WTA Montreal 2018 – Match Analyses and Polls

Sunday’s final poll

Saturday’s SF matches in Montreal

Simona Halep vs. Ash Barty: So this is a new match-up alert! Halep has complained about the scheduling and it has been tough on her this week having to play three matches in the last two days. She played her best match of the week to beat Garcia in the QFs. Since a long opener against Begu, Barty has been steady and winning in straights. I’m interested to see how Barty’s game matches up to Halep. Generally Barty has struggled against the counter punchers who gets lots of balls back. Halep is clearly feeling it physically so there could be an opportunity for Barty. Halep the fave, but optimistic that Barty could spring an upset.

Sloane Stephens vs. Elina Svitolina: The pair have played each other but it feels like a new match-up as they haven’t played since 2014. The pair are tied at 1-1 in their H2H. Really fascinated to see how this one pans out in what is an all top five clash. Svitolina has mostly served well and rebounded nicely from the grass. She was hitting short for some of her match vs. Mertens although ended it very positively. Stephens has been decent in all aspects of her game and she’s been at 75% first serves for her last two matches. Edging towards Sloane…

Saturday’s SF Polls 

Friday’s QF matches in Montreal

Ash Barty vs. Kiki Bertens: Ring the bells for a new match-up! (Edit – I lied, they have met but not showing on Tennis Abstract!) Personally very happy to see this pair in the QFs and with a great opportunity to go deeper. The early signs are that Bertens is high on confidence building from her successful clay and grass court seasons. Interested to see how Bertens copes with Barty’s variety and changes in pace. On the fence with having not watched much of their matches yesterday. I want to go for Barty but Bertens is in some great form.

Sloane Stephens vs. Anastasija Sevastova: The pair split their two meetings on hard courts last year with Stephens winning in a third set tiebreak at the US Open and Seva winning in Zhuhai. I was surprised that Sevastova beat Goerges on Thursday. I didn’t see either of their last matches so i’m not in the best position to say much here, and with most of today’s matches! I’m sticking with my pre-tournament finalist in Stephens.

Simona Halep vs. Caroline Garcia: Great effort from Halep to win two matches in one day although I think I read she was in pain? I caught the end of her first win over Pavs. To be honest I would have been very surprised to see Halep lose that with their record. She fought hard and played well to get the win at the end though. By all accounts, Garcia was brilliant vs. Sharapova. On form and freshness, Garcia is the favourite. I’ve learnt with time though that it’s not always that straightforward.

Elina Svitolina vs. Elise Mertens: An Aus Open QF rematch! Mertens is having a stunning year and seems to be pushing on again during the summer hard court season. I watched Svits vs. Buz and for the first set vs. Konta. Serve looks good and she’s already put the Wimby disappointment well and truly behind her. Not an easy match but I do wonder if Mertens is dealing with a few injuries. Going for Svitolina.

Thursday’s R3 matches in Montreal

Sloane Stephens vs. Carla Suárez Navarro: The schedule is ludicrous so that the winner of this match will be in the quarter-finals before four players have even started their second round match. Stephens leads the H2H, 2-0 and has never dropped a set against CSN. On both occasions, CSN was a top ten player and Stephens was the underdog. Now the rankings have flipped. I’d still go for Stephens here as I feel, unless she has one of her off days, that she does most things better than CSN. Stephens in 2.

Caroline Garcia vs. Maria Sharapova; Sharapova was superb on Thursday vs. Kasatkina and has done well to get off the court quickly for both of her matches so far. This is crucial with the scheduling of this tournament and no rest days. Garcia needed three sets to get past Magdalena Rybarikova on Tuesday. Sharapova leads Garcia, 4-1 in their H2H. Garcia won their most recent match in Stuttgart, 3-6 7-6(6) 6-4. On the fence as playing well yesterday doesn’t automatically mean Sharapova will play well today as it’s a completely different opponent. Going with just an instinct. Oh dear! Sharapova in 3.

Ash Barty vs. Alizé Cornet: Intrigued by this match. Cornet scored her best win of the year over Kerber on Wednesday, while Barty produced a much improved display against Van Uytvanck. Cornet won their only previous match, 6-2 6-1, but it was over four years ago and on clay at Roland Garros. Cornet was extremely complimentary of Barty’s game in press. I think this could be a tricky match for Barty as she has tended to struggle against the counter-punchers. I think Barty’s confidence has taken a knock this year with a couple of her results despite being mostly solid. Could be a battle and Barty will need to be dynamic and proactive to get the win. Barty in 3.

