Simona Halep vs. Sloane Stephens, Montreal Final Preview

🇨🇦🏆 Rogers Cup, Montreal. Final Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇺🇸 (3) Sloane Stephens

Sunday’s championships match in Montreal will be a heavyweight battle between arguably the 2 best players in the world as world number 1 and former champion Simona Halep takes on reigning U.S Open champion Sloane Stephens. It is Halep who has had the better of this match-up, the Romanian has won the last 5 meetings between the two including a notable victory in the Roland Garros final earlier this year. Stephens is playing great tennis this week, can she finally get the better of Halep?

Simona Halep of Romania playing doubles at the 2018 Coupe Rogers WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Simona Halep may have made a slow start to the tournament but she enters Sunday’s final in excellent form. Halep required over 3 hours to get the better of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (7-6 4-6 7-5) in the opening round. Halep has been on a roll since that tough opening round match, defeating Venus Williams (6-2 6-2), Caroline Garcia (7-5 6-1) and Ashleigh Barty (6-4 6-1) in straight sets. The level of tennis Halep produced in her wins over Garcia and Barty was particularly impressive, tennis worthy of a world number 1.

Sloane Stephens has been all business right from the offset in Montreal. The American has reached the final without dropping a set, victories over Francoise Abanda (6-0 6-2), Carla Suarez Navarro (6-2 7-5), Anastasija Sevastova (6-2 6-2) and Elina Svitolina (6-3 6-3). Stephens saved her best tennis for an extremely impressive semi-final win over Elina Svitolina, Sloane’s forehand was dominant from start to finish as she hit the defending champion off the court. More of the same is required for Sloane to have a chance on Sunday in what has been a troublesome match-up for her.

Halep holds a dominant 6-2 H2H record over Stephens. Halep has won the last 5 meetings between the pair, 4 of those 5 matches were straight set victories. The most recent match between the pair took place in the Roland Garros final earlier this year, a 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory for Halep.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Simona Halep vs. Ashleigh Barty, Montreal SF Preview

🇨🇦 Rogers Cup, Montreal. SF Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇦🇺 (15) Ashleigh Barty

Simona Halep and Ashleigh Barty will go head-to-head for this first time when they meet in Saturday’s first semi-final in Montreal. Halep and Barty were both very impressive in straight set quarter-final victories over quality opposition on Friday and will head into this match full of confidence. Does Barty have the precision required to get past the world number 1 or will the Romanian be too strong?

Simona Halep of Romania celebrates winning her third-round match at the 2018 Coupe Rogers WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Simona Halep produced some sensational tennis to defeat Caroline Garcia 7-5 6-1 and reach the semi-final in Montreal. Halep and Garcia went toe-to-toe for the majority of the first set, but Halep broke clear later in the opener as she found a level that not many can match. Halep, a former champion in Montreal, maintained an extremely high level in the second set as she ran away with the match. It was an especially impressive performance given Halep spent 4 hours on court the day before, a marathon 3 set win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and a straight set win over Venus Williams.

Ash Barty will be competing in arguably the biggest match of her career thus far when she takes to the court against the world number 1. Barty heads into this match with good momentum after a 6-3 6-1 demolition of Kiki Bertens confirmed her spot in the semi-finals. Prior to that win Barty required 3 sets to get by Irina-Camelia Begu in the opening round before defeating Alison Van Uytvanck and Alize Cornet in straight sets.

It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out as the pair do battle for the very first time.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Simona Halep vs. Caroline Garcia, Montreal QF Preview

🇨🇦 Rogers Cup, Montreal. QF Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇫🇷 (6) Caroline Garcia

A blockbuster quarter-final clash in Montreal sees former champion and world number 1 Simona Halep take on the red-hot 6th seeded Caroline Garcia. Halep battled through two matches on Thursday, less than 24 hours later she comes up against Garcia who is fresh from a dominant victory over Maria Sharapova. Halep has generally had the better of this match-up but Garcia will still fancy her chances here.

Simona Halep of Romania celebrates winning her third-round match at the 2018 Coupe Rogers WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Simona Halep started her Montreal campaign with an epic 3 set victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a 7-6 4-6 7-5 victory in a match that lasted over 3 hours and was played across two days. Halep had to front up again later that night, hours after her win over Pavlyuchenkova. Luckily for Halep it was a very comfortable match, a 6-2 6-2 win over Venus Williams, the American was clearly injured and was an easy kill for Halep.

