By Matt @ TennisRatings
As the North American Hard Court swing really starts to get going we move into the first of the women’s Premier events in Montreal where 14 of the top 16 women are competing.
Court conditions are likely to be very average, as there were 63.4% service games held in 2012 (the last time the event was held) and 64.0% in 2010. On that basis it’s difficult to see conditions favouring a certain genre of player.
The weather is likely to be warm, in the mid-high 20’s Celsius and we might see a little rain and perhaps a storm on Tuesday or Wednesday, but otherwise the players should enjoy sunny conditions.
I’ve broken down the early parts of the draw and I’m left with 4 groups of 4 girls, the last 16 in other words, so let’s take a look at what they can offer and whether we can spot any value in the outright betting markets.
The numbers after the names are the player’s hard court premier event win loss career records, followed by the career hard court premier event win %. In brackets are the 1 year surface hold & break opponent percentages.
The tour hard court mean for you to compare against is 63.1% Service Hold & 36.9% Break Opponent.
Serena Williams 77-13 85.55% (83.6% - 47.9%) She has suffered a couple of unexpected losses and her aura of invincibility has started to crack this year. However, it’s interesting to hear reports of her suffering with a virus for the past few months and this suggests her demise may not be quite yet upon us.
She seems to be playing herself back into form with some impressive displays this week in Stanford and last year’s winner definitely can’t be discounted.
Lucie Safarova 49-45 52.12% (74.5%-28.5%) She has had a really good season so far reaching the 2nd week in the French Open and the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
She serves well on the hard court but just doesn’t break enough for my liking and Serena can see her off in the round of 16.
Caroline Wozniacki 112-45 71.33% (72.5%-42.5%) Since a high-profile break up with some golfer I can’t recall the name of she’s gone on a tear up reaching the semi-finals in Eastbourne, the second week of Wimbledon and taking the title in Istanbul.
Her stats and current form put her in with a good chance but the key is in my opinion when this event is held in Montreal (every other year) as her last two appearances have brought a title and a semi final loss.
When the prices are released she’s worth close inspection.
Eugiene Bouchard 16-16 50% (65.7%-43.8%) Has had a fantastic season and has made real progress up the ranks with solid performances in all the Grand Slams so far this year.
I’m of the impression that hard court is her weakest surface and the stats do back that up. Putting that together with a tough quarter to get out of, and with the added pressure of playing in front of a home crowd, I can see an in-form Wozniacki taking care of her in a potentially epic last 16 match up.
Maria Sharapova 91-23 79.82% (69.2%-41.5%) We’ve not seen Maria since her 4th Round Wimbledon exit to an inspired Kerber. Her hard court stats are fine but despite a final appearance in the Toronto version of this tournament 5 years ago her record here is poor with regular 3rd round exits.
She’s not played on a hard court since the Miami final at the end of March and potentially faces a tricky tie against Muguruza in the 2nd round. Sharapova usually makes it to the business end of tournaments but that in my opinion is no given here.
Maria Sharapova has a lot to prove this week...
Bojana Jovanovski 21-24 46.66% (61.5%-40.4%) Hard Courter who is coming into form with a final and ¼ final appearance in her last two tournaments, really showing people what a good player she can be and a good performance here in Montreal will see her hit a career high rank.
The caveat is her mental game against the very best players as this leaves a lot to be desired(her career record against top 10 players is 4-17) and if Sharapova does make it this far I can see Bo-Jo chasing the little yellow ball all over the court and crumbling, but if she doesn’t who knows?
Flavia Pennetta 57-41 58.17% (69.0%-42.0%) Not seen since an early exit from Wimbledon. In addition to this, since taking the Indian Wells title in March she hasn’t been past the 3rd round in 8 tournaments.
The consistent Italian has decent hard court stats though and seems to like playing over the pond so her enthusiasm may be rekindled and a match up with Kerber looks to be on the cards in the last 16.
