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 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
New Haven QF #1: (LL) Lesia Tsurenko vs (5) Karolina Pliskova
Karolina Pliskova has quietly advanced to the quarter-finals in New Haven, Karolina will start as the warm favourite for the third time this week when she comes up against Lesia Tsurenko in the first quarter-final on Friday at the Connecticut Open.
The draw has really opened up nicely for Karolina this week in New Haven. The Czech started her campaign with a sluggish performance against Polona Hercog, eventually prevailing from a set and a break down. Karolina Pliskova advanced to her 7th premier level quarter-final of the year with a commanding 6-4 6-1 victory over Olga Savchuk. Karolina is one of two ladies who can overtake Serena Williams this week and finish first in the Emirates U.S Open Series bonus challenge.
Lesia Tsurenko stumbled in the final round of qualifying in New Haven, smashed by Yulia Putintseva 6-0 6-1. However the Ukrainian was awarded a lucky-loser position in the main draw courtesy of Simona Halep’s late withdrawal. Tsurenko received a bye through to the second round where she comfortably disposed of Barbora Strycova in a surprisingly straightforward 6-3 6-0 victory.
This will the first meeting between the pair at the tour level. The two have met a couple of times in the past, Pliskova holds a 2-1 head to head record with their last meeting taking place back in 2012. Normally, Pliskova would have the clear advantage in this one, however it is unclear how motivated she will be to win this match, her main priority is to be ready for the U.S Open. Nevertheless I still think Karolina will be good enough to come through this one, even if she is in second gear.
Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Lesia Tsurenko in 2 sets
New Haven R2: (3) Caroline Wozniacki vs (Q) Roberta Vinci
Caroline Wozniacki’s quest for a second title of 2015 continues on Wednesday when she comes up against Roberta Vinci in the second round at the Connecticut Open in New Haven. Wozniacki arrived in Connecticut on the back of three consecutive first up exits during the U.S Open series, the Dane will be looking to pick a couple of victories this week to gain some much needed momentum ahead of the U.S Open next week (where she has finalist points to defend).
Wozniacki made an extremely promising start in Connecticut on Tuesday evening, picking up her first victory of the U.S Open series with a 6-0 6-2 thrashing of Alison Riske. Wozniacki dropped just 4 points in the opening set, totally smothering Riske. The second set was a little more competitive but Wozniacki was always in total control. A step In the right direction for Wozniacki after a disappointing couple of weeks.
Roberta Vinci breezed through the qualifying draw in New Haven without dropping a set. The Italian took her winning form into the first round where she embarrassed Eugenie Bouchard with a devastating 6-1 6-0 victory. Vinci effectively mixed up the rallies and was very successful at the net. Vinci will need more success at the net if she wants to defeat Caroline Wozniacki on Wednesday.
The head to head record between Caroline and Roberta is slip at 2 wins each. Wozniacki has a 2-1 advantage on hard courts and thumped the Italian 6-1 6-1 in the final of the Istanbul Cup last year in what was their most recent encounter.
The Italian has the better form heading into this match but I still have to side with Wozniacki. This is an important match for the Dane and I believe she will knuckle down and put in another strong performance against an opponent she should match up well against.
Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Roberta Vinci in 3 sets
New Haven R2: (5) Karolina Pliskova vs (Q) Olga Savchuk
Karolina Pliskova and Olga Savchuk kick-start proceedings on Wednesday at the Connecticut Open. The draw has really opened up for Pliskova this week after the withdrawal of Simona Halep, a meeting with Lesia Tsurenko awaits the winner of this match in the quarter-finals. Pliskova couldn’t ask for an easier passage into the semi-finals of a premier event.
Karolina Pliksova made a strong start to her U.S Open series campaign, making the final in Stanford before succumbing to Angelique Kerber in a tight final. However Pliskova suffered disappointing early exits in Toronto and Cincinnati. The manner in which Pliskova lost those matches was concerning, giving up a significant lead on both occasions (losing to Lucic-Baroni in Toronto and Jankovic in Cincinnati).
