2017 WTA Western & Southern Open Preview and Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The tour heads south of the Canadian border to Cincinnati for the second Premier event in two weeks. Here is a rundown of the draw for the Western and Southern open.
Karolina Pliskova returns to Cincinnati to not only defend her title, but also her number one ranking. The Czech receives an opening round BYE before playing a qualifier in the second round. Kristina Mladenovic is the first seeded player in her section, but the Frenchwoman has struggled with injury lately and could face an early exit to either Daria Gavrilova or Katerina Siniakova.
Caroline Wozniacki heads into Cincy in fine form after her Rogers cup run last week, but going deep in back to back tournaments can be tough. Elena Vesnina or Caroline Garcia will welcome the Dane to Ohio in a difficult second round either way. Venus Williams is also in this section and will no doubt be the home favourite for the tournament.
Garbine Muguruza has found a little more consistency since winning Wimbledon, but she has yet to go all the way in a tournament in North America. The Spaniard could face America’s Lauren Davis first in the second round in a section full of home crowd favourites. Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe will meet in round one with the winner likely facing Daria Kasatkina. This is most definitely a stacked section.
Svetlana Kuznetsova had a disappointing Toronto campaign and will look to bounce back in Cincinnati in the upcoming week. The Russian could face Yulia Putintseva in round two then Jelena Ostapenko in the third round. Maria Sharapova was originally drawn to face the Latvian In round one, but the former world number one withdrew from the tournament.
Elina Svitolina’s fine year continued in Toronto and the Ukrainian heads into Cincinnati as one of the title favourites. She will have a tough second round opponent in the form of Lesia Tsurenko or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova before potentially meeting Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round. The Pole has a difficult opener against Julia Goerges who has resurged this season though and could face an early exit.
Angelique Kerber’s poor season ahs left her outside of the top 10 in the race to Singapore, and with her US Open title defence incoming, she needs to find form and fast. The German faces either Ekaterina Makarova or Barbora Strycova in the second round, both present different but equally difficult challenges. Petra Kvitova’s comeback continues in Cincy where she will face the young and rising Anette Kontaveit In round one. The winner will face either Sloane Stephens or Lucie Safarova in the second round, a rematch of their Toronto quarter final.
Simona Halep is battling for the world number one ranking this week and is coming in off an overall positive week in Toronto that ended in disappointment. The Romanian has a good draw however with a qualifier in round two then Anastasija Sevastova in round three. The Latvian herself opens against Shuai Peng before meeting the winner of Timea Babos vs Roberta Vinci.
Johanna Konta lost at the first hurdle in Toronto so will be hoping for a more positive week south of the Canadian border. The Brit faces either big hitting Oceane Dodin or Kiki Bertens first in the second round before being projected to face Dominika Cibulkova in round three. The Slovakian has a tough draw however with young players such as Ana Konjuh and Cici Bellis in her section.
Pliskova def. Wozniacki
Keys def. Kuznetsova
Svitolina def. Kontaveit
Halep def. Konta
Pliskova def. Keys
Halep def. Svitolina
Pliskova def. Halep
It is interesting to see where this tournament goes as there are so many possibilities, so it may come as a surprise that I have predicted the top seed to defeat the second seed in the final. The faster courts here suit Pliskova and I expect the two finalists from last week to have some mental and physical fatigue here, so their performances will not be as strong.