Angelique Kerber 49-34 59.03% (70.3%-42.1%) Since retiring against Garcia in Madrid in May she’s gone on a 16-5 run which has included a 4th round at Roland Garros, a final in Eastbourne, a ¼ final at Wimbledon and a final in Stanford. This season she’s been really consistent and the Stanford final was her 4th attempt at taking a title.
I do think that her run in Stanford has put paid to any chance she has here and I’m going with a fresh Pennetta to win a last 16 clash.
Victoria Azarenka 96-33 74.41% (64.8%-48.3%) Has been struggling with an injury this year and has only played 4 matches since March winning just one of them.
She seems to be slowly playing herself back to fitness but this possibly may be a tournament too soon and I’ll be looking closer at Vika in Cincinnati next week.
Dominika Cibulkova 49-43 53.26% (66.3%-44.4%) Seems to have gone off the boil since the early part of the year and after reaching the final in Kuala Lumpur back in April she has suffered four 1st round exits in her last 6 tournaments.
She’s back on her favoured surface here and we can expect an improvement in her play, she has ¼ final points to defend here and I can see her reaching that far at least.
Madison Keys 15-12 55.55% (71.8%-38.0%) I believe the young American can spring a surprise here as the bottom half of the 3rd quarter looks the weakest to me on paper, the highest seed Radwanska looks totally out of sorts and cannot be considered until she shows a bit more form.
Madison has been playing well lately winning the tournament in Eastbourne before retiring at 6-6 against Shvedova at Wimbledon possibly due to over-exertion. A first round exit in Washington will have done her no harm in her preparation for this Premier event and if she can get her serve and heavy ground strokes going here a quarter final place looks within her grasp.
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 21-24 46.66% (67.3%-36.6%) Has had a tremendous grass season bagging a title in Birmingham along with a ¼ final at Wimbledon and is in excellent form coming into this event.
I can see her doing us a favour giving an out of sorts Radwanska trouble in the 2nd round before falling to an inspired Keys in the last 16.
Sloane Stephens 21-19 52.5% (67.3%-35.8%) A couple of 1st round exits in her last two tournaments doesn’t really inspire any confidence and her mental application sometimes lets her down.
I can see her getting to the round of 16 though mainly at the expense of a badly out of form Jankovic, then Ana Ivanovic sends her packing.
Ana Ivanovic 71-46 60.68% (71.0%-42.2%) Ivanovic is a very consistent player across all surfaces and her 2014 record of 42-12 is currently amongst the best in the WTA.
She comes here in good form after battling well and taking Serena to 3 sets in the Stanford ¼ final last week.
I can see her getting to the ¼ finals at least and a potentially mouth-watering clash with Kvitova.
Andrea Petkovic 42-29 59.15% (63.4%-32.7%) Has been in fantastic form this year with a couple of titles and a Grand Slam semi-final to her name, she reached the semi-final at Stanford last week after taking the title in Bad Gastein on the clay two weeks previously.
I can see her reaching the last 16 here but then her recent exertions may catch up with her and the potential match up with Kvitova may be a step too far for the talented German.
Petra Kvitova 55-34 61.79% (71.3%-36.9%) Won this tournament last time it was in Montreal in 2013 and blasted her way to her 2nd Wimbledon title when last seen on court at the start of July.
She has struggled in the past over in North America with breathing difficulties but I can see her going well here after a good rest and should make the ¼ finals.
My last eight are Williams, Wozniacki, Sharapova, Pennetta, Cibulkova, Keys, Ivanovic & Kvitova.
At a push I’d go for a final four of Williams, Sharapova, Keys & Ivanovic.
Looking at the markets and the players draws I’ve taken a position on Keys & Wozniacki at 55.0 and 42.0 respectively with a view to hedging out at possibly the ¼ final stage.
I would have liked to have had Ivanovic onside as well but I’ve heard rumours that’s she was nursing an injury at Stanford last week and that’s enough to stop me, though the current exchange price of 27.0 is tempting but I’m guessing that’s factoring in her possible injury as it seems a tad too big to me.