Weekly Roundup: Rogers Cup

ATP

Novak Djokovic sealed his second Masters 1000 title of the year by defeating Frenchman Richard Gasquet in straight sets. After facing break points in his first service game that were not taken, he took control breaking Gasquet on all three occasions he had a break point. Djokovic was dominant on serve throughout and dropped just eight points on his serve on the way to a 6-3 6-2 victory. This win means that Djokovic does not suffer any points hit as he defends the title that he took in 2011 where he beat Mardy Fish. Djokovic only dropped one set on his way to the title here, in the quarter finals against Germany’s Tommy Haas.

Second seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan carried on their excellent form picking up the Doubles title just a week after doing the same at the Olympics. The brothers dropped just one set on their way to the trophy, as they defeated Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers 6-1 4-6 12-10 to make it five titles on the year.

Source: Rogers Cup Facebook

WTA

Petra Kvitova finally took her first title of the year in Montreal in an enthralling encounter with Na Li, defeating the Chinese star 7-5 2-6 6-3. Kvitova had gone down an early break in the first before reeling off four games in a row to serve for the first set. She could not do so and was pegged back to 5-5. Li eventually buckled under the pressure of serving to stay in the set as Kvitova broke in the twelfth game of the set to take the first. With the set in Kvitova’s pocket, one would expect that she had the momentum but that was not to be the case with the Czech dropping the first SIXTEEN points of the set to quickly drop into a 0-4 hole. Kvitova recovered slightly but Li eventually took the set 6-2. Kvitova’s serve reappeared in the third set as she was never in danger and after breaking for a 4-2 lead never looked back sealing the third set and with it, the championship and 900 WTA ranking points.

The Doubles title was taken by the surprise package of Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Kristina Mladenovic. The pair defeated their more storied counterparts Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik in a tight encounter 7-5 2-6 10-7. The title is their first as a team and Mladenovic’s first on the WTA Tour.

Advertisements

WTA Montreal – Rogers Cup Preview

Draw

Tamira Paszek or Julia Goerges drew the short straw with the winner going on to face the No.1 Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka started the season off 26-0 on hard courts and was defeated just once (Marion Bartoli, Miami) after picking up four straight titles including the Australian Open. Despite an embarrassing defeat to Serena Williams in the tennis, she will be full of confidence having earned the bronze medal in Singles to go with her Mixed Doubles title with Max Mirnyi. Azarenka made the semi final last year where she was defeated by Serena Williams and will be happy that the American has skipped the tournament this year. If fully fit, she will be a huge threat for the title here but has the tougher half of the draw. Sabine Lisicki is a potential third round opponent but her inconsistencies have been shown all season, including a shocking defeat to Lourdes Dominguez-Lino on the hard courts of Miami. Her grass court form has improved though, and she should have too much for Carla Suarez Navarro or Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez. Navarro leads the head to head between the Spaniards 3-1.

Azarenka’s quarter also contains the only player to defeat her on hard courts this year in Marion Bartoli. Bartoli has been fairly inconsistent this year and is yet to take a title this year but in her last outing made the final in Carlsbad where she was defeated in straight sets by Dominika Cibulkova. Her first opponent will be either Shuai Peng or Aravane Rezai, the latter of which has finally shown some sort of form recently. The former No.15 qualified for the tournament after defeating Galina Voskoboeva in three sets and will hope to build on last weeks result at the Citi Open where she made the second round as a qualifier. While Petra Kvitova is notoriously poor on North American courts having not got past the third round on any in the last two years, it gives slight hope to Ksenia Pervak or qualifier Anna Tatishvili.

Maria Sharapova will be hoping for a quick return to form having been annihilated by Serena Williams in her last match in the Olympic Final. Potential round two opponent Arantxa Rus has very little hard court experience and qualified in a long match against Vera Dushevina. More likely though is Christina Mchale, the American has big potential and owns victories over Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova and Marion Bartoli in North America. In probably her last week as a seed at big tournaments before her Cincinnati points come off, Jelena Jankovic will hope to go far. Jankovic is unbeaten against four encounters against wildcard Aleksandra Wozniak while other potential opponent Daniela Hantuchova showed improvements in London as she took out Na Li in a three set encounter.

