Coupe Rogers, Semi-Final Day Match Previews

SF #1: (5) 🇷🇴 Simona Halep vs (2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber

A blockbuster semi-final clash in Montreal sees Simona Halep come up against Angelique Kerber.

Halep is having a great week in Montreal, not only is she into the semi-finals in singles but she is also in the semi-finals in the doubles draw alongside Monica Niculescu. Halep has come through a tough draw to reach the final four, claiming straight set wins over Daria Gavrilova and Karolina Pliskova before coming from a set down to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova.

 

Angelique Kerber struggled in her opening couple of matches in Montreal but managed to fight past Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Elina Svitolina in three sets. The German secured her spot in Saturday’s semi-finals with a convincing straight set win over Daria Kasatkina.

Simona Halep holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Kerber, however it was the German who won their most recent match: a 7-5 7-6 win at Wimbledon earlier this year.

Simona Halep has a perfect 3-0 record over Kerber on a hard court and I suspect she will maintain that perfect record. The surface suits Halep in this match-up and the Romanian has been playing at a higher level in Montreal and seems better positioned to win this match.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Angelique Kerber in 3 sets

 

SF #2: (10) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs (Q) 🇸🇰 Kristina Kucova

Kristina Kucova continues to defy the odds in Montreal, the Slovakian is now into the biggest semi-final of her career after claiming a straight set win over Johanna Konta on Friday evening. Kucova came through the qualifying draw and has also claimed main draw upset wins over Carla Suarez Navarro and Eugenie Bouchard. Her run should come to an end on Saturday against Madison Keys.

 

Keys has been typically inconsistent throughout her last couple of matches in Montreal this week. Keys needed three sets to beat Venus Williams and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, suffering a second set meltdown in each match. Nevertheless, Keys was too good in the deciding set on each occasion which is all that matters.

This will be the first career meeting between Keys and Kucova. I suspect Keys will be too good. The American has all the weapons to dominate Kucova, the Slovakian doesn’t have many real weapons and will be very reliant on unforced errors from Keys to stand a chance.

Prediction: Madison Keys to defeat Kristina Kucova in 2 sets

Coupe Rogers, Quarter-final Day Match Previews

QF #1: (5) 🇷🇴 Simona Halep vs (9) 🇷🇺 Svetlana Kuznetsova

Friday’s first quarter-final in Montreal promises to be a close match between Halep and Kuznetsova. Halep has arguably been one of the most impressive players in the first couple of rounds at the Rogers Cup but is likely to face her greatest test of the tournament thus far when she comes up against Svetlana Kuznetsova. Halep and Kuznetsova have both advanced to the quarter-final stage without dropping a set: Halep defeated Daria Gavrilova and Karolina Pliskova in straight sets whilst Kuznetsova defeated Alla Kudryavtseva and Petra Kvitova. 

The head-to-head record between Halep and Kuznetsova is split at 3 wins apiece. The Russian won their most recent clash, a 7-6 4-6 6-3 win at the Sydney International earlier this year (Halep was struggling with an injury during that tournament). The Romanian seems to be playing some of her best tennis of the year and should be good enough to get past Kuznetsova on a surface that suits her game.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in 3 sets
QF #2: (2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

Angelique Kerber and Daria Kasatkina will go head-to-head for the first time in what should be an entertaining match-up. Kerber hasn’t been at her best in the early rounds of this year’s Rogers Cup but has been strong enough to advance to the quarter-final stage where she should improve her level. Kerber has claimed three set wins over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Elina Svitolina. Kerber was close to a third round exit given Svitolina twice served for the match in the second set but the German was too good when it mattered most.

 

Daria Kasatkina’s form over her last couple of matches has been far more impressive. The Russian started the week with a comeback victory over Misaki Doi before recording straight set wins over Samantha Stosur and Roberta Vinci. Kasatkina’s 7-5 6-3 win over Vinci was particularly impressive.

