2017 WTA Rogers Cup Preview, Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The North American hard court swing is now in full effect as the tour heads to Canada for the Toronto Premier event. Here is a rundown of the draw for the upcoming tournament.
Karolina Pliskova is back in action as the number one player in the world, and she will be aiming to seal that ranking with another Premier title. The Czech has a first round bye and will face either Alize Cornet or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round. Anastasija Sevastova is projected for round three, and the Latvian has a good draw with Lauren Davis first followed by the winner of an all-qualifier match. Sevastova has a winning record against Pliskova, so that could be an interesting third round match-up.
Caroline Wozniacki’s stellar year has seen her re-enter the top ten, but the Dane has yet to clinch a title in 2017. Can she go all the way in Toronto? After an opening round bye, the sixth seed will face a qualifier in round two. Agnieszka Radwanska is projected for round three, but the Pole has struggled this season with nagging injuries and could face an early exit to Coco Vandeweghe. It looks likely that the American will be Wozniacki’s third round opponent.
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Angelique Kerber’s defense of her number one ranking did not go as planned, and with the US Open title defense looming, the German needs form and needs it fast. The third seed could open against Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in the second round, which could be a tough match-up. Petra Kvitova is the seeded player in her section and we could see an all-lefty battle in the third round. The Czech faces Carla Suarez Navarro first though, then either Sloane Stephens or Yulia Putintseva.
Johanna Konta is in search of her second Premier title of the year, but she has a difficult draw ahead of her. The Brit faces either Ekaterina Makarova or Shuai Peng first, with Dominika Cibulkova the first seeded player in her section. The Slovakian opens her tournament against Lesia Tsurenko before facing Lucie Safarova or Francois Abanda. Cibulkova and Konta have met twice before and each share a straight sets victory.
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Elina Svitolina continues her quest to finish the year as the world number one, and winning the Toronto title would go a long way to achieving that goal. The Ukrainian faces either Daria Kasatkina or Roberta Vinci. Venus Williams is projected for round three, and this is one of the more anticipated round three matches in the draw. The American has a decent draw to the third round with Katerina Siniakova being the toughest possible opponent.
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza has looked in decent form since winning the SW19 title, a contrast to the pressure she felt after winning the French Open last year. The Spaniard could rematch Ana Konjuh, who she beat in Stanford in the second round. Elena Vesnina is projected for the third round, but the Russian could have a difficult time with Alison Riske and Oceane Dodin. It is overall a good draw for Muguruza and she should make the last eight.
Simona Halep is also battling for the right to be called the world number one, but after retiring in Washington, is the Romanian at full fitness for Toronto? The second seed has a tough opener against a big hitter in either Madison Keys or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Kristina Mladenovic is the third round seeded opponent, but the Frenchwoman’s early season form has halted with a back problem. Therefore she could struggle to get past Barbora Strycova in the first round. Daria Gavriova will likely await the winner.
Svetlana Kuznetsova will stand as a dark horse for the title like she is in most tournaments, but the Russian has some tough players in her draw. Julia Goerges and Cici Bellis both showed good form last week and could be a tough second round for the eighth seed. Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko has landed in this section, and whilst a qualifier in round one should not be much trouble, Caroline Garcia in round two will be a stern test for the 12th seed.
Pliskova def. Wozniacki
Konta def. Kerber
Svitolina def. Muguruza
Halep def. Kuznetsova
Pliskova def. Konta
Svitolina def. Halep
Pliskova def. Svitolina
I am backing the world number one to lift the Rogers Cup, but it is not a confident prediction. The draw is stacked and very well balanced, meaning there are many feasible winners of the tournament.