The top half of the draw is rounded off with Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane has not took one title this year and dropped out of the top five after starting the season as No.1 in the WTA rankings. Qualifier Kiki Bertens is yet to play a main tour match on hard court this year but does possess one more title than Wozniacki on the year, having taken Fes as a qualifier also. More likely though is that she will face Nadia Petrova. Wozniacki has won their last four encounters but Petrova is in much improved form over the past two months and should really have done better against Dominika Cibulkova in Carlsbad having been in a great position to take the first set of their semi final on a number of occasions. Cibulkova is a potential third round opponent who could cause trouble for Wozniacki, having taken two of their last four matches including Wimbledon 2011. She faces either Varvara Lepchenko or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Pavlyuchenkova was a finalist in Washington D.C. last week but took just two games in a lopsided final against Magdalena Rybarikova while Lepchenko exited early in the Olympics and was also took to three sets by an opponent whose only grass court experience was a 2012 Wimbledon qualifier.

On paper,Agnieszka Radwanska again seems to be the recipient of a softer draw, with the other side looks decidedly more stacked than this side. Two of the youngest top 100 players battle it out for the chance to play the Pole. Monterrey champion Timea Babos qualified after getting through two three set matches and has shown glimpses of her talent throughout the year while Mona Barthel has been decidedly shaky after her good start to the year where she twice threatened the unbeaten streak of Victoria Azarenka. Fourteenth seed Flavia Pennetta has lost her last three encounters with Radwanska but should have a chance to try and turn her luck around as Chanelle Scheepers has been fairly disappointing recently while Stephanie Dubois was a recent retiree in the Granby Challenger final so injury questions may hang over the wildcards fitness.

Sara Errani is the surprise eighth seed thanks to her clay court exploits but when it comes hard courts it is somewhat of a false ranking. She has suffered disappointing defeats to the likes of Vania King, Sloane Stephens and Timea Babos earlier in the year in North America. Sofia Arvidsson is already a winner this year having taken the Memphis title and takes on the qualifier Jana Cepelova first. Cepelova is fairly new to the tour but gave a good account of herself at Wimbledon when she made the third round and was defeated 6-3 6-3 by Victoria Azarenka.

Another highly touted youngster follows in Eugenie Bouchard, the young Canadian wildcard has had a great month or so, taking the Wimbledon Girls’ title and also an ITF in Granby. She has an extremely winnable match as she takes on Shahar Pe’er. Pe’er has had a fairly quiet year and failed to get past the third round at any tournament this year. The winner will face Na Li in the second round. Although Li has not took a title this year, most of her defeats have not been surprising having been taken out by Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska amongst others.

Another player glad to get off the grass will be Samantha Stosur. The Aussie yet again had a horror grass season, excelling herself this time by getting defeated by Carla Suarez Navarro in London. Michelle Larcher de Brito takes on Simona Halep for the chance to take on Stosur. Larcher de Brito has been impressive in qualifying for the past three WTA events but fell at the first hurdle in three set encounters both times. Meanwhile, Halep is on a five match losing streak and could be there for the taking. Lucie Safarova has had an up and down season but most recently there has only been negatives as she we nt down in straights to Kiki Bertens and Laura Robson on the Wimbledon grass. She can redeem herself when she takes on either Sorana Cirstea or qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva. Cirstea looked excellent in Stanford before one Serena Williams halted her charge while Karatantcheva did not drop more than three games in any set that she played on her way to qualifying.

Angelique Kerber rounds of the top seeds in the draw and first up is either Ekaterina Makarova or “Lucky Loser” Urszula Radwanska. Kerber has found a whole new consistency in the past year since her shock US Open run and has two titles to show for her efforts. Much like Na Li, a lot of Kerber’s defeats are against the top players and she rarely suffers shocks. Urszula Radwanska made the draw as the highest ranked seed not to qualify directly, after a suspect defeat to Anna Tatishvili. Recently, she was notable for taking the most games off Serena Williams in her amazing Olympic win. Ekaterina Makarova will be hoping for third time lucky if she makes it through to the second round – her last two defeats have been to Angelique Kerber. Ana Ivanovic will be hoping to avoid Roberta Vinci in the second round. The Italian defeated her in the same tournament last year in straight sets but first faces Yanina Wickmayer.

