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Stephens vs Abanda WTA Montreal live streaming, preview and tips - Third seed Stephens opens Coupe Rogers title quest against Canadian wildcard

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 8 Aug 2018
  • Sloane Stephens vs Francoise Abanda is live from Montreal at 2.00pm local time on Wednesday (7.00pm BST)
  • First career meeting between the pair
Sloane Stephens (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens begins her Coupe Rogers campaign on Wednesday against promising young Canadian talent Francoise Abanda.

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It was around this time last season when Sloane Stephens began what ended being an extraordinary run of form that culminated with the American landing her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open. Beginning the North American summer ranked outside the world’s top 900 after being sidelined for the last year with a foot injury, Stephens made the semi-finals at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, beating Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber and Lucie Safarova as the World No. 934 before going down to Caroline Wozniacki.

Proving that run wasn’t a fluke, Stephens conquered Kvitova and Safarova once more in Cincinnati at the Western & Southern Open the following week - along with Ekaterina Makarova and Julia Goerges to make back-to-back semi-finals, but even that was nothing compared to what she achieved in New York, securing the U.S. Open title with wins over Venus Williams and Madison Keys in the semis and final respectively to complete a fairytale return to tennis and finish the summer ranked inside the top 20.

Stephens is still have some troubles with her consistency, but is it really a problem if you’re ranked No. 3 in the world?! The 25-year-old has continued her upward trajectory in 2018, when after a slow start to the season, Stephens picked up her maiden Premier Mandatory title at the Miami Open, defeating Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko on her way to the silverware. But Stephens wasn’t done there, making her second Grand Slam final at the French Open, but after leading Simona Halep by a set and a break, she fell off the pace and ultimately succumbed 6-3 4-6 1-6 to the World No. 1.

Returning to her inconsistent ways, Stephens has only won one match since Roland Garros - and that came last week at the Citi Open in Washington D.C. against Bethanie Mattek-Sands after a first round exit at Wimbledon to Donna Vekic, while she lost in the second round in Washington to Andrea Petkovic. So, overall, we don’t know what to really expect from Stephens as she opens her Montreal campaign against a confident and talented young opponent.


Francoise Abanda (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Francoise Abanda, a 21-year-old Canadian talent who is of Cameroonian descent and currently ranked No. 191 in the world, scored her first WTA main draw win since September last year when she took down Belgian veteran Kirsten Flipkens in the Rogers Cup opening round on Tuesday night. Not even initially awarded a wildcard into the tournament, Abanda only gained entry into the main draw because Bianca Andreescu withdrew shortly before the event with a back injury - but now she’s safely in and recorded a significant victory, could the youngster register a career-best victory on Wednesday?

“I expected to play (qualifying) on Saturday and I wind up playing Tuesday night (in the main draw) so you never know what’s going to happen,” Abanda told reporters after the match. “Now, I’m playing the No. 3 player in the world. It’s going to be a tough match, but I’m going to be fearless.”

Injuries have played a large part in derailing Abanda’s progress up the rankings so far during her young career, with the Canadian suffering a shoulder injury that kept her out of action for almost two years as a 16-year-old, while she dealt with a back injury last year and suffered a neck issue earlier this season - all of which have resulted in her playing a limited schedule the last two seasons. Abanda’s main highlight last season came when she qualified and made the second rounds at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but wins have been far and few between in 2018, with Abanda only winning back-to-back matches once - and that came during a quarter-final exit at the ITF $60k event in Indian Harbour Beach in April.

But Abanda is on the big stage in her home country on Wednesday night and has absolutely nothing to lose, while Stephens is in questionable form. It’s certainly not out of the question that we see an upset in Montreal, especially with the level Abanda produced against Flipkens, but Stephens did look okay in Washington, and with some more practice ahead of the Coupe Rogers, I think she can take this in three sets.


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Stephens vs Abanda WTA Montreal live streaming, preview and tips - Third seed Stephens opens Coupe Rogers title quest against Canadian wildcard

U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens begins her Coupe Rogers campaign on Wednesday against promising young Canadian talent Francoise Abanda.

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