Rogers Cup 2012: Women’s draw preview and analysis
August 6, 2012 · Print This Article
The first major US Open Series event for the ladies of the WTA could provide us with a glimpse of how the mayhem in New York will unfold later this summer.
With no Serena Williams present at this year’s Rogers Cup, the rest of the WTA faithful can breathe a sigh of relief and hopefully build some much-needed momentum.
Last year’s finalist and US Open winner Sam Stosur will be keen on starting her hard-court campaign in style; the grass-season including the Olympics weren’t that kind to the competitive Aussie. For Stosur to hold onto her top five ranking, she’ll have to equal or come close to her result in Toronto last year. I’ve always enjoyed the professionalism that Stosur embodies on court, but to her backhand remains a noticeable liability against the world’s best.
Agi Radwanska has been able to make some headway this year, but her recent first-round loss at the Olympics proved that even though she’s No. 2 in the world, she’s still susceptible to early defeats. With that being said, Radwanska remains one of the most thoughtful players on Tour, and her uncanny ability to play her eclectic style in today’s power era is impressive.
Victoria Azarenka’s footwork friendly game will be happy to be back on the squeaky asphalt. The Belarusian won a stellar four tournaments to begin the year, and even though she’s cooled off since, her No. 1 ranking and proficiency on hard-courts will likely take her to more glory this summer.
The Montreal fans would love nothing more than to cheer on one of their own to the title. This year’s Canadian representation will include Eugenie Bouchard, Stéphanie Dubois and Aleksandra Wozniak. Of the three, I’d watch out for Bouchard, who recently won the Wimbledon junior title.
A Tuesday start and the hangover of the Olympics Games will likely produce its share of upsets this week, but there’s simply too much on the line with the US Open less than three weeks away for any player to produce anything short of their best.
Let’s now quickly dive into the top and bottom halves of the draw.
Reaching the semis in 2011, Azarenka is the kind of player that’s never satisfied with previous results. Her draw does look challenging at first glance, but I’d like to think that she’s ready to regain her hard-court glory from earlier this year. Beginning against a very tough Julia Goerges, Vika could face another German in Sabine Lisicki in round three, before Kvitova or Bartoli could cross her path in the quarters.
Bartoli did snap Azarenka’s winning streak in Miami, but the mechanical baseliner has struggled as of late—apart from a finals showing in Carlsbad.
Coming in off of a beat-down to Serena in London, Sharapova will look to put her grass season behind her and focus on building steam for a second major in New York.
Sharapova has a relatively easy quarter featuring Jankovic, Cibulkova and Woznicaki, and if she’s playing anywhere near her best, she should pull through comfortably. Sharapova has always been great at refocusing on the task at hand, and I’d expect nothing less from the Russian in Montreal.
With that being said, I’ll have to stay with the top two seeds in this half to survive, simply because they’re great at rebounding from difficult situations.
Picks: Azarenka, Sharapova
Another final four member in the Toronto edition, Radwanska proved in Miami that the deco turf suits her game just fine. Looking to put the disappointment of the Games behind her, Radwanska will start off against Mona Barthel or a qualifier, before the likes of Pennetta, Errani or Li Na could become a factor.
With Errani and Pennetta favoring clay over anything else, Li Na becomes Radwanska’s true test in reaching the semis.
Moving onto the top part of this half, how can you bet against Angelique Kerber in doing some damage? The feisty German has compiled a 48-14 record this year, and her two titles alongside a semifinal showing at Wimbledon proved that her stock continues to rise.
Other players to look for in this quarter include Ivanovic, Safarova and Stosur, but I’ll stay with the left-hander from Berlin to reach the final four.
Picks: Radwanska, Kerber
Champion: Kerber d Azarenka