While the ATP Tour descends on Toronto, the WTA Tour heads to Montreal for the women’s instalment of the Rogers Cup, or Coupe Rogers as it is known in the French-speaking part of Canada. Here are our best tennis value picks this week.
First Quarter: Serena Favoured Again
Serena Williams is the top favourite in the women’s field at +188, but the American isn’t enjoying a season to her lofty standards. Mainly failing at all three grand slams to date – her best was a R16 appearance at the Australian Open. While she has picked up two premier titles in Miami and Rome, and arrives in Montreal on the back of a win in Stanford, her numerous slip-ups this season suggest she’s not the dominant force she once was.
Aiding along this notion is a top half of the draw loaded with potential dangerous floaters, players that could give the American starlet some trouble. The name that practically leaps off the page and has the entire Canadian nation salivating at the prospective headlines is Eugenie Bouchard. Canada’s No.1 player on the WTA Tour, and one of the fastest rising stars in both the men’s and women’s game, is matched at +1000 to win outright, marking her as the fourth favourite to win it all. The 20-year-old reached the semis of both the Australian Open and French Open, and she is flush off a runner-up finish at Wimbledon, so picking up a premier title in her home event isn’t as improbable as one would think. Could she deliver on high expectations and get past Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, should the highly anticipated matchup emerge, that is. Spoilers to that party include Caroline Wozniacki, Daniela Hantuchova, Samantha Stosur and Lucie Safarova, to name a few.
Serena Williams vs. Eugenie Bouchard. Top spoiler pick: Hantuchova to beat Bouchard in the R16. Match to spot: Samantha Stosur for the potential upset over Serena Williams in the R32.
Once again, Maria Sharapova falls into the same half of the draw as Serena Williams, set on a collision course in the semis. Her record against the American speaks volumes, prompting many tennis bettors to question her merit as the second favourite at +600 to win outright. Since the pair met in the Miami final earlier this season however, Sharapova has avoided any imminent collisions with Serena, largely down to the American’s slip-ups. Obviously, her odds would improve in Montreal if such a slip-up would occur once again.
Sharapova’s section is no picnic however. Potentially Garbine Muguruza (+4000) or home favourite Stephanie Dubois looms in her opening match. Yanina Wickmayer, Carla Suarez Navarro, Bojana Jovanovski or Karolina Pliskova looms in the R16, while a whole slew of threats could emerge in the quarters, including Venus Williams, Angelique Kerber (+2500), a finalist in Stanford last week and the player that beat Sharapova at Wimbledon, and Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta.
Sharapova vs. Angelique Kerber. Top spoiler picks: Garbine Muguruza and Flavia Pennetta to emerge into the quarters.
Victoria Azarenka headlines this section. The Belarusian is short on match play ahead of this tournament, on account of injury time off. She fell in the second round of Wimbledon and hasn’t played since. Her lack of form could be an issue, not to mention her less than favourable +1600 odds to win outright. Still, she has a good corner, a negotiable one in which she could work her way into form. Early threats include in-form Alize Cornet (+10000) and Dominika Cibulkova (+2500). Quarterfinal opponents that could prove tricky include Sabine Lisicki (+6600), Washington champion Svetlana Kuznetsova (+4000) and Agnieszka Radwanska (+2500).
Victoria Azarenka vs. Agnieszka Radwanska. Spoiler Alert: Alize Cornet vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals.
Jelena Jankovic and Petra Kvitova flank a wide-open section that could fall any which way. Jankovic can be inconsistent. Fondness towards drama and distraction on the court is usually at the crux of the matter, making her a beatable top seed. Some of the players she’ll need to be concerned with are Sloane Stephens, home favourite Alexsandra Wozniack and compatriot Ana Ivanovic (+2500). Indeed, Ivanovic is priced shorter than Jankovic at +6600, which is telling.
Kvitova is flush off a Wimbledon title, fittingly matched at +800 odds to win outright. If the Czech plays lights out tennis as she did at the All England Club, she’s virtually unbeatable, making her a good bet to win this section. Are tennis bettors ready to forgive her for blowing hot and cold over the last three years, since winning her first Wimbledon title in 2011? It remains to be seen how well she deals with the pressure of expectations in this event. It’s her first tournament back, so match play could also be an issue. Sprinkled across this section are several standout players, namely Andrea Petkovic and lefty Ekaterina Makarova, a couple that could do some damage in key rounds.
Quarterfinal Pick: Ana Ivanovic vs. Petra Kvitova. Top Spoiler Alert: Andrea Petkovic to beat Petra Kvitova in the R16.