I suspect Kerber will be too strong for Kasatkina in this match-up. These two have a similar approach, but clearly Angie has more experience and confidence on the biggest stages. If Kerber is fit and healthy, she should win this match because of her superior strength.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Daria Kasatkina in 2 sets
QF #3: (10) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs (16) 🇷🇺 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Another first time match-up sees Madison Keys come up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Keys and Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the quarter-final stage in a very similar fashion. Pavlyuchenkova defeated Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets whilst Madison Keys defeated Venus Williams in three sets, both seemed like they should have closed the match out in straight sets but both recovered well to eventually win in three.

It’s tough to know how this match will unfold, I suspect Pavlyuchenkova is capable of causing an upset. Keys was extremely erratic throughout her win over Venus, Pavlyuchenkova is the type of opponent that is good at absorbing pace and can force the American into errors.

Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Madison Keys in 3 sets

 

QF #4: (15) 🇬🇧 Johanna Konta vs (Q) 🇸🇰 Kristina Kucova

Friday’s final quarter-final features an unlikely match-up between Johanna Konta and Kristina Kucova. Konta is in great form at the moment after claiming her maiden WTA title in Stanford last week, Konta is now on a 7 match winning streak. Konta has made the most of a favourable draw in Montreal by beating Shelby Rogers, Vania King and Varvara Lepchenko in straight sets on route to the quarter-final stage.

Kristina Kucova is having the week of her life, the Slovakian is into her first quarter-final at this level and has come all the way from the qualifying draw. Kucova has recorded upset victories over Yanina Wickmayer, Carla Suarez Navarro and Eugenie Bouchard. Kucova’s run should come to an end on Friday night, Konta should be too consistent and too powerful for Kucova.

Prediction: Johanna Konta to defeat Kristina Kucova in 2 sets

Petra Kvitova vs Andrea Petkovic, Rogers Cup R2 Preview

Rogers Cup Second Round Match Preview + Prediction 🇨🇦🍁
(12) 🇨🇿 Petra Kvitova vs 🇩🇪 Andrea Petkovic

Former Champion Petra Kvitova will continue her quest for a second Rogers Cup title on Wednesday when she comes against Andrea Petkovic at the second round stage in Montreal. Interestingly the head-to-head record between the pair is split at 4 wins apiece heading into Wednesday’s match.

Petra Kvitova made a commanding start to her 2016 Rogers Cup campaign on Monday evening, the Czech claimed a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 win over Magda Linette. It was a near flawless performance by Petra, a good sign moving forward in Montreal. Kvitova's grass court season was very disappointing by her usual standards, Petra will be keen to make up for that during the U.S Open Series over the next month.

 

Andrea Petkovic has been unable to find her best form throughout season 2016 but still has to time to make up for the disappointment over the next couple of months. Petkovic advanced to the second round in Montreal thanks to a 7-6 6-3 win over Alize Cornet. It was a good win for the German given her poor previous record over the Frenchwoman.

The head-to-head record between Kvitova and Petkovic is split at 4 wins apiece, the pair have also split their last 4 meetings. Their most recent match was during a Fed Cup tie in 2014, Kvitova claimed a 6-2 6-4 win.

I suspect Kvitova will be too strong for Petkovic on this occasion. Kvitova’s first round performance was very impressive and she seems to be in a good place this week, conversely Petkovic is still deprived of confidence and there is not much to suggest that she is playing well enough to beat Kvitova. Despite the head-to-head record I think this is a good match-up for Petra and she should win this match pretty comfortably. 

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Andrea Petkovic in 2 sets

Karolina Pliskova vs Sara Errani, Rogers Cup R2 Preview

Rogers Cup, Second Round Match Preview + Prediction 🇨🇦🍁
(14) 🇨🇿 Karolina Pliskova vs 🇮🇹 Sara Errani

Karolina Pliskova and Sara Errani will go head-to-head at the second round stage of the Rogers Cup on Wednesday in a match-up that features an extreme contrast in styles. This match-up is arguably one of the greatest contrast in styles on the tour, the tall, big serving Czech against the counter-punching Italian.

Karolina Pliskova sneaked through her opening round match with Kateryna Bondarenko on Tuesday, the Czech came from a set down to claim a hard-fought 3-6 6-2 7-5 victory. Pliskova has generally struggled at the biggest events in 2016, especially at the Grand Slam level, therefore Pliskova will be determined to reverse that trend during the U.S Open series starting at the Rogers Cup this week.

