By Ros Satar

  • Heather Watson v Samantha Stosur [13]
  • Naomi Broady v Monica Puig
  • Caroline Garcia v Barbora Strycova
MONTREAL, CANADA – Hot on the heels of Johanna Konta’s first title win, Heather Watson and Naomi Broady campaigns started in the main draw of the Coupe Rogers.

 

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Heather Watson v Samantha Stosur [13] – Stosur leads 1-0

With the switch around in the draw following World No. 1 Serena Williams’ withdrawal, Watson went from facing Svetlana Kuznetsova to Aussie battler Stosur. We are not entirely convinced that this has helped her cause.

In their only other meeting in the Hong Kong semi-final last October, Watson ripped a set off Stosur before the Aussie fought back for a 4-6 6-4 6-0 win. However the fact that Watson had at least started with some good first strike tennis should give her some confidence coming in to the match up.

Watson freely admitted that in the run up to getting her Olympic confirmation she had been a bundle of nerves in matches, knowing that several people were chasing the initial cut off. Yet she has had some good hard court form this year.

Although she was not able to defend her Hobart title, falling in the quarter final, she picked up her third tour title in Monterrey and made the fourth round in Miami.

Stosur was fair to middling at the start of the hard court season and came in to a her own on the clay but has at least got some match play under her belt already this year with a quarter-final in Washington.

Watson needs to start quickly, play aggressively, and try and stick with Stosur – who will not be afraid to come in and volley. The Brit can switch easily from defence to attack and can run everything down, so if she is on form, we should expect this to be a far more taut three setter than the end of their first encounter.

As always this is winnable for Watson, but with Stosur being just that little bit more match-fit, it could be the Aussie’s day.

Prediction: Stosur in three sets.

 

Naomi Broady [Q]  v Monica Puig

This is a tough one for the Brit, whose own advance up the rankings has seen her hit a career high this year, breaking the Top 100. However, she has had to face the Puerto Rican twice already this year, pushing her hard in Madrid qualies, but having a bad day at the office in Eastbourne.

Hard courts are her best surface and unlike Watson, has already hit the US hard court circuit picking up a couple of rounds in Washington, and coming through a very tough qualifier against Nicole Gibbs, coming from a set down to book her spot in the main draw.

Puig did not fare much better at the Citi Open, so that at least puts them on a level footing for this part of the season. Puig had a great run on the grass and much like Broady plays a powerful attacking game so they look pretty well matched in that respect.

Of the two Brits in play today – maybe Broady has the edge and could just squeak this.

Prediction: Broady in three sets.

 

Caroline Garcia [WC] v Barbora Strycova

Why are two of our favourite head-cases the pick of today’s matches? Because both have shown some pleasing flashes of form throughout the year, and with the levels of feistiness and drama that both Garcia and Strycova can exude, how could you not want to settle down and watch?

Albeit on the dirt, it was a joy to see Garcia finally embrace some of the pressure that comes with playing in a home Slam. She may have gone out in the second round of the singles, but her run to the doubles title with compatriot Kristina Mladenovic not to mention trying to whip up the crowd and play to them showed a new twist to the otherwise at times flaky side to Garcia.

Yet when she is on, she can really turn on the style, and has now can boast a title on clay, grass and hard courts – after winning in Strasbourg earlier this year.

On the other hand it has been a while since Strycova has picked up any hardware on the hard courts, and lost in Dubai pretty resoundingly to Sara Errani for the gain of just two games.

They both wear their heart on their sleeve and this will be their first outings on the US hardcourts in the summer run up to the Olympics and the US Open.

Prediction: Garcia in three sets.

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