Just two women are left in contention at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Bianca Andreescu has made history, bringing a Canadian woman back to the home country’s final, after a 50 year absence. A healthy Serena Williams, meanwhile, will be looking to claim her first title since becoming a mother. Who will emerge triumphant?
Toronto Rogers Cup Prediction
Bianca Andreescu vs Serena Williams
Head-to-head: First meeting
With her hands in the shape of a heart, Canadian superstar Andreescu celebrated her semifinal win over American Sofia Kenin. Not since 1969 had a Canadian reached the women’s final at the Rogers Cup. The teen phenom has certainly earned her place in the title-match. In her first tournament since a shoulder injury which forced her to retire at Roland Garros, Andreescu has battled through four three-set matches.
While her semifinal against Sofia Kenin was her first match not to go the distance, it was still far from straightforward for Andreescu. With Andreescu serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set, Kenin broke back and then managed to force a tiebreak. But Andreescu was able to rely on her power to hit through the frustrated Kenin and closed out the win seven points to five in the tiebreak.
A heavily strapped thigh after a groin injury she picked up against Karolina Pliskova, didn’t seem to hamper Andreescu, though she did use an ice throughout. Her court coverage was impressive, dismissing concerns that Andreescu’s body wouldn’t hold up in the semifinal. She made a solid 65% of her first serves, winning the point 75% of the time behind it, landing four aces. Andreescu also won 40 points against the Kenin serve, breaking the American three times from nine opportunities.
It’s been a great week in Toronto for the American superstar. Surely her biggest win came against world #2 Naomi Osaka, a player to whom Williams had twice lost to, including in the US Open final last season. In the quarterfinal bout, Williams blasted her way through the match garnering a straight-sets win. It seems the former-world #1 is primed to win her first tournament since becoming a mother.
That would be most welcome after an injury-filled year for the great American. A lingering knee injury, which has prompted numerous retirements and withdrawals, has been particularly troubling. But in her opener in Toronto, Williams’ movement was stellar and she has continued to move well all week. After Williams’ opening-round win, during her on-court interview, Williams stated that this is the first time this year that she’s playing pain-free.
But in her semifinal, Williams’ problem solving had to be at its best. The heavy shots which stymied Osaka seemed to encourage Marie Bouzkova, whose defence suffocated Williams early on. But after yielding the first set 6-1, Williams improved her first serve percentage and began to find some winners. After breaking at 3-3, Williams closed out the second set. With the match level, Bouzkova continued to show admirable heart. But she lacked experience and Williams took advantage to reach her first Rogers Cup final since 2013.
How do they match up?
The two very different styles of play on display should ensure an exciting match. There also looks to be little to separate this pair, who have both played exceptionally well in Toronto. Andreescu will need to look to her variety to prevent Williams from getting into a rhythm. If Andreescu can keep Williams moving around and employ drop shots to draw the American off the baseline, she will surely be rewarded. The Canadian should also look to her sliced backhand, which she combines well with thunderous forehands.
Andreescu is now 6-0 against top 10 opponents and will be confident taking on the current world #10, particularly with the crowd behind her. Williams will need to have a good serving day to have a chance. It is also important for Williams to start strong, as in the Osaka match, rather than working from a deficit scoreline. There will be little room for error in this match. Unfortunately, errors have abounded for Williams in recent finals. Expect Andreescu to take advantage.
Prediction: Andreescu in 3
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