Petra Kvitova vs. Kiki Bertens: A rematch of this year’s Madrid final which Kvitova won, 7-6(6) 4-6 6-3. That was a great contest. Both should be refreshed for this one in their first tournaments back since Wimbledon and having won their matches so far this week in straight sets. Edge with Petra who looked very secure vs. Kontaveit and seems to enjoy Montreal. Kvitova in 2.

Julia Goerges vs. Anastasija Sevastova: Third meeting this year with the pair splitting their two matches this year. Sevastova survived an absolute rollercoaster against Monica Puig, missing all kinds of opportunities to serve out the second set, then saving match points before winning the second set tiebreak and then rolling through the decider. Sevastova can be rather infuriating as her game is quite breathtaking at times, but mentally she can waver. Goerges has come from a set down in both her matches this week but ultimately prevailed in a serving clinic. Both wins show how far Goerges has come in the last year. Goerges in 2.

Thursday’s R2 matches in Montreal

Simona Halep vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Halep leads Pavs, 7-0 in their H2H so a tough one for Pavs! Again, not feeling an upset alert. Halep can often start slow after a break but I would guess if she did, she’d turn it around in time. Halep in 2.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Aryna Sabalenka: A rematch of last month’s excellent Eastbourne final. There was a nice piece on Sabalenka by David Kane on the WTA website where she spoke about dealing with pressure and that she really likes Montreal. I think I saw a picture of Wozniacki practising still with tape on her leg. The Dane pulled out of D.C. with a leg injury. I’d actually tag this with a mild upset alert. A fully fit Woz should be able to blunt Sabalenka’s power, but i’m not convinced she is.

Victoria Azarenka vs. Jo Konta: The great matches keep on coming! Delighted that Azarenka’s injury in San Jose was not a big issue. She’s one to watch for the US Open IMO. I was pleased for Konta to get that win over Ostapenko. There wasn’t much rhythm in their match so she did well to stay focused. I remember the last time they played each other in Miami where Azarenka beat Konta, 6-4 6-2. It was one of the better straight sets matches i’ve watched and there was a great respect between the two at the end of the match. Still a tad wary about Azarenka’s health but I would expect her to prevail. I think Konta can make this competitive though. Azarenka in 3.

Venus Williams vs. Sorana Cirstea: Venus has won their two previous matches in straight sets. Cirstea has game but not sure she has the staying power/consistency against the smartness of Venus. I’ve not been convinced by Venus’s actual level but she’s so good at battling her way through these types of matches. Venus in 3.

Wednesday R2 matches in Montreal

Angelique Kerber vs. Alizé Cornet: I’m fascinated to see how Kerber reacts after winning Wimby and whether this changes anything. Kerber leads Cornet, 3-1 in their H2H with Cornet winning their last match in Beijing. I don’t think that is too relevant for this one as Kerber is a different player this year to last. Cornet’s had a good summer so far after winning Gstaad and she’s certainly capable of making this a competitive match. Kerber in 2 with at least one close set.

Daria Kasatkina vs. Maria Sharapova: Ring the bells for a new match-up alert! I’m really looking forward to this match. Sharapova had a comfortable opener against Karatantcheva, while Kasatkina needed three sets to beat Sakkari. Kasatkina’s adapted pretty well to the big stage this year. Intrigued to see if she tightens up and plays passive against someone of Sharapova’s stature. If Kasatkina doesn’t sit back then i’m optimistic for her chances. Few data points to go on so it’s a tricky one to call. Kasatkina in 3.

Sloane Stephens vs. Francoise Abanda: Another first time match-up. Abanda scored her first WTA main draw win of 2018 on Tuesday, beating Kirsten Flipkens in straight sets. I was very surprised by that result. I thought Stephens’s level was decent in D.C. I wasn’t too concerned by the loss to Petkovic as she just seemed to run out of energy in challenging conditions. Not feeling an upset alert here. Stephens in 2.

Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Lesia Tsurenko: CSN had a good win over Naomi Osaka in the first round. This is a decent draw on paper so I hope the Spaniard doesn’t feel added pressure. Tsurenko actually leads the H2H, 2-1. CSN in 3.

