Dave Portnoy has found himself captivated by the skills of Belarusian tennis sensation Aryna Sabalenka and has eagerly taken on the role of her most vocal supporter.
The founder of Barstool found himself courtside at one of Sabalenka’s matches last Monday and has since been unapologetically and publicly placing bets on her success.
Sabalenka reciprocated the attention by sending Portnoy a direct message, inviting him to join her coach’s box for the U.S. Open finals showdown against Coco Gauff on Saturday, a revelation Portnoy made on Friday morning.
“Can you imagine it? Picture me, constantly appearing on national television, passionately cheering for Sabalenka against Coco Gauff in the US Open Finals. Me, going against not only the entire stadium but also my own country, supporting a Belarusian tennis player over an American? The internet would have exploded with accusations. ‘There goes Dave, being racist again! Of course, he’d root against a Black woman in the finals!'” Portnoy wrote.
“Wallo and Gillie, the hosts of Barstool’s ‘Million Dollaz Worth of Game’ podcast, might have had to embark on a nationwide apology tour for being associated with me. The critical articles would have poured in. It would have been utter chaos, and I would have relished every moment of it.”
However, this intriguing hypothetical scenario will remain confined to our imaginations because Portnoy has a prior commitment – hosting Barstool’s college football show in Tuscaloosa on Saturday before Alabama takes on Texas.
He made a plea for the U.S. Open to shift its final from Saturday afternoon to prime time, a request that is unlikely to gain traction.
The U.S. Open is once again scheduled to overlap with college football and the NFL this weekend, with the women’s final between Sabalenka and Gauff set for 4 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.
The men’s final, featuring Novak Djokovic and the winner of the Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev match, will occur on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Portnoy placed a significant wager on Sabalenka to win her semifinal match against Madison Keys and was visibly disappointed when Keys claimed the first set 6-0.
Nonetheless, Sabalenka’s incredible comeback, erasing a 5-3 deficit in the second set and winning it in a tiebreaker, as well as clinching the third set in a 10-point tiebreak, prompted Portnoy to post a video on X (formerly Twitter) at 1:00 a.m. ET.
Looking sweaty, disheveled, and out of breath, Portnoy seemed as though he had personally endured the physical and emotional rollercoaster of the match.
He declared that this would be the last time he ever bet on tennis, a vow he later broke by announcing his intention to bet on Sabalenka to defeat Gauff.