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Sofia Kenin runs down a backhand against Elina Svitolina, of Ukraine, in a quarterfinal match at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto, Friday Aug. 9, 2019. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Sofia Kenin runs down a backhand against Elina Svitolina, of Ukraine, in a quarterfinal match at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto, Friday Aug. 9, 2019. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)|Associated Press
Tennis

Western and Southern Women's 1st Round: Abrams picks matches with Yastremska, Wozniacki, Venus, Bencic, Anisimova, Kenin and more

The 1st Round is Monday & Tuesday starting Monday at 11 am EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Western and Southern Open

Cincinnati, OH

Monday, August 12, 2019

Women’s First Round picks

Dayana Yastremska over Caroline Wozniacki

I hate to go against the Dashing Dane, but Caroline Wozniacki is not the tennis player she used to be. Never a real offensive player, the Dane relied on consistency, strong groundstrokes, speed, retrieving, and a strong internal fighting spirit. But all of those skills have begun to wane, and she doesn’t have the same game to fight to the death with as she did. Dayana Yastremska is an offensive player, so things can go wrong quickly. But if they don’t the 19-year-old Ukrainian will take charge and stay in charge. Normally I’d take the defender over the hitter, but not with a ten year age difference.

Venus Williams over Lauren Davis

I love watching Lauren Davis play. She competes with all her heart and soul and is a lesson in intensity. Unfortunately for the Ohioan, she matches up poorly against the 6’1” Williams, who has lost a lot on her serve, but can still cover the court because of her giant steps. With two gallops Williams can make it into net to put away any high volley, and that’s what to look for here. Williams has a career record over Davis of 3-0, and I don’t see Davis making a dent in that dominance.

Belinda Bencic over Vika Azarenka

Vika is trying to get back to “Go” and collect her $200, but Father Time is having a thing or two to say about her trip around the Monopoly board. She has shown resolve, but her game hasn’t quite responded to her internal cues. Her fighting spirit has only produced a 2019 record of 20-15, and that’s not good enough to challenge for titles. In fact, it’s not good enough to crack the Top 25, as she’s currently residing at #40. Bencic, on the other hand, currently ranked #12, has made strides this year and she’s become the better player. These two haven’t played since 2015, when Bencic was just a teenager. Now, she’s a player.

Amanda Anisimova over Daria Kasatkina

The 17-year-old Anisimova is no longer a WTA secret. The 5’11” teenager is ranked #23 in the world, and got to the semis of the French Open to make her big Grand Slam breakthrough. She is still raw, but she’s a diamond in the rough. She, in my opinion, is the next American star (along with Sofia Kenin). Kasatkina is an up and coming player too, but interestingly, her hard court record is not quite as good as her clay or grass court record. For the year, she’s only 8-15, and that’s just not gonna cut it against Anisimova. I think the American takes charge from the baseline immediately, and puts her foot on the accelerator until the checkered flag is waved.

Sofia Kenin over Julia Goerges

Sofia Kenin has made the transition from Tour player to star this year, and her year isn’t over yet. Her win over Serena Williams in Paris was the impetus to fill her head with confidence, but she took that win and ran with it, winning Mallorca, and getting to the semis of the Rogers Cup. Goerges is a reliable veteran Tour player, and incredibly entertaining to watch, but is not a champion. Still, she carries a ranking of #25 in the world, four spots better than Kenin. But if Kenin has her “A” game, the American should roll through this match in two very competitive sets.

Zarina Diyas over Serena Williams

Serena Williams had to pull out of the finals in Toronto on Sunday with back spasms, and if she stays in this tournament one of two things are true: either her back was fine on Sunday and she just didn’t want to lose, or she made the quickest, most miraculous comeback from back spasms ever. More likely, her back actually was injured, and she’ll pull out of this match. In that case, Diyas wins.

Jennifer Brady over Ons Jabeur

Jennifer Brady is another young (24) American who has made many strides this year. She’s produced a nice 27-18 record, and is now considered a very dangerous floater to most WTA pros. Ons Jabeur, also 24, is a reasonably reliable Tour veteran with nine years of professional experience behind her. She’s just not a star. More like a measuring barometer. And Brady is the better player at this point.

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