Pliskova made a sluggish start to her Connecticut campaign on Monday night, finding herself a set and break down against Polona Hercog. Pliskova was somehow able to grind out a victory, emerging victorious 2-6 7-6 6-2. It’s not too important for Pliskova to win a lot of matches this week, the U.S Open will be her number 1 priory. Pliskova went on deep runs before the Australian Open and Wimbledon and looked a little burnt out mid-way through the Grand Slams.
Olga Savchuk’s run to the second round in New Haven has been the Ukrainian’s best result of the season. Olga reached the main draw through the qualies and advanced to the second round courtesy of Olga Govortsova retiring late in the third set of their opening round match.
In their only previous encounter Karolina Pliskova smashed Olga Savchuk 6-1 6-2 in Montreal last year. This is a very good draw for Pliskova, as easy as it comes in the second round of a premier event. Pliskova may not be too desperate to win the title this week and her mind may be elsewhere but she will certainly be good enough to come through this match, even if she is in second gear.
Prediction: Karolina Pliksova to defeat Olga Savchuk in 2 sets
An intriguing second round clash at the Connecticut Open sees defending champion Petra Kvitova take on Madison Keys. Petra Kvitova hasn’t won a match during the U.S Open series and will be extremely desperate to pick up a couple of victories this week before heading to New York for the final Grand Slam of the year.
Petra Kvitova’s preparation for the U.S Open has been far from ideal, suffering first round exits in Toronto and Cincinnati. Petra was defeated by Victoria Azarenka in straight sets in Toronto before suffering a three set loss to Caroline Garcia last week. The good news for Petra is that she often plays some of her best tennis in New Haven, winning the title twice in the last three years. Petra will need to win at least a couple of matches in New Haven, otherwise it is hard to see Petra causing much damage in New York next week.
Madison Keys’ preparation for the U.S Open has also been far from idea, the American will also be keen to pick up a couple of victories in New Haven. Madison made impressive starts in Stanford and Cincinnati but stumbled in the second round at both events. Madison was distraught after her loss to Jankovic last week in Cincinnati, a sad day for the American. Keys advanced to the second round in New Haven courtesy of Elina Svitolina retiring injured during the second set of their first round match. Keys was up 7-6 4-2 and well on her way to victory before Svitolina was forced to retire.
The head to head record between Petra and Madison is split at one win apiece. Kvitova convincingly defeated Keys 6-2 6-2 in Tokyo in 2013, Keys avenged that loss with a stirring 6-4 7-5 victory in the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year. Keys was able to dictate play in that match, a real rarity against Kvitova.
These are two of the most inconsistent players on tour, making this match difficult to predict. However Keys seems to have the edge heading into this one, the American has shown glimpses of brilliance over the last couple of weeks whilst Kvitova is a shadow of her former self. Madison’s victory over Petra in Melbourne earlier this year will give her the added confidence she needs heading into this match.
Prediction: Madison Keys to defeat Petra Kvitova in 3 sets
New Haven R2: (7) (wc) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Alize Cornet
Agnieszka Radwanska and Alize Cornet always seem to land in the same section of the draw! The two will go head to head for the fifth time in the last year and a half when they meet in the second round of the Connecticut Open on Wednesday. Both ladies have had some disappointing results over the last couple of weeks and will therefore be desperate to pick up a few more victories in New Haven before heading off to New York for the Grand Slam of the year.
Agnieszka Radwanska made a very positive start to her Connecticut Open campaign on Monday, putting a shock first up loss to Anna Schmiedlova in Cincinnati last week behind her. The Pole breezed through the first round, picking up a comfortable 6-0 6-2 victory over CoCo Vandeweghe. Radwanska did extremely well to win so easily against a potentially dangerous opponent on paper. Aga was at her consistent best, frustrating Vandeweghe into error after error. Radwanska was in control from to finish, a mature performance.
Alize Cornet’s recent form has generally been quite disappointing. Cornet suffered early round exits in Washington and Cincinnati but did pick up solid victories over Carla Suarez Navarro and Dominika Cibulkova in Toronto on route to the third round (before being defeated by Radwanska). Alize advanced to the second round in Connecticut with a 2-6 6-0 6-2 victory over Yulia Putintseva on Monday, a good win considering Putintseva was full of momentum after flying through the qualifying draw.