 

Sara Errani recorded a typically gutsy victory to advance to the second round in Montreal, Errani claimed a 6-4 7-6 win over Aleksandra Wozniak.Wozniak, Errani's consistency and tenacity got her over the line. Errani has generally struggled in 2016 apart from her surprise week in Dubai earlier in the year where she won the title. The Italian will need to produce some of her best tennis if she is to get past Pliskova on Wednesday.

The head-to-head record between Pliskova and Errani is split at 1 win apiece. Pliskova won the most recent match between the pair, Pliskova claimed a comfortable 6-0 6-3 win over Errani in Zhuhai last year. Wednesday’s match will be played on a similarly quick hard court surface. Pliskova's recent form hasn’t been great so I suspect this match will be a bit more competitive than their Zhuhai match but ultimately Pliskova should always be too strong for Errani on this surface.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Sara Errani in 2 sets

Yulia Putintseva vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Rogers Cup R1 Preview

Coupe Rogers, 1st Round Match Preview + Prediction 🇨🇦🍁
🇰🇿 Yulia Putintseva vs (16) 🇷🇺 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Yulia Putintseva and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will go head-to-head for the second time in as many months when they meet at the first round stage of the Rogers Cup on Tuesday. Pavlyuchenkova claimed a straight set victory over Yulia at Wimbledon last month, the Kazakh will be desperate to avenge that loss at the Rogers Cup but it will be tough against an opponent that she does not match up well against.

Yulia Putintseva’s form throughout season 2016 has generally been quite steady, 2016 has undoubtedly been the Kazakh’s best season thus far and seems like a turning point in her career. Yulia started her North American hard court campaign last week in Washington, Yulia made the most of a reasonably favourable draw to reach the semi-final stage. Yulia recorded a couple of victories over players ranked well below her without being too convincing and was ultimately no match for Yanina Wickmayer at the semi-final stage where she lost in straight sets, a disappointing ending to the tournament for Yulia.

 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will be competing in her first tournament since Wimbledon where she seemingly turned her season around with a confidence boosting run to the quarter-finals where she ultimately succumbed to Serena Williams in two tight sets. The Russian has generally struggled throughout the year but I expect her results to improve over the next couple of months, at a stage of the year that Anastasia has generally performed quite well.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place in the second round at Wimbledon last month, Pavlyuchenkova claimed a 7-5 6-1 victory. Pavlyuchenkova trailed 3-5 before winning 9 of the last 10 games in the match. Yulia should have a slightly greater chance on Tuesday, a hard court gives Yulia a greater chance because there will be more extended rallies but ultimately I think Pavlyuchenkova will once again be too powerful.

Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Yulia Putintseva in 3 sets

Monica Niculescu vs Jelena Ostapenko, Rogers Cup R1 Preview

Coupe Rogers, 1st Round Match Preview + Prediction 🇨🇦🍁
🇷🇴 Monica Niculescu vs 🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko

Monica Niculescu and Jelena Ostapenko will go head-to-head for the first time on Tuesday when they collide at the opening round stage of the Rogers Cup in Montreal. This is an interesting match-up between two very different competitors, Niculescu will bring her variety whilst Ostapenko brings the power.

Niculescu and Ostapenko both started their U.S Open series campaigns last week, both suffered disappointing first round exits. Niculescu was defeated by Christina McHale in straight sets whilst Jelena Ostapenko suffered an even more disappointing loss as she was defeated by Catherine Bellis in straight sets in Stanford.

 

This is an interesting match-up because of the contrast in styles, I suspect Ostapenko will get the better of Niculescu on this occasion. The match will be on Ostapenko’s racquet. Ostapenko has all the firepower to hit Niculescu off the court, however her level of maturity and consistency are still questionable and Niculescu will do everything that she can to disrupt the Latvian’s rhythm. Ultimately Ostapenko should find a way to come through this match if she can maintain her composure.

