During the first two weeks of August, both the WTA Tour and ATP Tour, compete in North America for back-to-back competitions involving the very best players in the world. The first tournament is held in Canada, with the two tours alternating venue each year between Montreal and Toronto, with the second being hosted at the same venue in Cincinnati during the following week. During this blog, I am going to review the WTA’s Premier 5 events from North America, with the ATP Masters events being reviewed in the next post. First of all the players on the WTA Tour headed towards Montreal to compete in the Coupe Rogers presentee par Banque Nationale.
Defending champion Serena Williams arrived in Canada as the tournament favourite, despite her recent health problems that occurred during Wimbledon, but she had a tough draw on paper.
She was due to face home favourite Eugenie Bouchard in the Quarter-finals but the young Canadian failed to register a win in the tournament with Shelby Rogers stunning the crowd by registering a 3 set win. British hope had an extended run in the competition with Heather Watson reaching the 3rd round after beating 10th seed Dominika Cibulkova, before going out to Victoria Azarenka. Watson was joined exiting the draw by Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who was beaten in three sets by Ekaterina Makarova who continued her impressive run into the semi-finals, where she was due to face Agnieszka Radwanska who had come through a tough draw to reach the final 4.
The other semi-final was a battle of the sisters, with Serena and Venus Williams renewing their old sibling rivalry.
Serena had come through her tough draw as expected but Venus had rolled back the years to reach the semis. Serena took the first set in a tie-break and it was tough to see Venus battling back from a tight set. She responded by dominating the second set, winning it 6-2 before winning an edgy final set to reach her first final in Canada, in surprisingly her first ever appearance in the country! Radwanska came through the other semi-final in two tie-breaks to face Venus in their first meeting since 2012.
In the final, Radwanska claimed her second title of the year, winning the Rogers Cup 6-4 6-2 against a tired looking Venus. The first set was a tight affair but the Pole took full advantage in the second, to win one of the biggest titles in her career.
It was a strong performance from Venus throughout, who truly rolled back the years to finish as the 2014 runner-up. Montreal had thrown up many surprises, but could Cincinnati match it?
The 2013 Western & Southern Open champion Victoria Azarenka had been struggling with injury problems all year, and had aggravated it again in Montreal, so there was little surprise when she announced that she had pulled out of the Cincinnati event. French Open finalist Simona Halep was playing at her first event since her triumph at the Bucharest Open, and after receiving a bye into round 2, beat Kirsten Flipkens to open her Cincinnati account. Bouchard and Kvitova failed to join the Romanian in the third round as they both exited to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elina Svitolina respectively, meaning that 6 out of the top 8 seeds had made it through their opening match. Ukrainian Svitolina continued her impressive run at a Premier 5 event by beating Carla Suarez-Navarro, before being defeated by Ivanovic in the Quarter-Finals. Joining Ivanovic in the semi-finals was 2011 champion Maria Sharapova, who had come through a tough draw to be able to face Ivanovic in the semis. The Montreal champion, Aga Radwanska, had come through her opening few rounds before she was defeated in the Quarters by Caroline Wozniacki, who was due to face the back to form Serena Williams in the other semi-final, with the American having not dropped a set on her way to meeting the Dane.
Serena’s run of not dropping a set was stopped by Wozniacki, who started the brighter to take the first set of their semi-final 6-2. Serena responded in her typical fashion, by winning the second set, by an identical 6-2 scoreline. The third set could have gone either way but it was the top seed that held her nerve, completing the victory by wrapping up a 6-4 third set.
In the second semi-final, Ivanovic led by a set and a 4-0 lead in the second before Sharapova stunned the Serb, by equalling the match up at 1 set each, by taking it 7-5. The third set was as topsy-turvy as I’ve ever seen with each player exchanging breaks before Ivanovic broke a final time to complete the fine victory in just under 3 hours.
In the final, Ivanovic appeared to be slightly tired from her late semi-final victory, but take nothing away from Serena, who played superbly to win her first Cincinnati title, and extend her head-to-head against Ivanovic to 7-1. The first set was competitive with Serena winning it 6-4 before she ran away with the match by winning the second 6-1.
This tournament has seen Serena return to her best form, which is very important if she is going to get over her failures at this year’s Grand Slams. Ivanovic has quickly got over her Montreal disappointment, by reaching this final and defeating Sharapova along the way.
With both these Premier 5 events over, the top players have had their chance to gain some match time for the upcoming US Open, and earn any potential momentum which they could carry over to the last slam of the year. There is however, another chance for some players to gain some sort of advantage, with the New Haven tournament being played during the upcoming week, featuring Halep, Kvitova and Bouchard.
With the US Open fast approaching, I will be posting a preview of it when the draw is released. Keep a look out for that!
Thanks for taking the time to read my review of the North American Premier 5 events, I hoped you enjoyed it. For any questions or queries on this blog, or other blogs, either contact me on my twitter handle – @Tennis17MAD or via email at – firstname.lastname@example.org