The opening round of the 2014 Coupe Rogers in Montreal completes today, with Ana Ivanovic, Genie Bouchard, Aga Radwanska and Venus Williams among the players in action at the Uniprix Stadium.
Sabine Lisicki got week 32 of the WTA Tour off to a winning start for us on Monday with a straight sets win over Sara Errani and those on Alizé Cornet would also have been on the winning side.
There was disappointment and no little incredulity later on in the day though when Sloane Stephens came up with one of her handful of good performances of the season to ease past Aleksandra Wozniack.
Tuesday’s schedule sees Williams attempt to win a match at the Canadian Open for the first time in her career and she takes on Nastia Pavlyuchenkova in the opening match of the day on Court Central.
Venus Williams vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Williams first played in this tournament back in 1995 when she lost to Sabine Appelmans and since then she’s been here (or Toronto) only three further times before this week.
Last year in this tournament she won the first set against Kirsten Flipkens 6-0 and went on to lose and for me she’s a little short here, with the layers expecting her to show the same level as last week, which is far from certain.
Her age and poor health make it very tough to produce the same level week in, week out and there’s enough doubt to make me side with Pavs or the overs here at a decent price.
Two inconsistent power hitters are meeting here for the fifth time, with their previous four tied at 2-2, but it’s been four seasons since they last met across the net.
The best bet here seems to be the over 20.5 games, with both players likely to have spells of brilliance and periods where they can’t find the court, with the 2.75 on Pavs also appealing.
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs Madison Keys
It could pay to stick with Keys in this midnight UK time clash with Sveta likely to be struggling for energy after a tournament-winning week and having had only a day here in Montreal to prepare.
Kuznetsova played the Washington DC final on Sunday night and after a tight, emotional three-setter there to land her first title since 2010 the Russian is likely to have a let down very soon.
She’s rarely in the best of physical conditions these days anyway and there are sure to be niggles after that DC run, while Keys’ preparation should have been far smoother.
Keys let me down in the first round to eventual beaten DC finalist Karumi Nara last week and she was rusty there, but she’s been in Montreal for several days now and she should have a big advantage here.
The quick conditions will also suit Keys and providing she doesn’t play like last week she looks a good outsider at 2.43 in this first career meeting with Kuznetsova.
Elsewhere, it could be worth sticking with Cornet against the struggling Vika Azarenka at a tempting 2.95 in the 01:00 UK time start and Shelby Rogers looks too big against seemingly the world’s favourite, Bouchard.
Shelby Rogers vs Eugenie Bouchard
It will be interesting to see how WTA marketing machine Genie copes with a bit of pressure here after her run in majors this season and Rogers will enjoy the role of underdog after good wins over the likes of Cornet, Errani, Camila Giorgi and Carla Suarez Navarro lately.
Bouchard hasn’t played since the Wimbledon semi final loss to Petra Kvitova and withdrew from Washington DC last week with a sore knee, on which she wore strapping in practice against Azarenka on Sunday.
So, we have a rusty and potentially injured 1.24 shot here playing against an opponent in top form and confidence after another good win yesterday against Ajla Tomljanovic.
Shelby likes to hit big, but learned her point construction by playing on clay as a youngster and she has the weapons to cause Bouchard problems here.
The +4.5 game handicap or +1.5 sets on Rogers look the ones to focus on in this 23:00 UK time start.
Back over 20.5 games in Pavlyuchenkova/Williams at 1.80
Back Keys to beat Kuznetsova at 2.43
Back Rogers +1.5 sets to beat Bouchard at 2.04