Prediction: Jelena Ostapenko to defeat Monica Niculescu in 3 sets

Lucie Safarova vs Eugenie Bouchard, Rogers Cup R1 Preview

Coupe Rogers, 1st Round Match Preview + Prediction 🇨🇦🍁
🇨🇿 Lucie Safarova vs 🇨🇦 Eugenie Bouchard

The most intriguing first round clash at the 2016 Rogers Cup sees local hopeful Eugenie Bouchard come up against Lucie Safarova. Safarova and Bouchard have both been unable to produce their best tennis on a consistent basis in 2016 given both have had to regain form after lengthy injury layoffs, both are now in better physical shape and will be looking to play better tennis throughout the second half of the year

Lucie Safarova is still searching for her first win on a hard court in 2016, furthermore Lucie has generally struggled at the Rogers Cup in recent years having suffered a first round loss in 2 of her last 3 appearances at the event. The Czech should be well positioned to play at a higher level during the U.S Open series, Lucie will be in the best physical shape that she has been in all year and will be joined by coach Rob Steckley in Montreal this week. 

 

Eugenie Bouchard has also struggled throughout season 2016 but has seemed to be close to finding some good form. There is always a lot of pressure on Genie when she competes at the Rogers Cup given the local interest in her performance. Bouchard has been unable to deal with that pressure having only managed to claim 2 main draw victories at the event in her 6 main draw appearances. Bouchard made a disappointing start to the U.S Open series last week in Washington where she suffered a surprise straight set loss to Camila Giorgi in the first round.

Lucie Safarova won the only previous encounter between the pair, a 3-6 6-3 6-2 on the hard courts of Quebec back in 2013. Much had changed since their only previous match but another three set match seems likely. Both ladies will be looking to gain confidence and momentum heading into the Olympics and the U.S Open, this is a tough match to call given how even this match-up seems, I’m going to side with the Canadian. It’s about time Bouchard claimed some decent victories at the Rogers Cup, this seems like a winnable match for her.

Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard to defeat Lucie Safarova in 3 sets

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Venus Williams Preview & Prediction – Rogers Cup Final

And then there were two… Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams will meet on Sunday in the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Venus Williams turned back the clock with a stunning come from behind victory over younger sister Serena in the semi-finals, her first victory over the defending champion in over 5 years. Aga Radwanska reached the final by avenging her two recent loses to Ekaterina Makarova with a hard fought 7-6 7-6 victory over the Russian.

Aga Radwanska came into this tournament deprived of confidence and on the brink of falling outside the top 5 in the WTA rankings for the first time since February 2012. The pole has turned things around remarkably this week in Montreal. Radwanska began her week with a tough straight sets victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, coming from behind in each set to snap a two match losing streak. In the third round Aga outlasted Sabine Lisicki in three topsy-turvy sets before thumping an injury hampered Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals. Aga was in fine form against Ekaterina Makarova during her semi-final victory on Saturday evening, the Pole hit 28 winners to just 14 unforced errors and for the second match in a row hit zero double faults. Aga’s defence was as good as ever, she frustrated Makarova throughout the match, forcing the Russian into errors she wouldn’t usually make.

Venus Williams has done things the hard way this week in Montreal. The American has been forced to three sets in four of her five matches. Venus has won three grueling matches in a row. In the third round she defeated Angelique Kerber in one of the matches of the season. Angie threw everything at Venus in the final set, but Venus kept a cool head to advance to the quarter-fianls. In her last two matches, Venus has been forced to come from a set down, overcoming negative head-to-head records to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro and then Serena Williams. On the back of her stunning results this week, Venus moves back into the top 20, and is now the second highest ranked American.

Venus Williams has a 5-3 head to head record over the world number 5; However Aga comprehensively defeated the American in their two most recent encounters. Venus Williams tried to defend her two recent loses to the Pole by saying that she ‘had just returned to the tour and was in a position to compete at a level high enough to defeat the Pole.’ Venus is certainly playing much better than she was back in 2012 when Aga’s two victories took place, however I still doubt Venus has what it takes to defeat the Pole on sunday afternoon.

