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2016 Rogers Cup draw preview, predictions and analysis: Serena and Venus semifinal clash looking likely in WTA Montreal

Abigail Johnson in WTA Tour 23 Jul 2016
  • World no. 1 Serena Williams leads the field at the 2016 Rogers Cup from 25 - 31 July
  • Defending champion Belinda Bencic has been forced out of the event with injury
  • We preview, predict and analyse the WTA Montreal draw ahead of the event!
Serena Williams during her semifinal clash with eventual champion Belinda Bencic at the 2015 Rogers Cup. (Photo by GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

Serena Williams leads the field once again at the Rogers Cup, as defending champion Belinda Bencic sits out with injury. Here, we preview and predict the Montreal draw!

First quarter
Projected quarterfinal: Serena Williams (1) vs Carla Suarez Navarro (8) (Serena leads H2H 6-0)

Wimbledon champion Serena Williams returns to action for the first time since striking 22 major titles at the Rogers Cup. Her second title of the year showcased the top seeded wonderwoman at her vintage best, and it is form she will hope to carry to the American hard-court swing – the pressure of tying Steffi Graf's Open Era record of Grand Slam titles now lifted from her shoulders.

She will likely begin her quest for a third Toronto title – and first since 2014 – against Puerto Rico's Monica Puig, who has been enjoying her best season to date: twice making WTA Premier-level semifinals as a qualifier, and once going all the way to the final. Currently, Puig's game is very much power based, and the greater power and exquisite angles of Serena should see the American through to a third round match-up with – most probably – Timea Babos or no. 15 seed Johanna Konta. Konta beat Serena's sister, Venus, in the first round of Melbourne back in January.

Carla Suarez Navarro, meanwhile, enters this event off a loss to Venus in the Wimbledon fourth round. The Spaniard enjoyed her most successful grass-court season to date, and will immediately face challenges as she transitions back to hard-courts – with former US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer likely to be her first opponent. And the grinding only begins there. In one of the most blockbuster opening sections of the draw lie Lucie Safarova, Eugenie Bouchard, a qualifier and Dominika Cibulkova. The winner will surely be in a fit state to at least challenge, if not take down, Suarez Navarro. 

Semifinalist: SERENA

Second quarter
Projected quarterfinal: Agnieszka Radwanska (4) vs Venus Williams (6) (Venus leads H2H 8-4)

Still deep into the WTA Stanford draw at the time of writing, Venus Williams will be glad of her first round bye in the tournament where she made the final round as recently as 2014. The world no. 7 begins her trophy quest with a bang, against the winner of giant-slaying Barbora Strycova and long-time rising star Caroline Garcia. Victory there would see an altogether tougher task up next. A packed bracket contains future superstar Madison Keys, Wimbledon semifinalist Elena Vesnina, fellow American big-server CoCo Vandweghe and Russian lefty Ekaterina Makarova - all players of current quality, who will ensure that we enjoy some scintillating tennis from the offset in Montreal.

Meanwhile, Agnieszka Radwanska – who beat Venus for the trophy here two seasons ago – begins her campaign against either nifty Monica Niculescu or feisty Jelena Ostapenko. And although the no. 4 seed does not have the likes of Keys lurking in round three, she could still have a tough opponent to deal with in either pocket rocket Yulia Putintseva or resurging Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – who face off in the first round, with the winner guaranteed to face a qualifier. The Pole enters the event off a fourth round Wimbledon showing.

Semifinalist: VENUS

Third quarter 
Projected quarterfinal: Simona Halep (5) vs Garbine Muguruza (3) (Muguruza leads H2H 2-1)

World numbers two and three at the beginning of the year, Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza remain two of the toughest women on tour. Romania's Halep is likely to open her tournament against talented Kristina Mladenovic in round two, but a potential nightmare lies in the third round. Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, seeded a lowly no. 12 after some poor showings of late, could be a lethal opponent in the last 32 – should the Czech navigate her way past the winner of Alize Cornet and Andrea Petkovic.

Meanwhile, French Open champion Muguruza has lost two of three matches played since Paris victory, and – consequently - is surely on upset alert from the word 'Go' in Montreal. The  much-improved Annika Beck or feisty Aussie Daria Gavrilova would meet her in round two, with no. 14 seed Karolina Pliskova heading up the competition to face the winner in round three. Sara Errani – currently competing on clay – and Canadian wildcard Aleksandra Wozniak are also prospective third rounders.

Semifinalist: HALEP 

Fourth quarter 
Projected quarterfinal: Angelique Kerber (2) vs Roberta Vinci (7) (H2H tied at 2-2)

Angelique Kerber proved she had overcome her post-Melbourne slump with a run to the Wimbledon final. Now back at world no. 2, could this woman become something that nobody would have even dreamt this time last year: The only player besides Serena to be truly consistent? The German has landed in the least danger-strewn section of the draw, and will likely begin her Rogers Cup quest versus Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Top 20 player Elina Svitolina or no. 13 seed (and 2011 US Open champion) Samantha Stosur are leading campaigners to face the second seed in round three.

Roberta Vinci, seeded at no. 7, has not gone beyond the third round of a WTA event since February, and will be desperate for some good results leading up to the defence of her US Open final points. Nevertheless, the Italian would probably be fortunate to survive America's Sloane Stephens in the second round. And interesting bracket contains the woman who would face the winner of that clash, although it is near impossible to tell whom she might be. No. 9 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova is faced with Wimbledon mixed doubles champion Heather Watson in one opener, whilst teenager Daria Kasatkina faces the ever-improving Misaki Doi in the other. Any of those four would prove stiff competition for Stephens or Vinci.

Semifinalist: KERBER 

SEMIFINALS: SERENA d. VENUS, KERBER d. HALEP

FINAL: SERENA d. KERBER


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2016 Rogers Cup draw preview, predictions and analysis: Serena and Venus semifinal clash looking likely in WTA Montreal

Venus Williams beat sister Serena in the 2014 Rogers Cup semifinals. Will they meet at that stage again?: 2016 WTA Montreal draw preview and predictions.

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