Elina Svitolina vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu: Fascinated by this one! Buzarnescu is on a tear at the moment and has beaten Svitolina twice, in straight sets, on clay and grass. On hard courts, I would guess Svitolina is the most comfortable. Buz has played so much tennis so fatigue is a possibility, but then again she’s flying high with her confidence soaring. I think I read (can’t remember where!) that Svitolina was annoyed at herself after Wimby and went straight back to work. That makes sense from all the pictures she posted in the gym. On the fence with this one. Buz can’t be underestimated, but Svits does have a habit of powering through these anticipated matches where she’s tipped as an upset alert. If I go two sets it will definitely be a three setter which would be fun! Svitolina in 2.

Ash Barty vs. Alison Van Uytvanck: Really encouraged to see Van Uytvanck win her first match in Canada. I’m kind of hopeful her Wimby run could have unlocked something as her game is there. Just the mentality and consistency to come with it. I was concerned for Barty despite the win over Begu in what had to be one of the worst matches i’ve watched all year. Barty was passive and nervous for much of the second and third sets. Barty must improve to keep on winning. I’m hoping that the win gave her a bit more confidence. Would have to go for AVU here with how aggressively she’s been playing.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Kiki Bertens: Wimby rematch from where Bertens won in straight sets, 6-3 7-6(1). Really not sure about this one. Since her run on clay in Stuttgart and Madrid, I think Pliskova has played poorly. Wonder if Pliskova may sneak out a win here. Pliskova in 3.

Tuesday R2 matches in Montreal

Petra Kvitova vs. Anett Kontaveit: Third meeting this year between Kvitova and Kontaveit. Kontaveit finally bagged a win in their last match at Roland Garros. I really don’t know what to expect from Petra after a long lay-off after Wimbledon. It looked like she had a well-earnt rest and I vaguely remember her saying before that her favourite tournament was Montreal.

I went for Petra in my Draw Challenge to the QFs but I don’t have great hopes of a deep run this week. Kontaveit took some time to get going in her first rounder but came back for an impressive win over Makarova in the first round. I guess I would go for Petra in this H2H on hard court but it’s not a confident pick!

Caroline Garcia vs. Magdalena Rybarikova: Like Kvitova, Garcia has had a long lay-off since a first round exit at Wimby. Rybarikova played her first match in a while against Strycova, coming back from a set down to win in three and with a very solid third set showing. Rybarikova did have some taping on her shoulder. Again, difficult to say much with no data points for Garcia in the last month. Garcia in 2.

Julia Goerges vs. Lucie Safarova: A bit disappointed for Lucie that she will have to play her fourth match in as many days after a brutal first rounder against Gavrilova on Monday. Actually, both players came from a set down to win their openers on Monday. Not as optimistic for Lucie as I was yesterday as I think it’s a tough turnaround bear in mind the illness she battled in the year. She did look OK physically at the end vs. Gavrilova but it’s the most consecutive tennis she has played this year. Goerges has become a really reliable competitor over the last year or so.

Tuesday R1 matches in Montreal

Irina-Camelia Begu vs. Ash Barty: First match for Barty since the grass. The Aussie ended her Wimbledon campaign with a disappointing loss to Daria Kasatkina. Barty’s had a solid year without doing anything spectacular and I tend to think she may be lacking confidence. She actually seems to be quite negative at times, particularly with her coach. I think Barty’s game is there, it’s just about bringing the consistency and tactics at the right time. Decent first rounder on paper with Begu winning just 15 games in her last 4 matches. Barty in 2.

Carol Zhao vs. Kiki Bertens: Bertens will be the highest ranked player that Zhao has played since 2014 when she played Ana Ivanovic in Stanford. Bertens has had a super year and i’m really hoping that her success at Wimbledon will give her the belief that she can do well on hard courts. Her best results have always come on clay but I really don’t see why her game can’t translate to the hard courts. Ideal opener for Bertens on paper after a well-earnt break. Bertens in 2.

Johanna Konta vs. Jelena Ostapenko: Of the initial slate of first round matches, this is the best of the lot. Konta made the quarter-finals of San Jose last week with that huge win over Serena in the first round. She was a tad disappointing in her exit to Mertens having started in sensational form. Konta faded and seemed to back off during the match. Ostapenko will be playing her first match since Wimbledon.

The pair are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head with both previous matches going the distance. This is a tricky one to call and i’ve gone back and forth with this one. As it’s Ostapenko’s first match in a while and back on hard court, I like Konta’s chances of springing an upset after a generally confidence-boosting run in San Jose. I thought Konta had a decent grass court season and her loss to Cibulkova in R2 was not a bad loss with Cibulkova playing a peak match. Her three losses at Nottingham, Brum and Eastbourne were all to the eventual champions. Konta in 3.

Elise Mertens vs. Eugenie Bouchard: The pair’s last meeting was my first ever sighting of Mertens. The then ranked #171 thrashed Bouchard, 6-2 6-0 in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The tables have turned since then in terms of ranking. Both have potential injury concerns heading into this match. Bouchard pulled out of Gstaad in the semi-finals with injury in her last performance on tour, while Mertens was clearly bothered by a forearm injury in her semi-final in San Jose.

I wonder if Mertens will be able to recover in time. I would generally favour Mertens as she’s proven to be very reliable, resilient and intelligent on court in what has been a superb year. I was very impressed with Bouchard at Wimbledon where she played a good match against Barty in what was a high-quality second round match. She’s picked up some battling wins and I think that is huge for her. Bouchard is a total confidence player with how aggressively she now plays. On the fence with this one because of Mertens’s injury.

Tatjana Maria vs. Alizé Cornet: Serena Williams’s withdrawal has paved the way for a quite delightful rematch between Cornet and Maria. The pair have played just once before in one of the most dramatic matches of 2016 where Maria accused a cramping, Cornet of gamesmanship. Cornet won, 6-3 6-7(5) 6-4. Both will be pumped for this one! Maria had been enduring a dreadful year before the grass court season where she won her maiden WTA title in Mallorca. On hard court, i’d go for Cornet. All eyes will be on the handshake… Cornet in 3.

Maria Sharapova vs. Sesil Karatantcheva: I wasn’t aware of the history between Sharapova and Karatantcheva until Ben Rothenberg’s tweet yesterday. This should be a fun one! There are plenty of unknowns with Sharapova as she hasn’t played since Wimbledon where she suffered a surprising loss to Diatchenko. Karatantcheva is playing her first WTA main draw of 2018 so this is in a similar mould to the Diatchenko match. Still, i’d go for Sharapova. Sharapova in 2.

Naomi Osaka vs. Carla Suárez Navarro: A nice clash of styles. In the back of the my head i’d tagged Osaka as a dark horse as the US Open. However, i’m a bit concerned by this leg injury and I thought she looked to be moving gingerly in her first round match in D.C. She lost to Linette in the second round. Suárez Navarro had to qualify for Montreal so i’m guessing she forgot to enter or made a late decision to play Montreal as her ranking should have got her into the main draw.

CSN won their only previous match on the clay in Strasbourg last year, 6-3 6-2. I like this match-up for CSN and on what is normally a slow to medium paced court. I’m unconvinced by Osaka’s health so for that reason, would go for the Spaniard. Suárez Navarro in 3.

Francoise Abanda vs. Kirsten Flipkens: Abanda bagged a late main draw wildcard after Andreescu’s withdrawal. It’s not been a great year for Abanda who is 0/7 for qualifying at WTA main draw events in 2018. Therefore, this is her first WTA main draw of the year. Flipkens is enjoying a good year and built on her great grass court season to qualify for Montreal. I think that Flipkens will have too much variety and game for Abanda. Flipkens in 2.

Victoria Azarenka vs. Kristina Mladenovic: I held off writing about this match-up as I thought Azarenka would withdraw due to the back injury that forced her to retire from San Jose. It appears Azarenka is good to go and there have been pictures of her practising in Montreal. If she is indeed fit then I would favour Azarenka in this match.

Daria Kasatkina vs. Maria Sakkari: Fun match-up this one and a great respect between both players. Kasatkina lost early in Moscow two weeks ago but it wasn’t a concerning loss IMO. Sakkari had a great week in San Jose, a career best week, before coming up short in the final against Buzarnescu. The pair last played at Roland Garros where Kasatkina won, 6-1 1-6 6-3. I think the court should suit both players? The one thing that I am certain of is a nice hug at the end. Kasatkina in 3.

Monica Niculescu vs. Sorana Cirstea: Niculescu leads the H2H, 5-4 and has won four of their five encounters on hard courts. Niculescu hasn’t played much tennis since Miami due to injury. Two straight set qualifying wins in Montreal may be an indicator that she’s feeling better physically. A tough one to call with the H2H being so close. Niculescu is the steadier player, while Cirstea has the more obvious weapons It will depend on Cirstea’s patience. Niculescu in 3.

Aryna Sabalenka vs. Ana Bogdan: First time meeting between the pair. Bogdan had a good win over Makarova in D.C. and then qualified for Montreal. Sabalenka hasn’t won a match since Eastbourne and lost her first match in San Jose against Maria Sanchez in three sets. On the fence with this one. Feel that the court may suit Bogdan? Bogdan in 3.

Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. Wang Qiang: Another first time match-up. Buzarnescu will likely be tired from San Jose but she’s been a machine over the last few months and is used to playing lots of tennis this year. Tend to think the Buz will keep on winning. Buzarnescu in 2.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Christina McHale: Four of their five previous meetings have gone the distance and neither is enjoying a great year. Pavs pulled out of San Jose with a persistent shoulder injury, while McHale was pretty dreadful in San Jose vs. Sakkari. To her credit, McHale scored two confidence-boosting wins to qualify for Montreal. It was the first time she has won completed back-to-back matches in 2018. On the fence again with this one and guess it could be a rollercoaster. Close to 50-50. McHale in 3.

Tuesday R1 polls for Montreal

Monday R1 matches in Montreal

Barbora Strycova vs. Magdalena Rybarikova: Strycova and Rybarikova are both playing their first matches on tour since Wimbledon. They last met in the semi-finals of Birmingham where Rybarikova won in two tight sets, 7-6(1) 6-4. I think it was a good match – didn’t get time to catch up before it went off WTA TV! Strycova leads the overall head-to-head, 4-2, and has won their two previous matches on hard courts. Strycova seems to be well past her spring Slump and I would favour the Czech player on this medium paced hard court. Strycova in 2.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Katerina Siniakova: This will be Pliskova’s first match as a married woman! I wondered if the doubles triumph may spur Siniakova on in singles. Sadly there’s been no sign of this! I think that Pliskova will be too steady in this match-up. Pliskova in 2.

Ekaterina Makarova vs. Anett Kontaveit: Interesting match-up here between two big hitters. Kontaveit made the 3rd round of Wimbledon but generally had a disappointing grass court season. Makarova won back-to-back matches in singles for the first time this year at Wimbledon and played some peak tennis. Makarova has not built on those results at SW19 with an early loss in Washington. Kontaveit won their only previous match on the hard courts of Miami last year, 6-7(1) 6-2 6-2. I think that Kontaveit will need to build her confidence again in match play but I tend to think she will be more calm and consistent than Makarova. Kontaveit in 2.

Aleksandra Krunic vs. Anastasija Sevastova: Krunic and Sevastova will play each other for the third time this year. Sevastova has won both matches in straight sets and arrives in Montreal on a seven match winning streak (withdrew from Moscow QFs) having won Bucharest. Sevastova’s generally had a good year, but has played poorly at the last two Slams. Krunic hasn’t won a match since winning ‘s-Hertogenbosch and was terrible in her first round match against Boulter in Washington. Anything will be an improvement from Krunic here. Sevastova in 2.

Timea Babos vs. Julia Goerges: Babos will want to put a 0-6 1-6 loss to Maria Sakkari in San Jose behind her. Goerges won their last match in Madrid earlier this year in straight sets and i’d go for Goerges again with the consistency she’s brought for much of the year. Goerges in 2.

Venus Williams vs. Caroline Dolehide: My match of the day for Monday!I’m a big fan of Dolehide’s game and she has risen to the occasion before so am expecting this to be a very interesting match. Dolehide had solid wins over Wickmayer and Puig to qualify for the main draw. I thought Willams looked OK in San Jose, better than at Wimbledon. Still, I would say Venus is vulnerable. I want to go for Dolehide here but I have a nagging feeling that Williams will grit her way through. Williams generally plays the up-and-comers well and uses her experience to her advantage. I will watch with much interest! Venus in 3.

Lucie Safarova vs. Daria Gavrilova: It was bizarre to see Lucie have to qualify. She came through two hard fought matches against Sebov and Brady to make the main draw. No matter what the performance, the wins should give Safarova some confidence. Safarova leads the head-to-head with Gavrilova, 4-2. Generally it has been a good match up for Safarova as while Gavrilova does mix it up, it’s never really been enough to throw Safarova off her game. I’m optimistic for Lucie’s chances in this match.

Lesia Tsurenko vs. Katie Boulter: Boulter is in her second consecutive WTA main draw after coming through qualifying. Boulter was fortunate to get a walkover in the first round of qualifying and then play the world #730 in the second round. In this loaded draw, Tsurenko is one of the better first rounders on paper. Still, Tsurenko is a competent player and assuming she is healthy (you just never know!) then I would give the edge to Tsurenko. Tsurenko in 3.

Monday R1 Polls for Montreal

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