Aga has reached the business end of numerous big tournaments already this season (Australian Open, Doha and Indian Wells) but on each occasion she seemingly ran out of gas and suffered some uncharacteristic loses. On this occasion, Aga should be fresh and ready to produce her best tennis when it really counts. I can’t say the same thing about Venus who must surely be running on empty after three consecutive grueling three set matches. Agnieszka will frustrate Venus, pushing her to her limits and forcing her to hit a large amount of errors.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Venus Williams in straight sets

Serena Williams vs Venus Williams Preview & Prediction – Rogers Cup Semi-Final #1

(1) Serena Williams vs Venus Williams

Montreal will play host to an all Williams semi-final on Saturday afternoon. This will be just the second match between the Williams sisters in the past five years. Both Serena and Venus survived epic three set quarter-finals. Serena was forced to fight from a set down to defeat an inspired Caroline Wozniacki. Whilst Venus Williams showed the fighting qualities that have seen her win multiple Grand Slam titles in her gutsy victory over Carla Suarez Navarro.

Serena Williams continues to win despite not quite being at her best. After a comprehensive first up victory over Sam Stosur, the world number 1 has battled her way to two tough victories over Lucie Safarova and Caroline Wozniacki. Serena was able to stay calm and maintain her composure throughout her quarter-final match against Wozniacki. When Serena gets to this stage of a big event she is almost impossible to defeat, she just refuses to lose.

Venus Williams has turned back the clock this week in Montreal. The former world number 1 comes into this semi-final on the back of two grueling three set victories. Agaisnt Kerber, Venus took the opening set before being forced into a decider where she would eventually prevail. On friday, Venus defied the odds to come from a set down to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro. What makes this run even more remarkable is that prior to this event Venus had never won a match in Canada. She will not be satisfied with a semi-final place and will be eager to defeat her younger sister for the first time since Dubai in 2009.

The Williams sisters have a long, long history; Serena leads the head-to-head series 15-10. Serena has won 5 straight matches over her older sister; the most recent victory was a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 win in the semi-finals of Charleston last year. I suspect both Serena and Venus will be quite fatigued heading into this match, Serena has played a lot of tennis in past week and a bit having won the title in Stanford last week. However it is Venus who I suspect will be worse off. Venus has played one extra match this week; three of her matches have gone the distance. All things being equal, Serena should be too good Venus on Saturday. Serena cannot afford a lapse in concentration heading into the U.S Open

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Venus Williams in straight sets

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Ekaterina Makarova Preview & Prediction – Rogers Cup Semi-final #2

(3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Ekaterina Makarova

Agnieszka Radwanska and Ekaterina Makarova will do battle on Saturday evening for a place in the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal. This is a massive opportunity for both ladies to reach the final of a premier 5 event. Agnieszka Radwanska will be looking to avenge her shock loss to Makarova at Wimbledon earlier in the year.

Aga reached the semi-finals with a straightforward 6-2 6-2 victory over a frustrated Victoria Azarenka. The Belarusian was clearly hampered by an injury to her left leg, Vika struggled through the match in pain, to her credit she refused to give up. Credit also has to go to Radwanska; she played a very solid match. The Pole hit 14 winners to just a miserly 4 unforced errors. Aga served well throughout the match, and successfully moved Vika around the court.

Ekaterina advanced to the semi-finals with a hard fought three set victory over qualifier Coco Vandeweghe. Makarova looked to be in complete control of the match mid way through the second set but Coco found another gear to force the match into a decider. An exhausted Vandeweghe finally succumbed in the final set, Makarova was able to move her around the court and open up some angles. Makarova is having a great week, the Russian came from a set down to upset Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round and will be full of confidence heading into one of the biggest matches of her career.

Aga has a 3-2 record over the Russian however Makarova has upset Radwanska in their two most recent encounters. The first victory was a 6-4 6-4 win in the fourth round of last years U.S Open. In the fourth round of Wimbledon this year Makarova destroyed Radwanska 6-3 6-0. This was one of Aga’s worst losses in recent times; she looked helpless and spiritless on court. The Pole will be desperate for revenge here and I like her chances. Aga is certainly the more experienced when it comes to playing in big matches which could be a real factor in this match. This is arguably the biggest match of Makarova’s career so nerves will be an issue. I was very impressed with Aga’s performance against Vika and I think she will continue that good form with a solid win over the Russian.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets