Preparations for the U.S Open are in full swing as the tour heads to Montréal, the Rogers Cup is the biggest warn up tournament heading into Flushing Meadows. All the big guns will be in action this week in Canada. There are however two notable absentees, world number 2 Li Na and world number 3 Simona Halep. The star attraction at this years Rogers Cup will be the 5th seed Eugenie Boucahrd. This will be the Canadian’s first Rogers Cup competing as a legitimate contender and top 10 player. Defending champion Serena Williams is certainly the one to beat this week, the world number 1 is fit and fiery, coming off her third title in Stanford.
First Quarter – (1) Serena Williams vs (5) Eugenie Bouchard
The first quarter features some mouthwatering potential matches. At the top of the draw is the world number 1, Serena Williams. In her first tournament back after her bizarre exit from Wimbledon, the American was a little rusty but she was as competitive as ever on route to claiming her third title in Stanford. Serena is in great shape at the moment and will be extremely difficult to defeat this week. Serena receives a bye through to the second round where she will face either Sam Stosur or Monica Puig. Sam Stosur is currently going through a rough patch (even by her standards). The Australian number 1 is coming off a disastrous loss to 16-year-old Naomi Osaka in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic.
15th Seed, Lucie Safarova faces last year’s finalist Sorana Cirstea in an important first round match. Given the amount of points Sorana Cirstea has to defend this week she will have an extraordinary amount of pressure on her in Montréal. In the live rankings Sorana has dropped 44 places, all the way down to number 80 in the world. Safarova leads the head-to-head 3-1 and will go into the match as the favourite on the back of her deep run at Wimbledon. However Lucie did lose her first round match in Washington to Kristina Mladenovic and it is certainly a winnable match for Sorana who showed some promising signs in Washington. I don’t see anyone in this section troubling the world number 1 who should have no problems advancing to the quarter-finals.
Local favourite, Eugenie Bouchard also features in the top quarter. A potential blockbuster quarter-final looms between the Canadian rising star and world number 1 Serena Williams. After receiving a bye through the first round, Eugenie Bouchard will face either Tomljanovic or Shelby Rogers. The other seed in Genie’s section is 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki, who will come up against Daniela Hantuchova in the opening round. The Dane has an impressive record against Daniela; she has won 6 of their 7 previous matches. Wozniacki will come into this event with a considerable amount of confidence having claimed her first title of the season in Istanbul a couple of weeks a go. Caroline Wozniacki and Eugenie Bouchard are on course for a third round meeting. This would be something to really look forward to, the two have never met and it would be interesting to see how a match between the two would pan out.
First round Predictions: Monica Puig to defeat Samantha Stosur in three sets, Alison Riske to defeat Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets, (15) Lucie Safarova to defeat Sorana Cirstea in three sets, (11) Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets, Kiki Bertens to defeat Klara Koukalova in three sets, Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Shelby Rogers in straight sets
Quarter-final 1 Prediction: (1) Serena Williams vs (11) Eugenie Bouchard
Second Quarter – (4) Maria Sharapova vs (6) Angelique Kerber
At the top of the second quarter is a resurgent Maria Sharapova. The Roland Garros Champion’s first match will likely be against Garbine Muguruza. Maria was forced to work extremely hard for her victory over the Spaniard in their recent battle in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros, she will need to be ready for a tough opening match if they are to meet in Montreal. 14th Seed Carla Suarez Navarro is Maria’s projected third round opponent. First, Carla will need to get past a tricky opening round match with Bojana Jovanovski. Washington D.C finalist Kurumi Nara also lurks in this section of the draw. For Maria, her biggest threat will be Garbine; if she can get past that hurdle she should have little trouble reaching the quarter-finals in Montreal.
Sixth seed Angelique Kerber arrives in Montreal fresh off a solid week in Stanford, where she reached her fourth final of the season. Unfortunately Angie came up short for the fourth time this year. Despite leading 5-1 and having two set points Angie was unable to close out the opening set and was made to pay by Serena who got better as the match went on. After her first round bye, Angie will face either Karin Knapp or Caroline Garcia in the second round before a potential third round match against Venus Williams. Venus faces a tough opening round match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The head to head between the two stands at 2-2, Anastasia seems to be back in some decent form so it should be an extremely entertaining opening round match. 12th seed Flavia Pennetta will face qualifier Yulia Putintseva in the opening round. Putintseva will be no push over for the Italian. Pennetta hasn’t played a match since Wimbledon, whilst Putintseva has already played a couple of tournaments on hard courts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset here.
A quarter-final match between Angelique Kerber and Maria Sharapova is on the cards.
