I only got to watch a little bit of the tennis on Tuesday, but what I did see in the match between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Venus Williams was good stuff. Venus came through in the end, 6-1 3-6 6-2. The second set was high quality and there were plenty of hard hitting and brutal rallies. Pavs held two marathon service games where she faced multiple break points. She fought impressively to win the second set, but Venus stepped up her level and aggression in the decider, and was good value for the win. There are some fantastic second round matches in Montreal on Wednesday and I really wanted to preview Lisicki-Keys and Sharapova-Muguruza, but just not had time…
1. Jelena Jankovic v Sloane Stephens (WTA Montreal, R2)
After a dropping a large chunk of ranking points at Wimbledon following a first round exit to Maria Kirilenko, Sloane Stephens now finds herself unseeded at the Premier events. In her first match since Wimbledon, Sloane was dropped a third set bagel in DC as she lost to Christina McHale, 6-4 4-6 6-0. In Montreal, she made a much better start as she cruised past Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-3 6-0. It was a solid performance from Sloane, but Wozniak had a horrendous day, hitting just three winners to a whopping 25 unforced errors.
Sloane will take on Jelena Jankovic in what should be a very interesting second round match. Jelena hasn’t played since a first round exit to Kaia Kanepi at Wimbledon. She is bound to be a little rusty and this could be a good match-up for Sloane having already got a win under her belt. The pair have played once before in Cincy last year and it was JJ who prevailed, 3-6 7-5 7-5. I fancy another three setter with Sloane racing out to a first set lead, but JJ working it out in the end.
Prediction: Jankovic d. Stephens in 3 sets
2. Serena Williams v Sam Stosur (WTA Montreal, R2)
Serena Williams won Stanford on Sunday and will kick off her campaign in Montreal on Wednesday. Serena had an encouraging and confidence-boosting week in Stanford where she defeated Angelique Kerber in the final, 7-6 6-1. Serena was 5-1 down, but recovered supremely well. She showed some lapses during the week, but a quarter-final win over Ana Ivanovic, 7-5 in the third set, was a huge mental win. Serena faces Sam Stosur in the second round of Montreal. Sam enjoyed a comfortable 6-2 6-2 win over Monica Puig in the first round. This will be the tenth meeting between the pair and Stosur has a reasonably good record, beating Serena on three previous occasions. The most recent and significant of those was the US Open final in 2012, which Stosur won, 6-2 6-3. This week will probably go one of two ways; Serena wil bomb out early or she’ll pick up where she left off from in Stanford and win the whole caboodle. Serena shouldn’t be too fatigued after playing four matches in Stanford, of which only one went to three sets. I think she will be zoned in and have too much power and consistency for Stosur.
Prediction: S.Williams d. Stosur in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
3. Angelique Kerber v Caroline Garcia (WTA Montreal, R2)
Like Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber has had two days off since the Stanford final and will play her first match of the week in Montreal against Caroline Garcia. The Frenchwoman needed three sets to get past Karin Knapp in the first round, 6-2 6-7(6) 6-1. This has been a good year for Garcia, who won her first WTA title in Bogota. She played some fabulous tennis during the clay court season and played one of the better matches of the entire year in the Madrid quarter-finals against Agnieszka Radwanska, which she just came up second best, 6-4 4-6 6-4. Since a thumping 6-1 6-1 loss to Ana Ivanovic at Roland Garros, her form has dipped. I watched her play a horrible match against Sloane Stephens at Eastbourne, but she did well to reach the third round of Wimbledon. Speaking of Madrid, Garcia beat Kerber in their only previous match. Kerber retired at 6-3 2-0 down. Garcia’s a lovely player to watch when she’s in-form. However her game has the ability to fall apart when she’s not timing the ball well. Kerber may be a little tired, but I think she will have enough in the tank to get through this match.
Prediction: Kerber d. Garcia in 2 tight sets
WTA Montreal 2nd Round Predictions
Lucie Safarova d. Magdalena Rybarikova in 2 sets
Caroline Wozniacki d. Klara Koukalova in 2 tight sets
Maria Sharapova d. Garbine Muguruza in 2 tight sets
Carla Suarez Navarro d. Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets
Venus Williams d. Yulia Putintseva in 2 tight sets
Dominika Cibulkova d. Heather Watson in 3 sets
Madison Keys d. Sabine Lisicki in 3 sets *Gutted this isn’t streamed, but there are just too many good matches*
Ana Ivanovic d. Coco Vandeweghe in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Ekaterina Makarova d. Elena Vesnina in 2 sets
Petra Kvitova d. Casey Dellacqua in 2 sets