The North American summer hard court swing ramps up this week as the best women in the world converge on Toronto for the 2017 Rogers Cup. The first big event since Wimbledon sees the entire top ten and most of the world’s top thirty taking part in the first key step of the US Open series. With first round action getting underway on Monday, it’s time to break down the draw and take a look ahead at what to expect this week in Toronto.
First Quarter: Pliskova’s debut
Newly minted world number one Karolina Pliskova will make her debut at the top spot when she contests her second round match later in the week. The top seed has a bye, but will face a tough challenge in her first match as the world’s top player. She will either face the always tricky Alize Cornet or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has enjoyed a strong performance this week in Stanford. The first seed Pliskova could face is 15th seed Anastasija Sevastova in the third round.
Caroline Wozniacki, the sixth seed, is the likely quarterfinal opponent. After a bye, she will open against a qualifier. To reach the quarters, Wozniacki, who won the Rogers Cup back in 2010, will likely have to go through fellow counterpuncher Agnieszka Radwanska, the 10th seed. However, Radwanska, the 2014 champion, will likely have her hands full in the opening round with hard-hitting American Coco Vandeweghe. The winner of that match will have to go through either Timea Babos or Canadian young gun Bianca Andreescu, who will be making her debut at her home nation’s biggest tournament. Whoever comes out of that section could meet Wozniacki for a place in the quarters and a potential showdown with the world number one.
Quarterfinal prediction: Wozniacki d. Pliskova
Second Quarter: Kerber faces the fire
Angelique Kerber, who was recently usurped by Pliskova at the top of the rankings, will look to take the first steps to reclaiming the number with a good showing in Toronto. Unfortunately for the German, she has a very challenging draw. After a bye, her biggest challenge may be the Toronto crowd as she will likely face national darling Eugenie Bouchard in her opening match. This is particularly challenging for Kerber has the young Canadian has had the German’s number historically, winning four of their six meetings. If Kerber can get through that match, she could potentially face the powerful Petra Kvitova, the 2012 champion in Montreal, in the third round, assuming Kvitova gets past Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round and the powerful Sloane Stephens in the second round.
On the other side of this quarter, seventh seed Johanna Konta will be looking to back up her solid run at Wimbledon with a good showing on the hard courts. She will open against either Peng Shuai or Citi Open finalist Ekaterina Makarova. Konta too could face a powerful opponent in the third round, as 11th seed Dominika Cibulkova is looming. Like Kerber, Cibulkova, who opens again Lesia Tsurenko, may need to fight the crowd as much as her opponent in the second round as home-hope Francoise Abanda is a potential opponent, if she can get past Lucie Safarova. This section is full of fire power and players with the potential to make magic happen.
Quarterfinal prediction: Kvitova d. Konta
Third Quarter: Clear paths for seeds
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza leads probably the most straightforward quarter of the draw. The Spaniard has a first round bye and will open her tournament against either a qualifier or Croatian Ana Konjuh. Her first seeded opponent could be 16th seed Elena Vesnina in the third round, who opens against Alison Riske.
World number five Elina Svitolina was not so lucky. While she also gets a bye and shouldn’t have too much trouble getting past either Roberta Vinci or Daria Kasatkina in the second round, Australian Open and Wimbledon runner-up Venus Williams is her likely third round opponent. Williams may only need to beat qualifiers to book a third round match with Svitolina, as she opens against one and will either another or Katerina Siniakova to reach the last sixteen. If Williams is victorious, that could set up a Wimbledon final rematch in the quarters.
Quarterfinal prediction: Williams d. Muguruza
Fourth Quarter: Early finals rematch
Last year, Simona Halep defeated Madison Keys to win the 2016 Coupe Rogers title in Montreal. The two will most likely do battle again at this year’s event, only much earlier. Keys opens her tournament against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. A victory would set up a rematch of last year’s final in the second round with second seed Halep. The winner of that match would likely face 13th seed Kristina Mladenovic, who opens against Barbora Strycova and would have to go through either a qualifier or Daria Gavrilova to set a third round date with one of last year’s finalists. Halep, who leads the year-to-date rankings, needs to defend her points here in Canada if she hopes to continue her bid to finally claim the number one ranking.
A potential battle of former French Open champions could decide who takes the other quarterfinal spot in this section of the draw, as eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 French Open champion, lined up to face reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in the third round. To set that date, Kuznetsova, who has a first round bye, will have to go through either Julia Goerges or Catherine Bellis. Ostapenko opens against a qualifier and would have to play either another qualifier or Caroline Garcia to set the third round clash with Kuznetsova.