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

Madison Keys vs Simona Halep, Rogers Cup Final Preview

Rogers Cup Final: (10) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs (5) 🇷🇴 Simona Halep

Sunday’s Rogers Cup final promises to be an extremely close, competitive encounter between Madison Keys and Simona Halep. This match-up features an entertaining contrast in styles: the powerful American up against the consistent Romanian, consistently usually prevails in these types of match-ups but Keys is playing well enough to suggest she has what it takes to win the biggest title of her career.

Madison Keys is into her third final of 2016 and will be aiming for her second title. The American cruised past Elena Vesnina and Madison Brengle in her opening matches before requiring three sets to get past Venus Williams and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Madison confirmed her spot in the final with a commanding 6-2 6-1 win over Kristina Kucova in what was a near flawless performance.

 

Simona Halep has progressed through a very tough draw to reach her second Rogers Cup final. Simona claimed straight set wins over Daria Gavrilova and Karolina Pliskova in her opening couple of matches before requiring three sets to get past Svetlana Kuznetsova and Angelique Kerber.

Halep holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Keys. Simona has won their two most recent clashes, a 5-7 6-0 6-1 win in Rome in 2014 and more recently a 6-7 6-4 6-3 win at Wimbledon last month.

This is a tough match to call, the result will depend on Madison’s level. Given Madison’s recent form I suspect she is playing well enough to get the job done. Fatigue could be a factor for Halep as she is also into the final in the doubles draw. A fresh, firing Keys has all the weapons to hit through Halep, If Keys serves well she will be tough to beat. This really could go either way.

Prediction: Madison Keys to defeat Simona Halep in 3 sets

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

Roberta Vinci vs Flavia Pennetta, U.S Open Final Preview

U.S Open Final: Roberta Vinci vs (26) Flavia Pennetta

No one in their right mind could have predicted an all Italian final between Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta at Flushing Meadows. The tennis world was stunned by two incredible upsets on semi-final day, leading to the unlikeliest of finals. Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to claim a maiden Grand Slam title, an achievement neither lady thought would ever be realistically possible. Both ladies will enter this match full of confidence, both in career best form. Either way, there will be a fairy tale ending to the tournament.

Vinci took full advantage of an extremely favourable draw to reach the semi-finals. The Italian did not come up against a seeded opponent on route to the final four, picking up victories over Vania King, Denisa Allertova, Mariana Duque-Marino and Kristina Mladenovic. No one gave Vinci a chance in her first career Grand Slam semi-final when she came up against three-time defending champion Serena Williams. However Vinci played the match of her life, causing one of the biggest upsets in the open era with a 2-6 6-4 6-4 victory over the world number 1.

 

Serena Williams didn’t actually play a terrible match, she certainly was not at her very best but she played pretty well throughout the semi-final clash. Vinci gave absolutely nothing away and came up with some outstanding touch at the net. Vinci held her nerve unbelievably well, closing out the match to love to reach her first ever Grand Slam final.

Flavia Pennetta’s outstanding record in New York has just become a little better. The Italian has reached the quarter-finals or better in 6 of her last 7 appearances at Flushing Meadows, Flavia now has an unbelievable opportunity to claim a maiden Grand Slam title at event she feels extremely comfortable at.

Pennetta got off to a slow start in New York, needing three sets to defeat Jarmila Gajdosova in a game that could have easily either way. Pennetta has gradually improved throughout the fortnight and will enter Saturday’s final full of confidence after victories over Sam Stosur, Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep. The Italian’s 6-1 6-3 semi-final thrashing of Simona Halep was her most impressive performance of the week, a complete performance. Pennetta was solid but also aggressive, outplaying a somewhat fatigued Halep from the baseline.

 

Flavia Pennetta holds a slight 5-4 head-to-head record over her compatriot, Flavia has also won three of the last four meetings between the pair. The two have only played twice since 2010, Flavia winning both quite comfortably. In their most recent encounter, Flavia prevailed 6-4 6-1 at the quarter-finals stage of the 2013 U.S Open.

This is such a difficult match to call, Flavia and Roberta both enter this match in great form and with everything to play for. Nerves will undoubtedly be a huge factor in this match, as both ladies know that this will probably be their first and only chance to win a Grand Slam. Flavia looks to have the slight edge, the Italian has beaten a number of quality opponents this week, sustaining a high level of tennis. Roberta’s form was questionable before the semi-final, it will tough for Roberta to come back down to earth after such an outstanding victory. Either way, it will be magical occasion.

Prediction: Flavia Pennetta to defeat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets

Serena Williams vs Roberta Vinci, U.S Open SF Preview

U.S Open SF #1: (1) Serena Williams vs Roberta Vinci

Serena Williams is just two wins away from creating history, two wins away from claiming the rare Calendar Slam. The American will be the overwhelming favourite in the first semi-final on Thursday evening when she takes to the court against first time Grand Slam semi-finalist Roberta Vinci. On paper this the ultimate mismatch.

Serena Williams has been under extreme pressure in New York as she aims to achieve the Calendar Slam. The world number 1 has had a couple of nervy moments on route to the semi-finals. Most notably in the third round where Serena dropped the first set against Bethanie Mattek Sands and looked to be in trouble in a tight second set. Serena also dropped the second set in her quarter-final clash with Venus. On both occasions, Serena was far too good in the final set, when it mattered most. Serena should find things far more straightforward on Thursday evening against Vinci, an opponent she has totally dominated in the past.

 

Roberta Vinci has had a dream run to her first Grand Slam semi-final. The Italian’s draw has been extremely favourable. The highest ranked opponent that Vinci was forced to defeat on route to the final four was Kristina Mladenovic. Vinci progressed through to the final four with an extremely hard-fought 6-3 5-7 6-4 victory over Mladenovic, one of the biggest victories of Roberta’s career.

Serena holds a perfect 4-0 head-to-head record over the Italian, all four victories were in straight sets and all were quite comfortable. The two have played once before in 2015, Serena prevailed in a relatively tight match 6-4 6-3 in Toronto. Roberta’s awkward game did momentarily challenge the world number 1.

It’s almost impossible to see this match resulting in anything other than a straight set victory for Serena. At this stage of a Grand Slam, the American is usually unbeatable and is a couple of classes above the Italian.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Roberta Vinci in 2 sets

Victoria Azarenka vs Simona Halep, U.S Open QF Preview

U.S Open QF #4: (20) Victoria Azarenka vs (2) Simona Halep

The match-up we have all been waiting to see for a couple of years will finally take place on Wednesday when Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep go head-to-head for a place in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows. The two haven’t played since Halep’s meteoric rise up the rankings in 2013. Azarenka and Halep are clearly the two biggest threats to Serena Williams on tour at the moment, it will be fascinating to see who comes through this one and goes on to potentially meet Serena in the final.

Victoria Azarenka has been close to her determined best this week in New York. The two-time former finalist cruised through her opening two matches in straight sets against Lucie Hradecka and Yanina Wickmayer. The Belarussian’s best performance came in the third round where she defeated Angelique Kerber 7-5 2-6 6-4 in one of the matches of the tournament thus far. Azarenka hit 51 winners past the German in one of her best performances of the year.

 

Victoria Azarenka advanced to the quarter-final stage in the New York for the fourth year in a row with a relatively comfortable 6-4 6-3 victory over Varvara Lepchenko. Azarenka was a little more solid form the baseline and served a little more effectively. Vika is set to face a massive challenge on Wednesday when she comes up against the determined world number 2.

Simona Halep raced through her first three matches in New York without dropping a set. The Romanian recorded comfortable victories over Erakovic, Bondarenko and Rogers. Simona’s fourth round victory over Sabine Lisicki was less straightforward and not very convincing. It was a messy match with a lot of unforced errors but the Romanian was a little more consistent and ultimately prevailed 6-7 7-5 6-2 to set up a much anticipated clash with Azarenka.

 

Halep and Azarenka have not played each other since 2012. Azarenka holds a 2-0 head-to-head record over Halep, both matches were convincing straight set victories for the Belarussian. Azarenka thrashed Halep 6-1 6-1 in Linz back in 2012 in what was their most recent encounter. This promises to be a very different match, Halep has improved significantly since their last meeting.

Victoria Azarenka’s form throughout the tournament has been slightly better than Halep’s, the Romanian also enters this match with a couple of injury concerns. Halep was forced to take a medical time-out during her fourth round match against Lisicki and was clearly in pain throughout the match. Halep was able to push through the pain but will need to make a spectacular recovery to play at a high enough level to defeat Azarenka. For this reason, I have side with Azarenka. The Belarusian’s slightly more aggressive game and ability to come to the net and finish the points will also be a big factor.

Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to defeat Simona Halep in 3 sets

Flavia Pennetta vs Petra Kvitova, U.S Open QF Preview

U.S Open QF #3: (26) Flavia Pennetta vs (5) Petra Kvitova

A fascinating quarter-final match-up at Flushing Meadows sees two-timer former Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova come up against former U.S Open semi-finalist Flavia Pennetta. This looks like a very even match on paper, Kvitova will start as the slight favourite however Pennetta’s record at the U.S Open is much better than Kvitova’s, the Italian also has a decent record against Kvitova and will be very confident heading into Wednesday’s quarter-final clash.

Flavia Pennetta has now reached the quarter-final stage at Flushing Meadows in six of her last seven appearances at the event, an amazing record considering she has only reached the quarter-finals of one other Grand Slam in that period of time. Pennetta’s pathway to the quarter-finals hasn’t been extremely difficult, to the Italian’s credit she has taken advantage of a very favourable draw.

 

Pennetta’s form prior to New York wasn't great, she hasn’t played outstanding tennis this week but she has done what she has needed to do. The Italian started the tournament off with a topsy-turvy three set victory over Jarmila Gajdosova before comfortably beating Monica Niculescu in straight sets. After a slow start to her third round match with Petra Cetkovska, The Italian finally got going.

Pennetta recovered to claim 1-6 6-1 6-4 victory over Petra Cetkovska before producing her best performance of the tournament to comfortably defeat Sam Stosur 6-4 6-4. Pennetta served extremely well, Flavia’s serve wasn’t broken once. Flavia’s game from the baseline was equally impressive, absorbing and redirecting Stosur’s shots well to record her seventh victory from seven matches against the Australian.

After a slow start to the U.S Open series, Petra Kvitova has found some wonderful form in the last two weeks. Kvitova arrived in New York full of confidence after winning the title in New Haven and is now on an 8 match winning streak after 4 consecutive straight set victories to reach the quarter-final stage at Flushing Meadows for the first time in her career.

 

Kvitova has also benefited from a relatively favourable draw. The Czech has picked up straight set victories over Siegemund, Gibbs, Schmiedlova and Konta. Petra has served particularly well in New York, the Czech has been broken on just 1 occasion in her first 4 matches, and did not face a break point in two of those matches. Petra’s service games are likely to come under greater pressure on Wednesday when she comes up against Flavia Pennetta.

The head-to-head record between Petra and Flavia is split at 3 wins apiece. Flavia won the first three meetings between the pair whilst Kvitova has won the 3 most recent meetings between the pair. The two haven’t played since the 2012 London Olympics, it was Kvitova who prevailed comfortably with a 6-3 6-0 victory.

This promises to be an extremely close match, I’m just leaning towards a Pennetta victory. Kvitova has now played two full weeks in a row and was starting to look a little tired towards the end of her fourth round match against Konta. Pennetta loves playing in New York and has a far greater record at Flushing Meadows compared to Kvitova. The Italian will really test Kvitova physically.

Prediction: Flavia Pennetta to defeat Petra Kvitova in 3 sets

Serena Williams vs Venus Williams, U.S Open QF Preview

U.S Open QF #1: (1) Serena Williams vs (23) Venus Williams

A blockbuster quarter-final on Tuesday night on Arthur Ashe Stadium sees the Williams sisters go head-to-head for the 27th time. Serena will need to get past her older sister if she is to keep her hopes of achieving the Calendar Grand Slam alive. Both sisters played some superb tennis in the fourth round, this will hopefully be a high quality encounter.

There has been an unprecedented focus on Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows as she looks to claim all four Grand Slam titles in the same year. The American threw in some unconvincing performances in the early rounds but really got her game together in a commanding fourth round victory over Madison Keys.

 

Serena was forced to work much harder than expected to obtain victories over Kiki Bertens and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Serena was pushed to three sets by Mattek-Sands and came extremely close to going a set down against Bertens. Serena’s fourth round clash with Madison Keys loomed as a real danger match, but Serena significantly stepped up her level to record a 6-3 6-3 victory. Serena gave very little away, committing just 6 unforced errors, totally overwhelming Keys. If Serena maintains a similar level she will be impossible to beat over the next week.

If anyone has what It takes to beat Serena, it is Venus Williams. This is an extremely awkward match-up for both, Serena has always said that Venus is her toughest opponent. After a slow start to the week, Venus Williams is really starting to run into some great form in New York. Venus recorded unconvincing three set victories over Monica Puig and Irina Falconi in her first two matches before really stepping things up. Venus produced one of her best performances of the year to defeat Belinda Bencic 6-3 6-4 in the third round before crushing Kontaveit 6-2 6-1.

 

Serena Williams holds a 15-11 head-to-head record over Venus, including 5 of the last 7. The two have played just once in 2015, it was Serena Williams who prevailed quite comfortably, winning 6-4 6-3 at Wimbledon. Venus has a good record against Serena on hard courts, and won their most recent match on a hard court 6-7 6-2 6-3 in Montreal last year.

Serena’s performance over Madison Keys will give her the confidence she needs moving forward. Serena should be far too strong for Venus on Tuesday night if she is able to keep her emotions in check. The world number 1 does everything a little better than Venus. If Serena throws in a wayward, nervous performance then Venus will certainly be able to take advantage of the situation (if she is fully committed to do so).

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Venus Williams in 2 sets

Kristina Mladenovic vs Roberta Vinci, U.S Open QF Preview

U.S Open QF #2: Kristina Mladenovic vs Roberta Vinci

The only quarter-final which features two unseeded players sees Kristina Mladenovic come up against Roberta Vinci, both ladies have exceeded all expectations in New York and both will be looking to reach their first ever Grand Slam semi-final. This is an enormous opportunity for both ladies who are at very different stages of their respective careers, with so much on the line, it will be interesting to see who steps up and makes the most of this golden opportunity.

Kristina Mladenovic is finally starting to fulfil her massive potential, reaching her first career Grand Slam quarter-final. Mladenovic stormed through her opening three matches, defeating Kuznetsova, Jovanovski and Kasatkina in straight sets. Mladenovic’s biggest victory came in the fourth round, where she produced a stunning performance to defeat Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 4-6 6-1.

 

In the last match of the first week, Mladenovic shinned brightly on Arthur Ashe Stadium in her victory over Makarova. Mladenovic blasted 39 winners past the Russian and won 11/11 points when she came to the net. It was a complete performance by Mladenovic who served well and used the drop shot extremely well throughout the match. Mladenovic has always been capable of playing good tennis however we usually only see it in bursts throughout matches. Mladenovic’s victory over Makarova showed what she is capable of when she maintains a high level for an entire match.

When it comes to pathways to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, they don’t get much easier than Roberta Vinci’s pathway to the quarter-finals at this year’s U.S Open. However to the Italian’s credit she has done what she has needed to do, she could only beat the opponents that were in front of her. Vinci opened her account with a straight set victory over Vania King before coming from a set down to defeat Denisa Allertova. The Italian advanced to the fourth round with a hard-fought 6-1 5-7 6-2 victory over Duque-Marino. Vinci advanced to the quarter-finals courtesy of Eugenie Bouchard withdrawing from their fourth round encounter with concussion.

 

This will be the very first career meeting between Mladenovic and Vinci, making this match even more intriguing by adding to the unknown. Vinci is slightly more experienced at this level at major events, the Italian has already reached the quarter-finals in New York on two previous occasions. This may be the Frenchwoman’s first Grand Slam quarter-final, but she certainly has the game to really trouble Vinci.

I’m going to side with Mladenovic. The Frenchwoman has played some brilliant tennis on route to the quarter-finals whilst Vinci’s form hasn’t been convincing. This is a good match-up for Mladenovic who will be able to dictate the play with her superior serve and punishing groundstrokes. Nerves are likely to be a factor in this match, if Mladenovic can maintain composed she should eventually get the job done.

Prediction: Kristina Mladenovic to defeat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets

Petra Kvitova vs Johanna Konta, U.S Open R4 Preview

U.S Open R4: (5) Petra Kvitova vs (Q) Johanna Konta

After a disastrous start to the U.S Open Series, Petra Kvitova is now on a 7 match winning streak. Petra now has a wonderful opportunity to reach the quarter-finals at the U.S Open for the very first time on Monday night when she comes up against Johanna Konta on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Konta will be no pushover, the Brit is currently on a 16 match winning streak.

Petra Kvitova has breezed through her opening three matches without dropping a set. Kvitova recorded comfortable victories over Laura Siegemund and Nicole Gibbs to kick-start her week, the Czech’s most impressive performance came in the third round where she smashed an in from Anna Schmiedlova. Petra totally overpowered Schmiedlova to record a 6-2 6-1 victory, Petra blasted 29 winners past the Slovakian and committed just 18 unforced errors in an extremely clean performance.

 

Prior to this year’s U.S Open Johanna Konta only had 1 Grand Slam main draw victory under her belt, the Brit now finds herself in the fourth round in New York. Konta’s pathway to the fourth round hasn’t been easy, the Brit came through a tough qualifying draw before picking up upset victories over Garbine Mugruza and Andrea Petkovic. Konta’s 7-6 6-7 6-2 second round victory over Garbine Mugruza was particularly impressive, a gruelling victory in what ended up as the longest ladies singles match ever at the U.S Open.

This will be the first career meeting between Kvitova and Konta. This is a wonderful opportunity for Kvitova to reach the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows for the first time, Petra should be a class above Konta, Kvitova’s experience will also play a big factor in this one.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Johanna Konta in 2 sets