Finals PredictionAgnieszka Radwanska defeats Maria Sharapova in three sets

WTA Baku Review

Bojana Jovanovski took the first WTA title of her career with a 6-3 6-1 victory in Baku defeating the American Julie Cohen. Jovanovski was broken just once in the whole match and broke Cohen’s serve five times on the way to victory to become the first Serbian to win a title this year. 

While Cohen will be disappointed to have gone down so easily in the final, it has been a great week for her. Julia Cohen’s hefty schedule has finally paid dividends with this final moving her into the top 100 for the first time. Her defensive style may not have been pleasing on the eye to some but it has been incredibly effective here.

No.4 seeds Irina Buryachok and Valerie Solovieva became the eighth doubles team of the year to win their first tournament together with a 6-3 6-2 win over the Czech/Italian pairing over Eva Birnerova and Alberta Brianti. The pairing dropped just sixteen games over the four matches where they did not drop a set.

Citi Open Preview – ATP 500/WTA International

While the majority of the top players are off in London taking part in the Olympic Games, the tour continues to roll on with one tournament this week – The Citi Open. The Citi Open is a joint tournament based in Washington D.C., formerly known as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic on the Men’s side while the Women’s tournament is only in it’s second year.

(click for draw)

ATP 500

While not at the usual standard of a 500 points tournament, there is still a fairly strong field on the men’s side. Mardy Fish, who chose not to play in the Olympics, leads the field while fallouts with their tennis federations meant Alexandr Dolgopolov and Kevin Anderson meant that neither man was available for the Olympics. The French and Germans are also represented well here, with Jeremy Chardy and Tommy Haas the best chances of a title here for the respective nations.

Favourite – Seeing as he withdrew from the Olympics in order to concentrate on defending points he picked up in the 2011 hard court swing, it is very likely that Mardy Fish will have his mind fully focused on the tournament here. He missed out last year here due to injury, but had he played he would have been expected to make the third final in three weeks due to the form he was in. There is no doubting his hard court credentials and he had an impressive 29-11 record last year. The only thing to look out for is the potential ankle injury he may have, which forced his retirement against Gilles Muller and stopped him from defending his Atlanta title.

Outsider – No.4 seed Tommy Haas has continued his great run of form by making the Hamburg final a few weeks back, where he was defeated by Juan Monaco in straight sets. The 34 year old has continued to amaze by competing so well at this level since his return from injury over a year ago. The disappointment of missing out on the Olympics (German Olympic Committee refused to support him, a decision made to look even sillier with Philipp Kohlschreiber’s late withdrawal) will serve as top motivation to do well here. Before his injury, the majority of Haas’s titles were during the US Hard Court seasons so it is obvious that he still favours this type of surface.

One To Watch –  Wildcard Ricardas Berankis is another player who has returned to form (though not quite to the extent of Haas above) after a sizable amount of time out with injury. The Lithuania dropped just one set on his run to the Final in Los Angeles (1st qualifying round, 5-7 to Dennis Lajola), looking impressive in victories against the likes of Nicolas Mahut and Marinko Matosevic. He did not face a break point in his match against the latter and looked utterly dominant on serve for most of the week. While he was embarrassed in the final by Sam Querrey, only picking up two games, it had been a great week for him and much better than what he would have expected. Berankis favoured surface is the hard court and he had also made the final of a Challenger in Winnetka at the start of this month.

Did You Know…?

Only four players have won a singles title in the draw this year, Sam Querrey, Pablo Andujar, Tommy Haas and Kevin Anderson.

Of the 12 finalists in Washington last year (8x doubles, 4x singles), only losing Women’s doubles finalists Olga Govortsova and Alla Kudryavtseva will be attending this year. 

Final Prediction – Mardy Fish defeats Sam Querrey in three sets

WTA International

While the tournament is weakened slightly, the Women’s side of the Citi Open does not suffer as much due to the lower tournament level. Many of the seeds would have qualified for the Olympics if not due to competitor limits while Chanelle Scheepers (much like Kevin Anderson in the Men’s tournament) did not enter due to her disagreements with the South African tennis authorities.

Favourite – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia is the No.1 seed here and suffers from being from a strong tennis country in that she fails to make the tournament despite being in the top 30 currently. After a 25-13 record (w/ Monterrey title) on the hard courts last year, Pavlyuchenkova has struggled to build on that only going 2-7 so far this year. She will be hoping for better in the run up to the US Open, where she made the quarter finals and was defeated by Serena Williams. In the past year Pavyluchenkova has had issues with her service motion and this could be her downfall. Another issue is that many of her recent defeats have been in matches she should be expected to win and that perhaps she does not deal well with the tag of “favourite”.

Outsider – The highly rated Sloane Stephens is yet to win a tournament in her WTA career, but for someone of her talent it cannot be much longer. Sloane is only one of a few teenagers around the top 60 at present, where a lot of that can be put down to her appearances in slams. Stephens impressed at Wimbledon and Roland Garros, being defeated by Sabine Lisicki and Samantha Stosur respectively but had great chances in both. While there are no complaints with her performances in the bigger tournaments, defeats like those she has suffered since Wimbledon are incredibly disappointing – losing from 6-1 4-1 up against Melanie Oudin and losing in three sets to Heather Watson. If she can convert her form in slams to the International tournaments there is no reason why she cannot go deep here.

One To Watch – As a relative unknown at Wimbledon Camila Giorgi impressed the tennis world with a handy run defeating both Flavia Pennetta and Nadia Petrova (2011 Citi Open champion). The Italian has an aggressive style of play and when on form is hard to deal with. Much like many other young stars, inconsistency is a big issue. Great results like those at Wimbledon are combined with disappointing defeats in matches she is highly favoured to win. There is no doubting her talent though, and if she can get it together there is definitely potential to spring a shock or two.

Did You Know…?

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is a multiple junior grand slam champion having won the Girls Singles at the Australian Open and US Open

None of the seeds have a Singles title this year, though unseeded players Melanie Oudin and Bojana Jovanovski do.
Finals Prediction – Sloane Stephens defeats Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets

Weekly Roundup: WTA Winners

Carlsbad

Marion Bartoli suffered disappointment once more as she was defeated by Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets 6-1 7-5. The Frenchwoman could not get going to start with and was swept off the court, winning just one game in the first set as Cibulkova just had too much power. After a long service game early in the second Bartoli finally broke and it looked like a third set was certain when Bartoli stormed into a *4-1 lead. However, Bartoli faltered losing the next 4 games meaning she had to serve to stay in the match. At the first time of asking, she managed to do so. When Cibulkova posed the question the second time by taking a 6-5* lead, Bartoli was unable to hold and dropped her serve to love to give Cibulkova just her second WTA Tour Title. Also of note was at one stage, Cibulkova was called for a hindrance after her trademark “Pome!” was shouted too early in a point – she thought it had hit the net but a “lucky” netcord meant it stayed in play but the point was lost anyway.

American pairing Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops-Jones took the Doubles final in surprisingly easy fashion, defeating Vania King and Nadia Petrova 6-2 6-4 for their third title as a team. It is likely that Petrova was still feeling the ill effects she had been showing in the Singles semi-final that eventual winner Dominika Cibulkova had beat her in.

Source: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Bastad

Polona Hercog defended her 2011 title with a three set victory over the Swedish-born Mathilde Johansson 0-6 6-4 7-5. Johansson stormed through the first set and looked ominous as she didn’t drop one game on her way to winning the set. Unfortunately, nerves kicked in and the double faults begin to rack up for Johansson. The match looked all but over when Hercog took a 5-1 lead in the third set and had a match point, Johansson saved this and tied the game up at 5-all only to drop her serve once more and there was no slip up from the Slovenian who served it out with little trouble the second time round.

The doubles title was taken by Colombians Catalina Castano and new Olympic hopeful Mariana Duque-Marino, the pair dropped just one set on their way to victory in Sweden – the first in this match. The pair came back from losing the first 4-6 to take the match into a third set tiebreaker which they won fairly easily for a 4-6 7-5 10-5 victory and their first doubles title.

Source: Bjorn Larsson Rosvall/AFP/Getty Images

WTA Baku Preview

Baku (International)

With the Olympics up next week, the Baku Cup is suffering from a depleted field with no seed inside the top 50 and two outside the top 100  and a last direct acceptance of the world ranked 200 player Olga Savchuk. It will be a blow for the newly formed tournament with last year’s winner Vera Zvonareva unable to compete although losing finalist Ksenia Pervak will compete as No.1 seed.

Favourite – With such a weak field it is hard to pick a stand out favourite, but Ksenia Pervak certainly makes a case having made the final here last year. She is probably the best player in the field as it is and her hard court form earlier in the year was fairly decent, with most of her defeats being in matches she had been expected to lose anyway, making the third round in Doha, Miami and Indian Wells. Along with the final here, she also made the final and won in the other Eurasian event in Tashkent without dropping a set.

Outsider – Talented but inconsistent, Bojana Jovanovski could go well here, the Serb is No.5 seed here and benefits from the being in the weaker side of the draw. She has shown glimpses of her talent on a regular occasion, most recently against Wimbledon quarter-finalist Sabine Lisicki who she took to three sets and could well have won. Panova and Bratchikova in her half are nothing special while perhaps the biggest threat in her draw Andrea Hlavackova has the Olympics on her mind and surely her thoughts will be elsewhere halfway through the week.

One To Watch – Twice a Junior grand slam finalist (W French Open 2010, F Wimbledon 2012), Elena Svitolina finally takes her first steps on to the main tour here in Azerbaijan. While clay appears to be her favoured surface, her form on the ITF Circuit last year was impressive on hard courts having took titles in Nigeria and Turkey and also making a final in a Russian 50k. She comes off a good run at Wimbledon where she was defeated in the Girls Final by Eugenie Bouchard.

Did You Know…?

Of the seeds, only Ksenia Pervak possesses a WTA Tour singles title. (Tashkent 2011)

Against the seeds she has faced (Minella, Panova, Jovanovski, Bratchikova), Akgul Amanmuradova does not have a losing record. 

There is a 20 year difference in age between the youngest and oldest competitors in Baku – Varvara Flink at 15 and Tamarine Tanasugarn at 35.

Finals Prediction – Pervak to beat Jovanovski in 3 sets

The new Centre Court in Baku

Weekly Roundup: This Week’s ATP/WTA Winners

ATP Tour

Bastad

David Ferrer extended his winning record over Nicolas Almagro to 11-0 with an easy straight sets victory 6-2 6-2. Ferrer only faced one break point through out the whole match and was always in control breaking Almagro twice in each set including the final game of the match. In the doubles Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau eased a little bit of the heartbreak of losing another Wimbledon final by taking the title, defeating second seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 6-3 7-6(5).

AFP/Getty Images

Stuttgart

Janko Tipsarevic picked up his first title of the year with a far from straight forward victory over Juan Monaco in Stuttgart. The Serbian failed to take a break point for a 6-4 5-0 and was consequently pegged back to 4-4. Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Tipsarevic made silly errors gifting the set away. With all the momentum seemingly in the Argentinian’s favour, Tipsarevic broke three times in the third set to take the match 6-4 5-7 6-3. The Doubles title was taken by Jeremy Chardy and Lukasz Kubot who convincingly beat Michael Mertinak and Andre Sa 6-1 6-3.

AFP/Getty Images

Umag

Marin Cilic defeated Marcel Granollers in straight sets to make up for his 2011 final defeat. Cilic came back from a 4-2 deficit in the first set, reeling off four games in a row to take the set. A break early in the second saw Cilic take control and despite a minor blip in failing to serve the match out at 5-1, he broke back straight away winning in 92 minutes 6-4 6-2. Granollers didn’t fare much better as an all Spanish final in the doubles saw David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco defeat Granollers and Marc Lopez 6-3 7-6(4).

