• The women head to Montreal this year for the Rogers Cup, where Elina Svitolina will look to defend her title.
  • The betting field is absolutely loaded, but a number of top players are dealing with injuries.
  • Serena Williams also withdrew due to personal reasons prior to the tournament.
  • Three plays are also included for the first-round, which begins at 11 a.m. ET today.

We head up north for tennis this week for the only trip to Canada on the calendar. The Rogers Cup is a Premier tournament that annually attracts the best players on Tour. The men and women alternate every year between Montreal and Toronto — with the women heading to Montreal in even years.

The 64-player draw (top eight seeds get a first-round bye) is absolutely loaded once again with 18 of the top 20 ranked players in the world. The eventual winner will certainly have to earn the title. However, some will benefit from a path that contains fewer fit and/or in-form players. Let’s further analyze each of the four quarters of the draw to identify any futures betting value.

Simona Halep Quarter

No. 1 seed Simona Halep (+650) is the ultimate draw winner, as the other seed in her section is an off-form Venus Williams (33-1). Halep, who won Montreal in 2016, shouldn’t have any issue getting to the quarterfinals on a surface she has proven herself on many times. I think the Romanian comes out motivated and focused on maintaining her No. 1 ranking after getting upset at Wimbledon.

The other half of this quarter features Daria Kasatkina, Maria Sharapova, Caroline Garcia, Maria Sakkari, Barbora Strycova and Magdalena Rybarikova. I honestly have no idea who will get through that incredibly difficult section so I’d stay away from a futures perspective.


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Angelique Kerber Quarter

Kerber (+550) would’ve likely faced Serena Williams in the second round before Williams withdrew on Saturday (personal reasons). The German will now get a much easier second round opponent in either Tatjana Maria or Alize Cornet. I’m always weary of champion hangover, especially when it’s a grand slam — so be cautious early if you fancy Kerber after her Wimbledon title. If Kerber isn’t on her game, Ashleigh Barty (40-1) has the tools and power to beat her in the third-round. Those two split hard court matches in Oct. 2017 and Jan. 2018.

Petra Kvitova (10-1) comes off an extremely disappointing first round loss at Wimbledon (as the pre-tourney favorite). However, she had a very productive winter/spring (four titles) after losing in the first round of the Australian Open. I don’t think the Wimbledon loss will linger for the mentally tough Kvitova.

That said, if Anett Kontaveit (66-1) can get past an off-form Ekaterina Makarova, she could pose problems for Petra. Kontaveit beat the Czech on clay this year and forced her to three sets on a hard court in 2017. This surface is not Kontaveit’s best, but she can beat an out of tune Kvitova.

Karolina Pliskova (14-1) also looms in this quarter, but she’s had a very uneven year. Her only title came on her worst surface, clay — and she’s already lost as a favorite ten times this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Katerina Siniakova or Kiki Bertens upset her early in the tourney.

Sloane Stephens Quarter

In my mind, this is the most intriguing quarter, as the top two seeds look vulnerable. Stephens (11-1) suffered a disappointing second round loss in Washington last week, while Garbine Muguruza (10-1) pulled out of San Jose with a right arm injury.

That could open things up for Julia Goerges (40-1), who returns to her preferred hard-court surface — where she won 14 matches in a row earlier this year. She’ll be favored in her first two matches against Timea Babos and the winner of Daria Gavrilova-Lucie Safarova. That would set up a third round clash with Muguruza, who has potential fitness and confidence issues after a very disappointing grass season.

The other seed opposite Stephens is Naomi Osaka (25-1), who I fancied last week. However, she didn’t look her best and did have a taped ankle that looked like it could be an issue.


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Caroline Wozniacki Quarter

Wonziacki’s quarter features 2017 Rogers Cup winner, Elina Svitolina (10-1), who tends to thrive much more in Premier events than she does in higher-pressure Slams. Svitolina has won four Premier events, including two on outdoor hard courts (Toronto, Dubai).

The biggest storyline in this quarter is injuries. Three top players all come into the event with serious injury questions.

  1. Victoria Azarenka (24-1) looked strong last week in San Jose before retiring up a set in the quarterfinals with what looked like an agonizing back injury. I’m not sure she can recover in time.
  2. Wozniacki (10-1), who withdrew from Washington D.C. last week, practiced with a heavily taped right thigh all weekend.
  3. Elise Mertens (66-1) has some sort of wrist issue she obtained in the San Jose semis against Mihaela Buzarnescu on Saturday.

These injury issues have me eyeing Svitolina to win Montreal at 10-1. If she can get by an in-form Buzarnescu, the draw may open up with all of the injury issues among the seeds.

Tournament Futures 

  1. Simona Halep +650
  2. Elina Svitolina +1000
  3. Julia Goerges +4000

Halep has the easiest draw and has played excellent tennis all year long. She already has a title here and is my main play at +650. I’m using Svitolina (who excels at these events) as a sort of saver since she benefits from a quarter littered with injured players. Finally, I think Goerges holds the most futures value at +4000. The German is in solid form and can take down top talent.


Monday Best Bets

Anett Kontaveit -120

Makarova’s extremely disappointing year continued last week in a straight sets loss to Ana Bogdan at her favorite tournament. And two weeks ago, she lost to World No. 923 in a $15K ITF tournament in Georgia (the country). I still don’t know why she was even playing that tourney.

Kontaveit has had a bit of an uneven year, but I still really like the Estonian’s game. She also beat Makarova in their only meeting on the Miami hard courts in 2017. As long as Kontaveit plays within herself, Makarova will make plenty of errors. Makarova’s form is so woeful right now that Kontaveit is a bargain at -120.

Carla Suarez Navarro +145

I’m not one to back Navarro, but Osaka didn’t look fit last week. Pictures from practice in Montreal also show a heavily bandaged right leg. CSN, who looked dominant in her two qualifying matches, defeated Osaka in their only previous meeting (albeit on clay).

Navarro will play defense and keep the ball in the court, which could frustrate Osaka into spraying the ball as she did last week. The Spaniard warrants a look at +145.

Caroline Dolehide +180

Williams continued her troubling 2018 campaign last week, losing to Maria Sakkari in three sets. She still looked completely off her game and could not withstand Sakkari’s power.

Venus will face another power player in Dolehide. The talented 19-year-old has struggled to put the pieces together, but did beat Dominika Cibulkova earlier this year on a hard court. Too much underdog value to pass up against a fading Venus.

Credit:

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Simona Halep

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