Ubha: Montréal Expert Predictions
Published August 03, 2014 12:13
MONTRÉAL, Canada - Friday's match between Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic at the Bank Of The West Classic turned into one of the most riveting contests of the year, with an absorbed, yet passionate, crowd - the majority backing Williams - making for an indelible atmosphere.
Guess who 'Genie' could face in the quarterfinals?
We'll let you know by breaking down the draw.
First Quarter: A Blockbuster In The Making
It's the match everyone wants to see, and no doubt would be played under the lights if it materializes: Williams vs. Bouchard in the quarterfinals.
Would anyone have predicted at the start of the year that Bouchard would make a Grand Slam final and two other Grand Slam semifinals - while 17-time major champion Williams wouldn't get past the fourth round at a Slam? Unlikely.
Bouchard's backers will be hoping her withdrawal from Washington, citing a knee injury, was simply a precaution ahead of what's sure to be one of her most important weeks of the season: Her family home is about a 15-minute drive from the tournament grounds.
Given the stacked field, both players strolling to the last eight isn't a foregone conclusion, however.
Williams could face Sam Stosur (on the receiving end of Naomi Osaka's magic in Stanford but who possesses a very respectable 3-4 record against Serena in their last seven head-to-heads) and Wimbledon semifinalist Lucie Safarova before then. Bouchard might tangle with Serena's pal and the 2010 titlist in Montréal, a resurgent Caroline Wozniacki, in the third round.
Note that Williams has never won the Rogers Cup when it's been held in Québec. Time for that to change?
Second Quarter: The Rematch?
A poor clay court season behind her - getting thumped by Bouchard at the French Open had to be the low point - Angelique Kerber gathered momentum at Eastbourne and subsequently upset Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon.
The match spoke of Kerber's progress - but also served as a reminder of Sharapova's grit. Kerber, who continued her fine form in Stanford, needed seven match points to dispose of the Russian, who was perhaps slightly jaded following her exertions at Roland Garros.
Kerber and Sharapova will, if things go according to the seedings, face off once again in the Montréal quarterfinals.
Sharapova potentially gets a tough first opponent in Garbiñe Muguruza - the 20-year-old severely tested Sharapova in Paris. It was one of those good and bad weeks for Muguruza in Stanford, advancing to the quarterfinals but then exiting in under an hour to Kerber.
Third Quarter: Is This Where Vika Makes A Splash?
Early in her comeback from a foot injury, the goal for two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka had to have been this: Don't suffer a recurrence.
She got through Wimbledon unscathed and appeared to do the same in Stanford, where rust surfaced in her second round loss to Venus Williams (as Williams acknowledged). Serving to stay in the opening set, for example, Azarenka struck back-to-back double faults and Venus later broke in the game.
She hasn't been used to competing in those pressure moments in 2014.
Now, Azarenka will presumably be expecting a deeper run.
Azarenka - outside the Top 10 come Monday's rankings - figures to be stretched, though, if she's to land in the semifinals.
She potentially plays the resilient Alizé Cornet after a bye and could play Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova in the third round. Although Cibulkova is slumping, the Slovak has given Azarenka a tough time in all of their matches since 2008, prevailing twice.
Kvitova, like Bouchard, didn't play last week after pulling out of the Bank Of The West Classic with a lingering hamstring injury but told reporters in Montréal at the draw ceremony she was "100 percent."
The nature of her victory over Bouchard in the Wimbledon final surely raised the expectations of fans, despite the Czech's up-and-down fortunes during this part of the season (mostly down).
In the third round, Andrea Petkovic - into the semifinals in Stanford - might be waiting and the popular German has won four of her last five matches versus Kvitova.
In short, the path to the quarterfinals for Kvitova - the 2012 winner in Montréal - is tricky.
Ivanovic and fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic are on course for a third round clash but the former needed treatment for a right hip injury against Serena Williams and thus who knows how her body will hold up.