AFP/Getty Images

Newport

Another dominant serving display saw John Isner defend his Newport title beating Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(1) 6-4. The first set saw no breaks of serve, and after that Isner took control in the tiebreak dropping just one point. An early break at 1-1 in the second was enough for Isner to hold on to for the remainder of the match, with his 16 aces certainly a big help. Santiago Gonzalez  and Scott Lipsky  took the doubles title with a 7-6(3) 6-3 victory over Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchings, breaking in the vital eighth game of the second set to earn the opportunity to serve it out which they did to 30.

via @TennisHalloFame twitter

WTA Tour

Palermo

Sara Errani took yet another WTA International title with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Barbara Zahlavova Strycova. An excellent performance from Errani in the 25 minute first set saw Errani drop just 1 game and break her opponent twice while managing a  96% first serve percentage (24/25) facing zero break points. The second set was slightly tougher as Errani dropped two service games but was never in danger of losing the set, sealing the victory by passing a helpless Strycova at the net. Strycova fared much better in the Doubles taking the title alongside partner Renata Voracova with a 7-6(5) 6-4 victory over Darija Jurak and Katalin Marosi.

Stanford

Serena Williams fought off a spirited Coco Vandeweghe to win the Stanford final 7-5 6-3 for the second time in a row. Williams was *3-5 0-30 down before taking the first set and fought off a set point to win the first despite an unconvincing performance in the set. Williams took full control in the fourth game of the second set breaking to love. At 4-1 30-0 on Vandeweghe’s serve, the potential for a breadstick was looming but she held on and forced Serena to serve for the match at 5-3 which she did to 15, finishing off  with a forehand down the line. In the Doubles Jarmila Gajdosova and Vania King suffered defeat to Marina Erakovic and Heather Watson 5-7  (7) 6-7. The pair came from a break down in the first set and saved set points in the second to win in straights.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

July 16th-22nd WTA Previews

Unlike the ATP Tour, the WTA has a slightly less packed schedule with again only the two tournaments this week. The clay courters move on from Palermo to Bastad while the North American hard court swing carries on with the players taking their talents to Carlsbad, San Diego.

Carlsbad (Premier)

Much like Stanford last week, Carlsbad has suffered in terms of the lineup due to the inconvenience placing the tournament between Wimbledon and the Olympics. Last year the tournament featured 16 seeds, of which the lowest was ranked 39 but this year the eighth seed ranks at 42! Marion Bartoli and Dominika Cibulkova head a field which has been weakened by the withdrawals of Svetlana Kuznetsova, Sabine Lisicki and Angelique Kerber. Bojana Jovanovski will not be competing this year but famously arrived at the wrong Carlsbad last year in the buildup to her first round match.

Favourite – Top seed Marion Bartoli will be hoping to make up for her disappointing performance at Stanford last week with a title in Carlsbad. Bartoli has always performed reasonably well on North American hard courts, having made two finals last year at Stanford and Indian Wells, but losing to Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki respectively. The Frenchwoman has the chance to gain revenge over her conqueror Yanina Wickmayer in a potential quarter final match.

Outsider – Nadia Petrova appears to be having somewhat of a career revival over the past few months. She earned the title in S’hertogenbosch defeating Urszula Radwanska to jump back into the top 20 for the first time in over a year. Hard courts should suit the former US Open quarter-finalist’s big serve and with a lack of outstanding candidates in the field the winner could be someone that can remain more consistent.

One To Watch – Coco Vandeweghe is hot off a Final appearance in Stanford having given Serena Williams an almighty scare before collapsing after having had a set point. She can cause big trouble with her serve as shown by her ace count throughout the week though the quality can be inconsistent. She will face Chanelle Scheepers in the first round who was also beaten by Serena last week.

Did You Know…?

Christina Mchale (5th seed, WTA Rank 28) is the highest ranked player without a WTA title to their name.

The draw contains three of the four youngest players in the top 100. If Camila Giorgi had qualified (lost 1st round qualifier), it would have made it four of five.

Bastad (International)

Favourite – As usual when it comes to lesser WTA tournaments on the dirt, Sara Errani is the obvious pick. The French Open runner-up added the Palermo title to her collection this year after defeating Barbara Zahlavova Strycova in the final and will be confident 0f doing the same again this week as No. 1 seed to make it 5 clay titles on the year.

