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WTA Rogers Cup Toronto 2013: Draw Analysis
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Following the Olympics a host of stars opted out of the Rogers Cup last year, as they recovered from an extended summer of tennis. Nonetheless, the players who did opt to play benefited, as Czech Republic's No.1 Petra Kvitova claimed the title.
However, the WTA Premier 5 event which will have Toronto's Rexall Centre as it's venue this year will have almost an entire barring Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka's late withdrawal means that former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki replaces her at the bottom of the draw, while Agnieszka Radwanska is still poised to face World No.1 Serena Williams in the semis of the event.
All in all, it makes for a world of endless possibilities as we dissect the draw.
Being ranked at 8 in the world, despite capturing her first ever Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last month, Marion Bartoli finds herself in the same quarter as top seed Serena Williams. The Frenchwoman surpassed all expectations with her victory at the All England Club, but her critics still didn't get off her back and christened her win as 'lucky'. The 28 year-old became the first player ever to win a Major, without having beaten a top ten player.
This is however her opportunity to make her racquet do the talking yet once more, and nothing would make a statement like beating Serena on her way to a second title in two attempts. The American of course, will be looking to bounce back from her quarterfinal exit at Wimbledon.
The second highest seed at the event - Agnieszka Radwanska is at the top of the second quarter, which appears to be the toughest of the four. With players such as Maria Kirilenko, Sloane Stephans and Sara Errani all in her quarter, the Pole certainly has her task cut out.
After making a lot of headlines for reasons other than tennis, Radwanska would like to make her play on the hard courts here in Canada draw plaudits. The third round for the World No.3 may well see a showdown between her and exciting American Sloane Stephens, before a potential clash with Sara Errani or Maria Kirilenko in the quarters.
Eighth seeded Angelique Kerber has suffered from an alarming dip in form since the start of the 2013 season. One of the brightest players last year, Kerber has fallen from being ranked fifth in the world to ninth place. The going for the German gets only tougher as she has a lot of points to defend in the hard court swing of the US Open Series as she reached the finals at Cincinnati.
However, the silver lining for her is that she can try to gain those points here in Toronto, as she couldn't progress beyond the third round last year.
At the bottom of this quarter is Chinese Li Na, who had to endure a disappointing summer. It is for this reason that Li will be one of the most dangerous players on the hard court swing. The 31 year-old has a lot of points to defend both here at in Cincinnati next week, as she was the runner-up here, and the champion in Cincinnati in 2012.
In the fourth quarter resides the champion - Petra Kvitova. The Czech has had a typical up and down season, and has struggled to find any form of consistency all through the year. She put in a splendid display on her way to the title, but started to struggle once again when she was in America at Indian Wells and then again in Miami.
Her clay court season and her grass court season was also pretty poor, which is why she really needs to find her range quickly and find it consistently.
The Czech's quarter has two former World No.1s and a Grand Slam champion, making her task of retaining the title all the more difficult. Kvitova may have to face the in-form Samantha Stosur, if both progress to the third round.
The other top players in the section are Caroline Wozniacki and Jalena Jankovic, both of who are former World No.1s. If all goes to plan, the two will battle for the place in the quarterfinals against the reigning champion.
Semifinal 1: Winner of First Quarter vs Winner of Second Quarter
Semifinal 2: Winner of Third Quarter vs Winner of Fourth Quarter
Final: Winner of semifinal 1 vs Winner of Semifinal 2
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