One guy's prediction from Tennis.com:
CONCRETE ELBOW by Steve Tignor
Out of Chaos . . . Order?
Serena, Petra, Kim, Maria, Vera, Francesca, Li, Vika, and Caroline (can’t forget Caroline): I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that this is the WTA tournament we’ve been waiting to see for the last year. It took eight months and three majors, but pretty much everyone is present and accounted for in Toronto. Not that anything has changed much thus far; chaos was in the air on Monday, as seeds like Jankovic, Pavlyuchenkova, and Kuznetsova all dropped. But in the end the Rogers Cup should help us start to sort out a new order in women’s tennis. How long can the old guard beat back the new? Are the summer’s breakout stories, Li and Kvitova, here to stay, or soon to go? Is Serena really all the way back already, or is she more vulnerable than we think? Who’s in pole position for the U.S. Open? Can anyone sustain a run of longer than a tournament or two?
We’ll get some answers this week. Before any more chaos ensues on Tuesday, let’s see how those answers might shake out. And while I'm putting names into semifinals slots here, it feels like this tournament could go a hundred different ways.
We seem to say it every tournament: This is a big week for Caroline Wozniacki. But nothing really changes. She loses at the majors yet does enough to retain her No. 1 status, even as the tour’s focus shifts to other players. But this time it feels a little different for her. Where most events this season have been seen as opportunities for Wozniacki to build her confidence and prove herself worthy of her ranking, this week in Toronto is the opposite: It’s a chance for her to stop any negative momentum from her two recent bad Slam losses and make sure she doesn’t even farther out of the top-player picture as she heads for the next major. Wozniacki could use a confidence boost against strong competition.
Her competition likely won’t make it easy. She could get Yanina Wickmayer in her opener; the woman who beat her at Wimbledon, Dominika Cibulkova, in the next round; and, possibly, her tormentor at the Aussie Open, Li Na, after that.
Also here: Sam Stosur and Ana Ivanovic, who had a successful semifinal run with new coach Nigel Sears last week in San Diego. Maybe he can actually make a difference: Every time I saw him walk on court to give her advice, she thrived.
The WTA threw us one more curveball last week, when Vera Zvonareva, U.S. Open finalist in 2010 but the tour’s biggest and most perplexing disappointment of 2011, turned things around again and reached the final in San Diego. Is Vera for real? Last time I started to believe, she took a major nosedive. But it is good to have her back in the mix for the moment.
It’s also good to have another woman in this section, Petra Kvitova, back in he mix. The Wimbledon champion makes her hard-court summer debut in Toronto. She’ll look to pick up where she left off against the likes of Petkovic, Errani, and Arn. I’m guessing Kvitova will show some rust and have to survive a scare, but that she’ll handle the early rounds.
Also here is Agnieszka Radwanska, who threw her own curveball in San Diego by beating Petkovic and Zvonareva and winning her first tournament in more than three years. For some reason, if they face each other again in Toronto, I see Vera turning the tables.
Here’s an interesting quarter that took a turn for the strange yesterday when one of its contenders, Marion Bartoli, who had playing very well of late, was stunned in the first round by a qualifier, Galina Voskoboeva. That leaves the two top seeds, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, with slightly easier paths to a quarterfinal showdown.
What will Sharapova’s state of mind be coming here? Even after her Wimbledon success, she has to be somewhat shaken by the ease and manner in which she lost to Serena Williams in Stanford two weeks ago. Not only did Sharapova serve poorly, she played with the shank-producing nerves of a teenager. Jovanovski, Dokic Pennetta, Kirilenko, and Voskoboeva: Can any of her neighbors in the draw take advantage of a lingering lack of confidence?
And what about Azarenka? This would also seem to be an ideal place for her. She has had her best success at hard-court premier tournaments in the U.S.; she's coming off a Wimbledon success of her own, having reached the semifinals, and her draw is manageable—Martinez Sanchez, Hantuchova, and Dulko are in her vicinity. (Actually, those are quality players, so maybe delete the “eminently.”) This does seem like Azarenka's quarter to lose, though. Then again, I thought something similar in Stanford two weeks ago, and she did lose, early.
So where is Serena, and where is Kim, you ask? That’s right, they’re in the same quarter. In fact, they’re in the same half of the same quarter, and could play each other in the third round. We saw what Serena is capable of when she won Stanford; now it’s Kim’s turn to shake off the rust. She didn’t have much success in that regard at the French Open, so it’s hard to expect much from her here, either. But this is still her time of year, it’s still her surface, and she still holds two of the four Grand Slam titles. While Serena has had her vulnerable moments—she was outplayed for nearly a set by Bartoli in Stanford—I still think she gets past Goerges in the second round, gets up for Kim in the third, and keeps it up from there.
Semifinals: Kvitova d. Cibulkova; Williams d. Azarenka
Final: Williams d. Kvitova
(I agree with everything but the last line.)