Outsider – Handed a wildcard by the organisers here, Laura Robson will be hoping to build on her surprising semi-final appearance in Palermo last week. The left-handed put in some impressive displays last week on what many expect is her worst surface. If it wasn’t for a complete serving meltdown in the semi-final, where she served 18 double faults, we would be talking about Britain’s first finalist for a long time. If she can cut out the service errors, she has potential to go far again. The serve when it lands in, and her lefty forehand are two huge weapons that can do damage to a lot of players here.

One To Watch – Kiki Bertens has shot up the rankings this year, to a current high of No. 72.  As a qualifier, she won Fes defeating Laura Pous-Tio in the final. Her good form continued afterwards, qualifying for the French Open and taking Christina Mchale to 3 sets. Her most impressive win to date this year would be against Lucie Safarova at Wimbledon where she won surprisingly easy in straight sets 6-3 6-0. She has drawn the slumping Mona Barthel in the first round.

Did You Know…?

Sara Errani has dropped just two sets in her four WTA International tournament wins (Pennetta, Acapulco final and Czink, Budapest 2nd Round)

Eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro is the only seeded player not to have won a title having gone 0-3 in clay finals.

Coco Vandeweghe reaches first WTA Tour final

Coco Vandeweghe became the first lucky loser to make a WTA Tour final in seven years with a three set victory over Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer in the Bank of The West Classic, 6-2 3-6 6-2. The American was thankful for a number of opportune double faults from her opponent, namely to give her the first break in the third set and also on match point.

Coco has only dropped one set on her way to the final, defeating Melinda Czink (coincidentally, the last lucky loser to make a WTA Tour final), Jelena Jankovic and Urszula Radwanska all impressively in straight sets. This level of performance is far beyond what would have been expected from Vandeweghe at the start of the week, having suffered a disappointing defeat to Junior Wimbledon champ Noppawan Lertcheewakarn in the final round of qualifiers.

While Vandeweghe’s serving stats are erratic, with a first serve percentage of under 50% a regular occurrence throughout the week, there is no doubt that her first serve is one of her biggest weapons and it showed today with a huge 12 aces, including 6 in the final set. Wickmayer also failed to win a point on any of the 9 first serves were made in the set.

Vandeweghe will be a huge underdog in the final, be it against Sorana Cirstea or Serena Williams, but there is no doubt this has been a huge week for her. This week’s showing moves her up to No.69 in the rankings and earned her a wildcard into next week’s Mercury Insurance Open.

July 9th-16th Previews

With Wimbledon over, the ATP and WTA tours have a hefty schedule this week with six tournaments over three surfaces and two continents. From the hard courts in Stanford to the clay courts of Umag and Palermo and even the continuation of the Grass season in Newport, there is plenty to look forward to this week.

(Click titles for draw)

ATP Tour

Newport – 250

Often seen as an afterthought in the short grass season, Newport was always likely to generate more interest this year with the chance to provide extra practice for the Olympic Games. Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and John Isner top a fairly strong field.

Favourite – With John Isner’s decidedly dicey form over the last few months, it is fair to say that Milos Raonic is the favourite to win the tournament. Raonic is topping many of the service stats on the tour this year and the surface will suit the young Canadian’s game.

Outsider – Showing signs of the form before his injury is Sam Querrey, the former finalist is unseeded here but can go far – he is in what many would perceive to be the favourable side of the draw away from John Isner, Milos Raonic and Gilles Muller.

One to Watch – Another returning from injury is US Open Mixed Doubles Champion Jack Sock, the 19 year-old has been handed a wildcard and will face Igor Kunitsyn in the first round.

Bastad – 250

With two other European clay tournaments to compete with, Bastad looks to have suffered the most competition wise with 8th seed Ungur being ranked only 81st, however David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro ensure there is some top level quality at the Swedish tournament. The currently inactive Robin Soderling is unable to defend his crown here.

Favourite – Arguably one of the best clay courters outside of his fellow countryman Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer looks certain to take this, he possesses a 10-0 head to head record over Nicolas Almagro.

Outsider – Grigor Dimitrov is another who has promised so much in his early years but as of yet has failed to deliver. A generous draw could see him making the Semi-Finals here where he would expect to face No.1 seed David Ferrer.