Caroline Garcia enters this quarter-final clash full of confidence fresh from arguably her best performance of the season thus far. Garcia smashed Maria Sharapova 6-3 6-2 in a near-flawless performance. Garcia’s aggressive return of serve was the highlight of her win over Sharapova as was her devastating play from the baseline, very clean hitting that she maintained without hitting many unforced errors. Prior to that win Garcia came from a set down to defeat Magdalena Rybarikova.

Halep holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Garcia. Halep has won the last couple of matches between the two, including a 6-2 6-3 win in Rome earlier this year in their most recent match. Garcia’s sole victory over Halep came in last year’s Beijing final, a 6-4 7-6 win for the Frenchwoman.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Caroline Garcia vs. Maria Sharapova, Montreal R3 Preview

Rogers Cup, Montreal. R3 Preview
🇫🇷 (6) Caroline Garcia vs. 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova

Caroline Garcia and Maria Sharapova will renew hostilities when they meet at the third round stage of the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Thursday. It is Sharapova who has generally had the better of this match-up having won the first 4 meetings between the two. However, it was Garcia who beat Sharapova in their most recent meeting earlier this year in Stuttgart. Can the 6th seed make it back-to-back wins over the Russian?

Caroline Garcia of France in action during her first-round match at the 2018 Coupe Rogers WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Caroline Garcia kick-started her Rogers Cup campaign with a hard-fought 4-6 6-1 6-3 win over Magdalena Rybarikova. Garcia was wayward throughout the first set but cut back her unforced error tally in the second and third sets as she took control of the match with her strong court positioning and powerful game. Garcia will face a far more dangerous opponent in the next round against an in-form Sharapova.

Maria Sharapova has been brutal on route to the third round in Montreal. Sharapova started the week with a 6-1 6-2 win over Sesil Karatantcheva before producing one of her better performances in recent times to thrash the 12th seeded Daria Kasatkina 6-0 6-2. Sharapova has not won 3 consecutive matches on a hard court since Shenzhen in the first week on the year, can she change that in Montreal?

Sharapova holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Garcia, including two comfortable victories in their two previous meetings on a hard court. It was Garcia who won the their most recent match, a 3-6 7-6 6-4 win on clay in Stuttgart earlier this year. Expect another close match between two confident players when they meet in Montreal on Thursday.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Elise Mertens vs. Eugenie Bouchard, Montreal R1 Preview

🇨🇦 Rogers Cup, Montreal R1 Preview
🇧🇪 (14) Elise Mertens vs. 🇨🇦 (wc) Eugenie Bouchard

The face of Canadian tennis will begin her Rogers Cup campaign on Tuesday, Eugenie Bouchard will face a tough test when she takes on the 14th seeded Elise Mertens. This has been a good match-up for Mertens in the past and the Belgian has been one of the most consistent players on tour in 2018, does Bouchard have it in her to step it up and o cause a big upset at home?

Elise Mertens of Belgium in action during her quarter-final match at the 2018 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Elise Mertens started her North American hard court swing in style last week as she reached the semi-finals in San Jose. A noteworthy straight set win over Johanna Konta was the highlight of the week in San Jose, however the week did end in disappointment as Mertens seemed to break down physically in her semi-final loss to Mihaela Buzarnescu from a set up. It will be interesting to see where Mertens is at physically in Montreal.

Eugenie Bouchard has dropped down to the ITF level of late, playing a couple of lower level tournaments on clay after Wimbledon. Bouchard will begin her North American hard court swing in Montreal, the Rogers Cup has typically not been a successful tournament for Bouchard, she has struggled to deal with the pressure and attention she receives when playing at home.

Mertens crushed Bouchard in their only previous meeting at the tour level, a 6-2 6-0 win on grass in s-Hertogenbosch in 2016. More recently, Mertens defeated Bouchard 6-4 6-4 at the Hopman cup in January this year.

