The slate of first round matches in Toronto is very impressive so here comes some previews and polls. From now on, if you want to see my full selection of predictions I will be updating the prediction page for each tournament (click HERE) with daily predictions.
1. Venus Williams v Sabine Lisicki (Toronto, R1)
Venus Williams will be seeking her first ever win in Toronto when she plays Sabine Lisicki in the first round of the 2015 Rogers Cup. Venus reached the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal last year, but in her four previous appearances in Toronto, she has somewhat surprisingly never made it past the first round. Since reaching the last 16 of Wimbledon, Venus lost in the first round of Istanbul to Kateryna Bondarenko. It was a ragged display from the American player. Equally, Lisicki’s last outing on the tour wasn’t that pleasing. Lisicki lost to Kimiko Date-Krumm in Stanford, 1-6 7-6(4) 6-2 in what was the Japanese player’s first WTA main draw win if 2015.
Lisicki leads the head-to-head against Williams, 2-1. Lisicki won their last match in Beijing, 6-1 6-2 back in 2013. It’s worth noting that tournament came immediately after Tokyo where Venus had played five matches with three of them going the distance. Venus should be reasonably fresh having played just ten matches since Miami. Lisicki appears to be at a bit of crossroads right now. Her game seems to be so heavily hinged on confidence so one good showing could turn it all around. I’d take Venus though in this one.
Prediction: V.Williams d. Lisicki in 2 tight sets
2. Eugenie Bouchard v Belinda Bencic (Toronto, R1)
Tuesday night will see Eugenie Bouchard attempt to right her year in front of her home crowd when she takes on Belinda Bencic in the first round of the Rogers Cup. Genie’s had a miserable year; since the Australian Open, she has won just four matches on tour. Seven of her losses since Australia have come against players ranked outside of the top 50 and many of them have been tough losses, often from winning positions. Confidence has been at an all time low and during the grass court season, on her best surface, she was struggling with an abdominal injury. Since Wimbledon, Bouchard has stopped working with Sam Sumyk who she hired in February. While it is unfair to attribute Genie’s form to her partnership with Sumyk, a clean slate might be for the best.
Bouchard and Bencic played for the first time in Eastbourne with Bouchard retiring down 6-4 3-0. Bencic had a brilliant grass court season, winning a total of 14 matches on the green stuff. In her first showing on hard courts, Bencic lost in the second round of Washington to the eventual finalist, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She did however win the doubles title with Kristina Mladenovic, her second of the year. This will be a very intriguing match particularly when you factor in the home crowd. The big issue for me is whether Bouchard is fully healed from the abdominal injury she had at Wimby. She also had strapping on her leg when she practised with Ivanovic today. For that uncertainty and because Bencic has really come good in the last month or two, I’ll take BB to progress to round two.
Prediction: Bencic d. Bouchard in 2 sets
3. Sam Stosur v Daria Gavrilova (Toronto, R1)
This sounds fun… Sam Stosur and Daria Gavrilova will play each other for the first time on the WTA tour with the winner set to meet Lucie Safarova in the second round. Stosur’s had a good run since Wimbledon; she won eight straight matches, winning the title in Bad Gastein and reaching the semi-finals of Washington where she eventually lost to Sloane Stephens. Gavrilova’s form hasn’t been so great of late with three straight losses. However, her last two losses have been against Lesia Tsurenko in Istanbul, 7-6 3-6 6-3, who went onto win the title and then against Angelique Kerber in Stanford, 6-1 6-3, who…. Also, Gavrilova was troubled with an abdominal injury that forced her to pull out of her quarter-final in Eastbourne in June. These injuries can take a long time to heal. I love watching Gavrilova play but I think this could be a tricky match-up for her against Stosur.
Prediction: Stosur d. Gavrilova in 2 sets