First Round Predictions: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Stéphanie Dubois in straight sets, Kurumi Nara to defeat Yanina Wickmayer in three sets, (14) Carla Suarez Navarro to defeat Bojana Jovanovski in three sets, Yulia Putintseva to defeat (12) Flavia Pennetta in three sets, Venus Williams to defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, Caroline Garcia to defeat Karin Knapp in three sets,
Quarter-final 2 Prediction: (4) Maria Sharapova vs (6) Angelique Kerber
Third Quarter – (8) Victoria Azarenka vs (3) Agnieszka Radwanska
Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska could be on track for a rematch of their famous quarter-final match at this years Australian Open. However both ladies have struggled in recent times. Victoria Azarenka is yet to find her a-game after returning from injury a couple of months a go and as a result of that she recently fell outside the top 10 for the first time in over two years. The Belarusian will face either Lauren Davis or Alize Cornet in her opening match before a potential third round match against 10th seeded Dominika Cibulkova. A tricky draw for Vika, but I think she is finally ready for her first deep run since returning from injury.
Third seed, Agnieszka Radwanska arrives in Montreal in the midst of one of her worst form slumps in recent years. The Pole suffered a shock loss in her opening match at the Bank of the West Classic, going down to Varvara Lepchenko in three sets. It was one of Aga’s worst performances in recent years, she hit a whopping 42 unforced errors and was a shadow of her usual self. Aga reached the semi-finals here last year and will need another deep run if she is to avoid dropping out of the top 5 for the first time in a while. Aga has been dealt a relatively favorable draw; she will face either Barbora Zahlavova Strycova or Roberta Vinci in the opening round before a projected third round match against Sara Errani. 13th seed Sara Errani will have her work cut out setting up a third round match against the Pole. Errani faces Sabine Lisicki in the opening round and then could face another big hitter in the form of Madison Keys in the second round. I don’t see Errani coming through this section. Unfortunately, It is also hard to see Aga having a good week in Montreal.
First Round Match Predictions: Alize Cornet to defeat Lauren Davis in three sets, Heather Watson to defeat Tereza Smitkova in straight sets, (10) Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Francoise Abanda in straight sets, Sabine Lisicki to defeat (13) Sara Errani in straight sets, Madison Keys to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets, Roberta Vinci to defeat Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in three sets
Quarter-Final 3 Prediction: (8) Victoria Azarenka vs Madison Keys
Fourth Quarter – (7) Jelana Jankovic vs (2) Petra Kvitova
Jelana Jankovic and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will be in action for the first time since contrasting performances at SW19. Jelana Jankovic comes into this event having lost three matches in a row but she will be glad to be back on the hard courts in North America. After a bye through the opening round, Jelana will likely face the unseeded Sloane Stephens who also arrives in Montréal having lost three straight matches. Jelana defeated Sloane in three tight sets last year in Cincinnati in what was their first and only encounter. Also in this section of the draw is 9th seed Ana Ivanovic who will likely be the third round opponent of the winner of the match between Sloane and Jelana. Ana Ivanovic pushed Serena all the way in Stanford last week, but a hip injury ultimately hindered her chances. If Ana is fit and ready she should progress through this section into the quarter-finals.
Petra Kvitova returns to action for the first time since her triumph at Wimbledon. The second seed will be looking to back up her second Grand Slam title with a solid North American hard court season. After her first round bye, Petra will face either Casey Dellacqua or Kirsten Flipkens. Dellacqua has defeated Flipkens in both of their previous meetings, both taking place on hard courts in 2014. This section is full of lefties; the unseeded Ekaterina Makarova could be a real test for Petra in the third round. Makarova will likely face the 16th seeded Andrea Petkovic in the second round. Andrea is fresh off a solid week in Stanford where she reached the semi-finals before eventually succumbing to Serena Williams in straight sets. Andrea faces a tough opening round opponent, the Italian Camila Giorgi. Giorgi has defeated Andrea in both of their two previous meeting, both on hard courts in 2014. This bottom section is probably the toughest little section of the draw to predict.
First Round Match Predictions: Sloane Stephens to defeat Aleksandra Wozniak in straight sets, Coco Vandeweghe to defeat Shuai Zhang in three sets, Ana Ivanovic to defeat Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets, Camila Giorgi to defeat (16) Andrea Petkovic in three sets, Ekaterina Makarova to defeat Romina Oprandi in straight sets, Casey Dellacqua to defeat Kirsten Flipkens in straight sets
Quarter-final 4 prediction: (9) Ana Ivanovic vs Camila Giorgi
WTAAddict Final Prediction: (1) Serena Williams def. (8) Victoria Azarenka
I am very confident in picking Serena Williams to go all the way in Montréal. The world number 1 traditionally plays her best tennis on hard courts in North America and in recent seasons has rarely been defeated. I would not be surprised to see Serena go unbeaten during the whole U.S Open series. To me she has regrouped and will come out and play better than ever before. Stanford was the perfect warm up for the American, a fourth title of the season. I think Vika is ready for her first deep run since returning from injury. Petra may well reach the final; she will either lose early or go all the way.
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