Sunday, 11 August 2013

WTA Toronto, ATP Montreal Finals Preview: S.Williams-Cirstea and Nadal-Raonic

1. Serena Williams v Sorana Cirstea (Toronto, F)
Sorana Cirstea
This week's memorable moments have all but exclusively featured Sorana Cirstea, who has played a fantastic week of tennis with wins over Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Petra Kvitova and Li Na.  Her semi-final victory over Li showed nerves of steel as she came back from 2-5 down in the second set and quickly forgot about the disappointment of being unable to convert on match points at 6-5.  It took a tiebreak and an incredibly nervy double fault from Li to seal a superb win that showed us a new side to Cirstea.  Li commented in her post-match conference that Cirstea played "different" and with the backing of Darren Cahill, perhaps this is a new Cirstea, who could start to impose herself in the upper echelons on the rankings.

Sunday will pose the ultimate test for Sorana as she takes on Serena Williams, who has had another great week on tour.  She did have her toughest match of the week last night as Agnieszka Radwanska put up a respectable fight before eventually falling, 7-6(3) 6-4.  Serena leads the head-to-head with two thumping straight set wins over Cirstea who managed just five games combined.  In this kind of form, I hope Cirstea can at least do herself justice because there is always the possibility that on the biggest occasion and this will be the biggest match of Cirstea's life, that things could be all over too quickly.  However I think having watched Cirstea round by round, she has done wonders this week with a big smile on her face and I think she will finish it on a high.

Prediction - S.Williams to beat Cirstea in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

2. Rafael Nadal v Milos Raonic (Montreal, F)
Milos Raonic
Hard courts were widely seen as Rafael Nadal's biggest challenge on his return from injury to the tour because of the grind on his knees, but the Spaniard has yet to lose a match on this surface in 2013.  He continued his dominance over Novak Djokovic as he edged out the world number one in the semi-finals in a third set tiebreak win, 6-2 3-6 7-6(2).  Nadal now takes on a first time Masters 1000 finalist in Milos Raonic, who defeated his fellow compatriot, Vasek Pospisil in another semi-final decided by a third set tiebreak.

Raonic will now break the top 10 and personally I think his ranking is heavily inflated above his level of play.  Granted, he has had a good week, but I think he benefited from a tiring Juan Martin del Potro in the third round and showed his experience in edging out Ernest Gulbis and Vasek Pospisil, both players you would not normally expect to see in the depths of a Masters 1000 draw.  Raonic will be cheered on by the crowd, but Nadal has beaten Raonic on three previous occasions and I think he will add the Montreal title to his remarkable 2013 season.

Prediction - Nadal to beat Raonic in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

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