the US Open over the horizon and the opportunity to impress in front of a home crowd beckoning.
Seeded third and handed a bye to the round of 32, Pegula looks a great double-figure selection in Ohio.
As far as the draw is concerned, Pegula can also take confidence from the fact she is in the opposite half to Swiatek with Maria Sakkari the strongest competitor in her quarter and either Bernarda Pera or a qualifier set to face her in the second round.
Gauff, who lost to Pegula in the quarter-finals in Montreal, is another promising American hoping to make a statement in Cincinnati.