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Victoria Azarenka vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Montreal R1 Preview

🇨🇦 Rogers Cup, Montreal R1 Preview
🇧🇾 (wc) Victoria Azarenka vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

Victoria Azarenka begins her Rogers Cup campaign on Tuesday evening in Montreal. The Belarusian will come up against France’s Kristina Mladenovic. There is a bit of uncertainty surrounding Azarenka heading into this event after injury forced her to retire from her quarter-final match in San Jose last week. Can Azarenka rebound in Montreal?

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action during her second-round match at the 2018 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Injury continues to interrupt the progress of Victoria Azarenka. The 2-time former Grand Slam champion has shown glimpses of her best in 2018 but has not been able to consistently compete at a high level. Azarenka started her U.S hard court swing last week in San Jose where she played some good tennis on route to the quarter-finals. Unfortunately the week ended in disappointment as Azarenka was forced to retire injured from a set up against Collins, a sudden back complaint early in the second set cut her week short.

Kristina Mladenovic also started her U.S hard court swing in San Jose last week. Mladenovic’s campaign was over at the first hurdle as she was defeated by Timea Babos 4-6 2-6. Prior to that Mladenovic had a decent grass court season, she is certainly playing better lately than she did during her horror run late last year.

The only previous match between the pair took place at Wimbledon in 2015, Azarenka claimed a 6-4 6-4 victory.

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Garbine Muguruza vs. Anastasija Sevastova, Montreal R2 Preview

🇨🇦 Rogers Cup, Montreal R2 Preview
🇪🇸 (7) Garbine Muguruza vs. 🇱🇻 Anastasija Sevastova

Garbine Muguruza opens her Rogers Cup campaign with a tough test against Anastasija Sevastova on Wednesday. Muguruza received a bye through the first round in Montreal whilst Sevastova crushed Aleksandra Krunic. This has been a troublesome match-up for Muguruza in the past, expect the Latvian to again prove troublesome for the Spaniard here, can Sevastova pull off the upset?

Garbine Muguruza of Spain talks to the press during All Access Hour at the 2018 Coupe Rogers WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Garbine Muguruza will be kick-starting her U.S hard court swing this week in Montreal. The Spaniard was scheduled to play in San Jose last week but was forced to withdraw with an arm injury. It’s always hard to know what to expect from Muguruza when she starts a new period of the season so it will be interesting to see how she handles herself in a tough early test in Montreal.

Anastasija Sevastova is also starting her U.S hard court swing this week. Sevastova went back to clay after Wimbledon, winning the title in Bucharest and reaching the quarter-finals in Moscow. The Latvian made light work of the transition back to the hard courts, making a clinical start in Montreal by thrashing Aleksandra Krunic 6-1 6-0.

Muguruza holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Sevastova. Sevastova caused a huge upset when she beat Muguruza at the US Open in 2016, since then Muguruza has won their two latest clashes, most recently a 6-2 6-4 victory at the Australian Open last year.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Caroline Garcia vs. Magdalena Rybarikova, Montreal R2 Preview

🇨🇦 Rogers Cup, Montreal R2 Preview
🇫🇷 (6) Caroline Garcia vs. 🇸🇰 Magdalena Rybarikova

The 6th seeded Caroline Garcia begins her Rogers Cup campaign on Tuesday with a second round clash against Magdalena Rybarikova. Garcia received a bye through the first round whilst Rybarikova came from a set and a break down to defeat Barbora Strycova. This should be an entertaining clash between two versatile players.

Caroline Garcia of France talks to the media at the 2018 Coupe Rogers WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Caroline Garcia will be back on court for the first time since a disappointing opening round loss at Wimbledon at the hands of Belinda Bencic. It has been over a month since that straight set loss at Wimbledon, so it is tough to know what to expect from Garcia in Montreal. What is for sure is Garcia will have the crowd on her side in Montreal, as is always the case with the French players.

Magdalena Rybarikova made an impressive start to her U.S hard court swing, fighting from the brink of defeat to defeat Barbora Strycova 3-6 7-6 6-2. Rybarikova looked destined for defeat throughout the second set, Strycova served for the match at 5-4 and had several leads in the tiebreak, however Rybarikova was much more composed and ultimately ran over the top of a Strycova.

Caroline Garcia holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Rybarikova. The most recent match between the pair took place in New Haven in 2015, Garcia claimed a 7-6 6-4 victory.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

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