Sunday, 4 August 2013

WTA Toronto: Preview and Predictions

The women are in Toronto this week with Maria Sharapova the one noteworthy withdrawal.  Let's take a look at this week's draw.

*Now updated with qualifiers and Victoria Azarenka's withdrawal*

FIRST PROJECTED QUARTER - S.Williams (1) v M.Bartoli (7)
Marion Bartoli
Serena Williams heads up this week's draw and will play for the first time since her rather peculiar venture to Sweden where she finished her clay court season unbeaten in Bastad.  Back to the American hard courts, she will still be the heavy favourite to win the US Open despite a surprising 4th round exit to Sabine Lisicki at Wimbledon.  First up in Canada will be either Francesca Schiavone or Chanelle Scheepers.  It is possible Serena could face her sister, Venus in the third round although she will have to get past the number 13 seed and Wimbledon semi-finalist, Kirsten Flipkens in the first round.  Both have endured injury lay-offs although Venus's has been significantly longer as she has not played a competitive match since the French Open where her serve was incredibly laboured due to a persistent back injury.

A beaming, Marion Bartoli will return to action this week in her first tournament since winning Wimbledon.  Her first match will be against Svetlana Kuznetsova or Lauren Davis, who just played each other in qualifying, which saw Davis win in a 3 setter lasting 2 hours and 49 minutes  It will be particularly intriguing to see how she performs as a Grand Slam champion, but I think she has what it takes to reach the quarter-finals this week.  Bartoli was projected to meet Caroline Wozniacki in the third round, but with the draw reshuffle her toughest test in the third round is likely to come from either Varvara Lepchenko or Magdalena Rybarikova.  Rybarikova is a very dangerous customer with her tricks and slices and she just won the title in Washington.  However she is known to be an inconsistent player who fails to produce her best tennis week in, week out so I cannot see her making it past the second round.

1st Round Predictions: Schiavone to beat Scheepers in 2 tight sets, Riske to beat Bertens in 2 sets, Flipkens to beat V.Williams in 2 tight sets and Kuznetsova to beat Davis in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: S.Williams v Bartoli

SECOND PROJECTED QUARTER - A.Radwanska (3) v S.Errani (5)
Sara Errani
Agnieszka Radwanska has made a final and quarter-final so far in the US Open 2013 Series, but there is a distinct feeling that when her opponent plays some solid and aggressive tennis, she is very likely to come out second best.  The Toronto draw looks dangerous as she will face Yanina Wickmayer or Laura Robson in the second round.  Laura beat Aga when they met for the first time in Madrid and I think she could do it again in Canada.  

Sloane Stephens is also in this section, which is dominated by some of the new talent on tour as she faces Kristina Mladenovic in the first round and could meet Mona Barthel in round two.  I have been disappointed with Sloane's attitude of late, particularly away from the Grand Slams and do believe she has got lucky with some of her draws.  I really like Mladenovic's game and demeanour on court, and think she has a shot at causing the upset although I am going for Sloane to overcome an early exit in D.C.

Sara Errani played a whopping amount of tennis through the first six months so I was glad to see her take a pretty lengthy break around a finals appearance in Palermo.  Her first match will be against either Klara Zakopalova or Lucie Safarova.  Her draw looks very reasonable as the highest seed she could face before the quarter-finals is Maria Kirilenko, who she has beaten in five of their six last encounters.

1st Round Predictions: Robson to beat Wickmayer in 2 tight sets, Barthel to beat Zheng in 2 sets, Stephens to beat Mladenovic in 3 tough sets, Cornet to beat Vesnina in 3 sets and Zakopalova to beat Safarova in 2 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction: Robson v Errani

THIRD PROJECTED QUARTER - A.Kerber (8) v Li Na (4)
Li Na
Maria Sharapova's withdrawal has bumped Li Na up to the number four seed in Canada.  This will be her first outing since a solid grass court season, which saw her make the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.  Her first match will be against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Carol Zhao; the Russian player had a disastrous Wimbledon winning just one game against the grass-court GOAT, Tsvetana Pironkova and I have no idea how she is going to get on this week.  Li could meet Ana Ivanovic in the third round; the pair have shockingly met only once on tour back in 2006 when Ivanovic retired after the first set.  Ivanovic will be wary of potentially meeting Urszula Radwanska in the second round, who she has lost too twice in the past year.

Angelique Kerber continues to struggle in 2013 as she was beaten out by an in-form, Magdalena Rybarikova in D.C.  Much like Radwanska, I think she can beat the majority of players on tour, but a defensive game style means she often gets outhit against the more powerful or inventive players.  Toronto has offered up a very tough draw with Dominika Cibulkova, Ekaterina Makarova and Roberta Vinci all in her section and players that have beaten her this year.  For that reason, I think she is going to be an early casualty.  To predict the player to come through this section and into the quarter-finals is a bit of a lottery, but I would back Vinci.

1st Round Predictions: Cibulkova to beat Cepelova in 2 tight sets, Vinci to beat Goerges in 2 sets, Ivanovic to beat Hsieh in 2 sets, U.Radwanska to beat Pennetta in 2 sets and Pavlyuchenkova to beat Zhou in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Vinci v Li

FOURTH PROJECTED QUARTER - P.Kvitova (6) v C.Wozniacki (9)
Alisa Kleybanova
The big talking point in this, the toughest of the four quarters, is the return of Alisa Kleybanova.  Kleybanova was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a form of cancer in 2011.  She made a brief return to the tour last year in Miami where she scored an impressive first round win over Johanna Larsson, but decided she was not fully ready to return to the tour.  She has been working hard in ITF tournaments and the World Team Tennis event in the US this summer.  I am delighted to see her back because before she went away from the tour, she was one of my favourite players to watch.  Her first match will be against the young Canadian, Eugenie Bouchard, therefore bagging a big show court for her return.  The winner of that match will play Kvitova in the second round.

Sam Stosur has had a really great week in Carlsbad, beating an off-key Azarenka to the title, but will be sure to have a tough start in Canada as she plays the winner of a first round match between Jamie Hampton and Carla Suarez Navarro.  The only ever time they have played before was an absolute epic in Miami, which Suarez prevailed in 2 hours and 43 minutes.  This time round, I think Hampton will gain some revenge.  Caroline Wozniacki bookends the draw after Victoria Azarenka pulled out after losing the Carlsbad final.  She  will take on Sorana Cirstea or Olga Savchuk in the second round.  Wozniacki has beaten Cirstea this year, but if they did meet in round two then it would be a very tough match for both.  She is due to meet Jelena Jankovic in the third round, who has a nice draw with Anna Tatishvili in the first round and a Canadian wildcard in round two.  Jankovic has a terrible recent record against Wozniacki, but their form has reversed since they last played so JJ may stand a chance if they meet in Toronto.

1st Round Predictions: Bouchard to beat Kleybanova in 3 sets, Hampton to beat Suarez Navarro in 2 tight sets, Jankovic to beat Tatishvili in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy) and Dubois to beat Fichman in 3 sets

Moo's Quarter-Final Prediction - Kvitova v Jankovic

Moo's Final Prediction - S.Williams d. Li Na

With Azarenka's withdrawal, I fancy Li Na to progress through to her second consecutive Rogers Cup final.

You can view my full predictions for Toronto 2013 HERE

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