Bell Challenge Preview
September 10, 2012 · Print This Article
by: Nima Naderi
Straight out of Queens and New York City, the beat of the WTA will continue this week in Quebec, Canada. With no time to adjust from the outdoor conditions at the US Open to the indoor surface south of the boarder, a competent field of 32 women will bid for Canada’s second most prestigious title.
Making another trip to Canada post-Olympic Games, this year’s Bell Challenge will feature the likes of Dominika Cibulkova, Yanina Wickmayer, Mona Barthel and Aleksandra Wozniak.
Cibulkova, who took a wildcard into the event after a disappointing third-round loss at the US Open, will be eager to begin her fall season in style as she makes a push to break into the top 10 for the first time. Winning her second career title earlier this summer, Cibulkova’s 5′3″ frame has never held her back from challenging the world’s best.
Wozniak will undoubtedly have many eyes on her as she looks to continue her stellar season. Reaching a career high of No. 21 in the world back in 2009, Wozniak’s current rank of No. 48 has been aided by a quarterfinal finish in Montreal and Dallas.
Wozniak has always had a big game off the ground and her improved fitness this year has helped her gain ranking points. If she continues on the same path that she’s currently on, I don’t see any reason why she won’t crack the top 20 in the next 12 months.
Other stars to look for this week will include Wimbledon junior winner Eugenie Bouchard, Russian Elena Vesnina and Andrea Hlavackova.
Even though the draw is led by two top 30 players, don’t be surprised if an unseeded winner is crowned by week’s end.
Entering the event with nothing short of a title in mind, Cibulkova will have to be on her game from the get-go as she faces wily veteran Kirsten Flipkens in the first-round, potentially Mirjana Lucic or a qualifier in round two, and likely Petra Martic in the quarterfinals. If Cibulkova is able to survive this tough quarter, then No. 3 seed Barthel or No. 7 seed Zahlavova Strycova could be her semifinal opponent. I’d keep an eye on Great Britain’s Heather Watson to do some damage here, but as it stands now, I’ll have to go with Barthel to use her power game to come through.
Former US Open semifinalist Wickmayer finds herself as the No. 2 seed in Quebec. With a career-high rank of No. 12, Wickmayer hasn’t had her best year by any means, but her YTD record of 29-21 proves that she’s still winning a few matches on a weekly basis. Blessed with a killer two-hander and a feisty demeanor, Wickmayer will start against Alison Riske, before the likes of Dubois or Hradecka could be lurking.
The Canadian crowd should help Dubois’ chances this week, but if we’re looking for a player with an even brighter future, we should certainly be focused on youngster Bouchard. Possessing an innate competitive nature, Bouchard has the ability to hit both her forehand and backhand off the rise; a quality that is key to high-level success on the WTA.
With that being said, though, I believe Wozniack will outshine her countrywomen in this half and have enough motivation to reach her second career final.