A battle of top doubles players and former Grand Slam singles semi-finalists would occur in the first round of the Rogers Cup as Ekaterina Makarova and Peng Shuai moves their rivalry onto the singles court. This is definitely a cruel draw for both players, with both Makarova and Peng being one of the most dangerous unseeded players in the packed field. The winner of this match also faces world number seven Johanna Konta in the second round.
Peng’s recent results
After reaching the third round at the Wimbledon Championships where she impressively defeated teen sensation Marketa Vondrousova and 25th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, Peng edged closer to a return to the Top 30 for the first time since 2015. Being the second seed at the Jiangxi Women’s Open, the Chinese was the favorite to clinch the title. Not disappointing her fans, Peng strolled to the title losing only one set along the way and easily defeated Nao Hibino in the final, securing a return to the Top 25 in the rankings.
Makarova’s recent results
As an unseeded player at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Makarova fell to compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round. In her first hard court tournament in fourth months, the Russian was handed a very tough draw and another early exit looked certain. However, she defied all the odds and beat the Olympic champion Monica Puig in the second round in a battle of Olympic Gold Medalists (Makarova won the doubles gold medal).
She followed it up with a bittersweet victory over top seed and world number two Simona Halep in the quarterfinals, who was forced to retire in the final set with a heat illness. Outgunning Oceane Dodin, Makarova reached her first WTA final of the year having not reached a quarterfinal before the week. There, she impressively defeated Julia Goerges in three sets, coming from a set and a break down to do so. The victory allowed Makarova to clinch just the third WTA title in her career, and her first since 2014.
Both players are hard-hitters and would definitely look to dictate play in the match. Peng is known to be very consistent in her baseline game and utilizes a double-handed shot on both her forehands and backhands. These powerful shots were also what brought the Chinese to a career-high ranking of 14 and a Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open. The current world number 23 also possesses a decent serve, and she is able to utilize the power on it to get some free points along the way. Being a former world number one in doubles competition, Peng could also mix in drop shots and some net play to her singles game, finishing off some points there.
However, Makarova is also an accomplished doubles player as she is currently the world number three in doubles currently, and recently won the Wimbledon Championships having served an unbelievable double bagel in the final. She could also have the same tactics as Peng, moving up to the net more often and also adding a variety of shots to her game, catching the Chinese off-guard during rallies. Makarova owns a very powerful backhand which is able to produce some excellent winners, but she has to ensure that she puts in a consistent performance because inconsistency has proved to be costly in the past for the Russian. Makarova’s lefty serves gifts her an advantage, forcing Peng to move out wide to receive the serve at an awkward position especially after having a double-handed forehand.
Both players seemed to possess the same weapons in their games but one crucial factor might be consistency. Makarova did reach the final in Washington last week, but it would be a huge question mark if the Russian can keep up her high level of play in Toronto as well. Fatigue could also pose a challenge as she played a final on Sunday before her first round match which would be played on Tuesday. Adapting to a different court with contrasting weather conditions might be tough, and Makarova could struggle with that. Therefore, Peng has the slight edge in this encounter.
Match Prediction: Peng Shuai d. Ekaterina Makarova in three sets