One to Watch – Tommy Robredo is back after a long spell out with injury, and full of confidence after taking Milan challenger a few weeks ago. However, he did withdraw from Braunschweig last week but hopefully it was just for precautionary measures than anything serious.

Stuttgart – 250

Stuttgart possesses a slightly stronger field led by the likes of Janko Tipsarevic and Juan Monaco as well as two former top 5 players in Tommy Haas and Nikolay Davydenko.

Favourite – Juan Monaco is another who looks at his best on clay with 2 titles to his name this year and despite not being No.1 seed is in my view the best player in the tournament with a great chance to make it three tournament victories for the year.

Outsider – Tommy Haas has found a new lease of life recently taking the Halle title and beating Roger Federer to go with it. The former World No.2 can definitely still be a threat in a three set format but has not won a clay title since 2004.

One to Watch – It will be interesting to see how Lukas Rosol fares the week after his giant-killing of Rafael Nadal. Many expect to see him revert to the form that sees him around No. 100 in the world but perhaps the victory will give him newly found confidence.

Umag – 250

Perhaps one of the most picturesque stops on the tour, the Croatian town is a favourite for tourists and fans alike. The field is led by Spaniards Fernando VerdascoMarcel Granollers and former World No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero while home hopes will be held by No.2 seed Marin Cilic

Favourite – No.1 seed Fernando Verdasco has gone two years without a title now but has a good chance to end that here. He was unfortunate enough to bump into David Ferrer in his last clay-court final but will not be so unlucky here. The Spaniard has obvious talent as shown by his recent victory over Rafael Nadal but mental issues often hold him back.

Outsider – Carlos Berlocq has shown great improvement over the past year, including reaching a personal high of No.37 in the rankings, only one spot above his current position. A regular winner on the Challenger Tour last year, Berlocq has made the step up and was unfortunate to suffer defeat in his only tour final to date in Vina del Mar.

One to Watch – Aljaz Bedene of Slovakia has been slowly making a name for himself on the Challenger Tour picking up three titles on clay this year but as of yet, has been unable to make the step up to the main tour.

WTA Tour

Stanford (Premier) 

Hosted at the University of Stanford’s tennis complex, the Bank of the West Classic is the oldest women-only event on the tour. The outdoor hard court tournament is also the first tournament in the US Open Series and the field is led by Serena Williams with Jelena Jankovic and Marion Bartoli amongst the big names.

Favourite – If her exploits at Wimbledon do not lead to a withdrawal, then it is incredibly difficult to see past Serena Williams defending her title. She is serving incredibly well and in this form will be hard to break, never mind defeat over a three set match.

Outsider – Marion Bartoli made the final here last year and looks the superior player in the bottom half of the draw. Any slip up from Serena and she will be sure to take advantage.

One to Watch – Nicole Gibbs is a decorated athlete at college level with numerous NCAA awards as well as being the 2012 Womens’ Champion while representing Stanford. She can earn a second round tie with Serena Williams if she defeats Noppawan Lertcheewakarn in the first round here.

 Palermo (International)

New no.2 Agnieszka Radwanska withdrew from Palermo after making the Wimbledon final making Sara Errani the top seed above compatriot Roberta Vinci. Defending champion Anabel Medina Garrigues also appears in the draw and is seeded No. 4.

Favourite – Sara Errani is an excellent clay court player and against all but the elite achieves very good results as shown by picking up tournaments in Barcelona, Budapest and Acapulco before her shock final appearance at Roland Garros.

Outsider – A five time winner of the tournament, it is hard to rule out Anabel Medina Garrigues, results indicate that she enjoys it a lot here and will likely go far again with an expected semi final between herself and Errani where I would think the winner would go on to become champion.

One to Watch – Yulia Putintseva is a promising Kazakh prospect, but will be disappointed at her recent result in nearby Biella where she was disposed of easily by Barbara Zahlavova-Strycova in straight sets. In less recent form, she did pick up an ITF 100k title in May which led her to her highest ranking of 122. If not for the tennis, she will be one to watch here for her famous tantrums!