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WTA Rogers Cup 2018 draw preview and predictions | Halep, Sharapova, Kerber and Kvitova in the same half in Montreal

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 4 Aug 2018
  • Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber and Sloane Stephens are among those joining defending champion Elina Svitolina in Montreal
  • Rogers Cup tennis is live from Montreal from 6-12 August 2018
Elina Svitolina (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

French Open champion Simona Halep and Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber find themselves in the same half of the draw at the Rogers Cup, live from Montreal from 6-12 August 2018.

We break down the draw and predict the semifinalists and eventual champion as the entire WTA Tour top 10 head to Montreal for the Premier-5 level Rogers Cup, the first of two prestigious events that are key battlegrounds in the run-up to the US Open.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina, seeded fifth, could be set for a rematch of last year’s final against Caroline Wozniacki as early as the quarterfinals, while Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber finds herself in the same half as former Rogers Cup winners Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep.

Top quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Simona Halep (1) vs Caroline Garcia (6) (4-1)
Simona Halep (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Champion at the Rogers Cup in 2016, Simona Halep hasn’t won a title on North American hard courts since but the world no. 1 will hope to change that this week as she returns to action for the first time since her Wimbledon campaign ended with a shock third-round defeat to Su-Wei Hsieh.

Halep was open about the role that the emotional aftermath of finally breaking through to win her maiden major at the French Open – and the hero’s welcome she received in Romania – played in that Hsieh defeat, but if she is fit and not suffering from her frequent Achilles problems, the top seed is a superb player on these types of hard courts and should have had enough time to adjust to life as a Grand Slam champion.

Halep might not have much time to find her feet, because there are some tough players in her path. Likely to open against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, against whom she has a 7-0 record, a tougher test could await in the third round in the form of Venus Williams. The American hasn’t had great results so far this year, and was once more undone by unforced errors in a quarterfinal defeat to Maria Sakkari in San Jose last week, but if Williams has found enough of her range to win two matches and make the third round, she should be dangerous. An alternative opponent is Sorana Cirstea, a surprise Rogers Cup runner-up in 2013, who might meet Williams in the third round.

Halep won’t be too fearful of Caroline Garcia, who hasn’t done much this year and could easily go out in her opening match to Barbora Strycova or Magdalena Rybarikova. But the winner of a potential second-round match between Daria Kasatkina and Maria Sharapova would be a handful and a half. Indian Wells runner-up Kasatkina, who opens against San Jose semifinalist Sakkari, would be a fascinating test for Sharapova; the Russian seemed to be finding traces of her old form during the clay season, but was horrible in a first-round Wimbledon defeat to Vitalia Diatchenko. There are too many unknowns surrounding Sharapova’s form to pick anyone but Halep to come out of this quarter – but it promises to be a fascinating watch nevertheless.

Semifinalist: Halep

Second quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Angelique Kerber (4) vs Petra Kvitova (8) (6-6)
Angelique Kerber (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
A quarter bracketed by two players who had very different Wimbledons: Champion Angelique Kerber, and tournament favourite Petra Kvitova who lost in the first round.

Kvitova has been having a great season with five titles to her name, but despite a Rogers Cup title to her name back in 2012, she has never had much success on North American hard courts outside of New Haven and the left-handed Czech is in a section crowded with danger: She’ll open against either Anett Kontaveit (who took her out of the French Open) or Ekaterina Makarova, with fellow Czech Karolina Pliskova (who does play well on these courts) and Madrid runner-up Kiki Bertens among potential third-round opponents. 

Pliskova has slipped to world no. 9 after a fourth-round defeat to Bertens at Wimbledon, but I like her chances to reverse that result on the Dutch player in the second round and come through to the quarterfinals – which Kerber has a slightly smoother path to.

Initially Kerber seemed to have drawn the shortest straw of all, with Serena Williams her likely second-round opponent, but the American’s withdrawal puts the German up against either Tatjana Maria or Alize Cornet – a much nicer welcome back to competition – with Ashleigh Barty a likely third-round opponent. Unless Alison van Uytvanck, who could face Barty in the second round, can find some of the form which took her to the Wimbledon quarterfinals, it’s difficult to see Kerber not reaching the quarterfinals – and her record against Pliskova is a good one.

Semifinalist: Kerber

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Garbine Muguruza (7) vs Sloane Stephens (3) (1-1)
Sloane Stephens (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
The 2018 season is not going well for Garbine Muguruza, who has just one International-level title to her name so far and Cincinnati to defend next week, and the fact that she pulled out of San Jose with an arm injury doesn’t suggest it’s about to get any better.

The Spaniard actually doesn’t have a bad draw if she can find her feet quickly, but with her injury issues, opportunity could very much abound in this quarter. Muguruza could face Anastasija Sevastova or Aleksandra Krunic in the second round, either of whom are very capable of ousting her, with Wimbledon semifinalist Julia Goerges a potential third-round opponent; Daria Gavrilova is also a possibility to reach the third round, but it’s the savvy Sevastova, a US Open quarterfinalist in 2016-17, who is the player to watch out for.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens has semifinal points to defend at the Rogers Cup, and fortunately for her, she has a nice draw to work with. Defeated fairly understandably by Andrea Petkovic at the Citi Open, Stephens will open against a wildcard or a qualifier, with Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka – a dangerous but unknown quantity – or Lesia Tsurenko, two players she’s very capable of beating, her potential third-round opponents. And once Stephens gets on a roll, watch out.

Semifinalist: Stephens

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Elina Svitolina (5) vs Caroline Wozniacki (2) (3-1)
Caroline Wozniacki  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
The toast of the tennis world after winning her third title of the year in Rome, Elina Svitolina’s stock took a hit when she lost in the third round of Roland Garros to Mihaela Buzarnescu, and another when she was ousted in the first round of Wimbledon by Tatjana Maria.

Having failed to make much of an impression at the two biggest events at the core of the season, Svitolina must now regroup for an assault on the hard-court season, starting with her title defense in Montreal. The Ukrainian could open against Buzarnescu, but the Romanian has to make a quick transition from San Jose where she is in the semifinals at the time of asking, which should help Svitolina get revenge. 

On the other hand, things get very tough in the third round with French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, Johanna Konta (who faces Ostapenko in the first round and is showing signs of finding form again), Kristina Mladenovic (out of form but never not potentially dangerous) and Mladenovic’s first-round opponent Victoria Azarenka the four potential opponents for Svitolina. The back injury which took Azarenka out of San Jose sadly looks like discounting the former world no. 1 as a threat, but Ostapenko won both her previous matches with Svitolina and should like this draw.

Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki won the Rogers Cup in 2010 and was the finalist last year, and shouldn’t be discounted. The hard-hitting but erratic Aryna Sabalenka could be an interesting test in the second round, and Elise Mertens – or the very remote possibility of Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard, who meets Mertens in the first round – awaits in the third, but Mertens hasn’t yet really established herself as someone who can take it to the top players and has to make a swift transition from San Jose where she is in the semifinals. An Ostapenko-Wozniacki quarterfinal? The Latvian’s won all four they have played in the past. 

Semifinalist: Ostapenko

Semifinals: Halep d. Kerber
Stephens d. Ostapenko

Final: Halep d. Stephens

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WTA Rogers Cup 2018 draw preview and predictions | Halep, Sharapova, Kerber and Kvitova in the same half in Montreal

WTA Rogers Cup 2018 tennis is live from Montreal from 6-12 August with defending champion Svitolina potentially facing Wozniacki in a quarterfinal rematch of last year’s final, while Halep, Venus Williams and Sharapova are in the same quarter

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