Radwanska holds a 5-1 head to head record over Alize, however Aga never finds it easy against Cornet. The two have met on three occasions this year, Cornet won a gruelling three set encounter at the Hopman at the start of the year. Radwanska avenged that loss with a relatively straightforward win in Sydney and won their most recent encounter just a couple of weeks ago in Toronto, a 6-2 4-6 6-4 victory.
This should be another really close match between Aga and Alize, both will desperate to win this one in order to gain some much needed confidence ahead of the U.S Open. This could go either way but I have to give Aga the slight edge because of the head to head record and because she is generally more consistent and reliable throughout matches.
Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Alize Cornet in 3 sets
New Haven R1: (7) Agnieszka Radwanska vs CoCo Vandeweghe
Agnieszka Radwanska is one of several top 10 players to take a late wild card into this year’s Connecticut Open in New Haven. The Pole will be looking to get a few more quality matches under her belt before heading to Flushing Meadows for the final Grand Slam of the year. Radwanska comes up against CoCo Vandeweghe in the opening round on Monday night, a potentially dangerous first up opponent for the Pole.
Radwanska made a reasonable start to her U.S Open series but arrives in Connecticut fresh off a horror first round loss in Cincinnati. Aga reached the quarter-final stage in Stanford and Toronto, playing decent tennis before succumbing to quality opponents (Kerber and Halep). Radwanska suffered yet another humiliating loss last week in Cincinnati, defeated by Anna Schmiedlova 6-4 3-6 1-6 loss. The manner in which Aga lost was concerning, she didn’t offer much resistance in the final set and let Schmiedlova totally dictate the play. The Pole will be desperate to put that loss behind her and pick up some confidence boosting wins in Connecticut, she will be determined to avoid another first up loss.
CoCo Vandeweghe’s recent form has been poor. The American has picked up just one victory during the U.S Open Series, suffering first round defeats in Washington and Toronto. CoCo’s only victory was in Cincinnati last week where she defeated Yulia Putintseva in the first round. Vandeweghe will see this match as a real opportunity to gain some momentum, the American knows she has weapons that can challenge Radwanska.
In their only previous encounter, Radwanska defeated Vandeweghe 6-4 6-3 in Beijing last year. The contrast in styles couldn’t be greater between these two, which always makes for an interesting match. Vandeweghe does have the power to hurt Radwanska, however I doubt she is patient enough to win this one. Radwanska is smart enough to find a way to defeat Vandeweghe, mixing up her play and moving Vandeweghe around the court will be enough. Aga needs to win this one.
Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat CoCo Vandeweghe in 2 sets
New Haven R1: Eugenie Bouchard vs (Q) Roberta Vinci
Eugenie Bouchard arrives in New Haven desperate to pick up a couple of victories ahead of next week’s final Grand Slam of the year in New York. Bouchard has threatened to reverse her horror 2015 form over the last couple of weeks but has ultimately fallen short. The Canadian will begin her New Haven campaign on Monday when she takes on Roberta Vinci, the Italian qualifier.
Eugenie Bouchard has just one victory to her name during the U.S Open series. The Canadian suffered yet another first round exit at the Rogers Cup, losing to the eventual champion Belinda Bencic in three sets. There were some positive signs in that match, but Genie couldn’t sustain a high level for long enough. Bouchard also showed glimpses of better form in Cincinnati where she reached the second round courtesy of a 7-6 7-6 victory over Kateryna Bondarenko. Bouchard was unable to advance any further, defeated by Elina Svitolina 6-7 5-7. Bouchard had a set point in the opening set but was unable to convert and seemed to lose confidence in the second set.
Roberta Vinci’s form is much more promising, the Italian came through qualifying in Toronto to reach the quarter-finals and has also come through qualifying in New Haven. Vinci came through all of her qualifying matches in straight sets, the Italian will therefore be quite used to the conditions in New Haven and will be confident heading into this one.
This will be the first career meeting between Bouchard and Vinci. I suspect Bouchard is very close to achieving some better results, perhaps starting this week in New Haven. If Bouchard remains patient she should be able to hit past Vinci on Monday and start to build some momentum ahead of New York.
Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard to defeat Roberta Vinci in 2 sets
Cincinnati Final: (1) Serena Williams vs (3) Simona Halep
We are left with a blockbuster final at the 2015 Western & Southern Open. The current world number 1 and defending champion Serena Williams will take on the soon to be world number 2 Simona Halep. It could be argued that Simona is currently Serena’s biggest threat on the tour, it will be interesting to see how far the Romanian can push Serena on Sunday.
Serena Williams cruised through her opening two matches in Cincinnati, picking up routine straight set victories over Tsvetana Pironkova and Karin Knapp. However the American was far less convincing in her victory over Ana Ivanovic in the quarter-finals, making a sluggish start before eventually coming back to win from a set and a break down. Serena made another slow start in her semi-final victory over Elina Svitolina, the American eventually fought her way to a 6-4 6-3 victory. Serena will be looking for a much more consistent performance in the final.
Simona Halep has defied the critics this week to reach her fifth final of the year. The Romanian was forced to retire in the final of the Rogers Cup last week and arrived in Cincinnati with question marks surrounding her fitness. The Romanian has shown incredible resistance this week, picking up hard fought victories over Kristina Mladenovic, Andrea Petkovic and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Simona secured the number 2 ranking and moved into the final with a commanding 6-1 6-2 thumping of Jelena Jankovic on Saturday night. Simona was far too powerful and disciplined for a hapless Jankovic.
Serena and Simona have built up an exciting rivalry over the past year. Simona famously smashed Serena 6-0 6-2 in Singapore last year, the Romanian’s first and only victory over Williams. Since then Serena has won their only two encounters, including an extremely hard fought 6-2 4-6 7-5 victory in Miami earlier this year. Serena holds an overall 5-1 head to head advantage over Simona.
Serena will be wary of the threats Simona possess and will still be looking to punish Simona for embarrassing her in Singapore last year. In Serena’s last match before the U.S Open I expect the American to be very fired up and determined to win yet another title. Serena is almost unbeatable in finals and should too strong for a tiring Halep.
Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Simona Halep in 2 sets
Cincinnati: SF #2: (3) Simona Halep vs Jelena Jankovic
Simona Halep and Jelena Jankovic will renew hostilities on Saturday evening when they do head to head in the second semi-final of the 2015 Western & Southern Open. These two have built up a bit of a rivalry over the past year, playing out a couple of tense encounters.
Simona Halep has fought extremely hard this week to reach the final four. The Romanian arrived in Cincinnati with question marks surrounding her fitness after she was forced to retire during her final with Belinda Bencic last week at the Rogers Cup. Halep admitted that she was exhausted after some gruelling matches in Toronto but has somehow regrouped to come through three tough matches in Cincinnati.
Simona scraped through her opening round match, picking up her first victory over Kristina Mladenovic with a hard fought 7-5 5-7 6-4 victory. The world number three came from a set down to defeat Andrea Petkovic in the second round before fighting past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-2 to set up a semi-final clash with Jelena Jankovic. Halep has regained her fighting spirit over the past couple of weeks and looks to be back to her very best. Simona is now one win away from moving back up to number 2 in the rankings.
Jelena Jankovic’s love affair with the Western & Southern Open has continued in 2015. The former champion seems to save her best tennis for Cincinnati. Jankovic has defeated three rising stars in a row to reach the final, recording victories over Madison Keys, Karolina Pliskova and Anna Schmiedlova. Jankovic is playing some of her best tennis of the year, she will need to overcome a poor recent record against Halep if she is to progress to her third final in Cincinnati.
Simona Halep holds a 5-1 head to head record over Jankovic and has won the last 5 encounters between the pair. Despite the lopsided head to head record, the majority of the matches between these two have been very tight. The two met earlier this year in the final at Indian Wells, Jankovic failed to serve out the match before succumbing in a tight third set. Halep defeated Jankovic last week in Toronto, a relatively comfortable 6-3 6-4 triumph.
Halep has played a lot of tennis in the last couple of weeks, it’s going to be very difficult for the Romanian to find the energy to keep going in Cincinnati. Jankovic is playing with a lot of confidence this week and will come into this match the fresher of the two. Jelena has a wonderful record in Cincinnati and will be desperate to pick up a rare victory over the Romanian. This is going to be a very physical match, I like Jelena’s chances in this one.
Prediction: Jelena Jankovic to defeat Simona Halep in 3 sets