Match Preview: Sloane Stephens v Francoise Abanda

It is the third day at the Rogers Cup now and we awaiting a very exciting match to take to Court Central with the American third seed Sloane Stephens taking on home favorite wildcard Francoise Abanda from Canada. Although this match looks good on paper, the odds are not very tight with Stephens being the overwhelming favorite to go forth into the third round.

Recent Form

This has been a very odd season for Sloane Stephens as she has had some fantastic runs with some really top quality wins but she has also had some bad blowout weeks. Her lead-up to the French Open saw third round losses at both the Mutua Madrid Open and the Italian Open at the hands of formidable opposition in the form of Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Garcia respectively before falling short in a really tight first-round match against Yulia Putintseva at the Nürnberger Versucherungscup. Things suddenly clicked for Stephens at the French Open, as she got wins over Madison Keys and Daria Kasatkina to make her second grand slam final, but she ultimately squandered a set and break lead in the final to Simona Halep. There was only one event on the grass for Stephens, which was Wimbledon but it turned out to be short-lived as she failed to win a set against Donna Vekic in the first round. Stephens started her US Open warm-up schedule last week at the Citi Open, and that was not too successful with a second-round loss to Andrea Petkovic. This has not been a great season for Francoise Abanda, as she has taken more losses than wins, despite playing a lot of her tennis on the ITF circuit. Abanda finished her hard court swing with an ITF quarterfinal and then her only French Open warm-up event saw her fall in the second round of another ITF event. That reflected in Abanda’s French Open result with a loss to Martina Trevisan in the qualifying first round. All of Abanda’s grass season was on the WTA circuit but she failed to win a match throughout with qualifying first-round losses at both the Birmingham Classic and the Wimbledon Championships to Conny Perrin and Antonia Lottner respectively. In her opening match here, Abanda played really well to move past Kirsten Flipkens with a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 victory. I have to give the edge in terms of confidence to Stephens because she has been scoring a lot more wins than Abanda despite playing at a higher level.

Montreal/Toronto Record

This has not been the most consistently good event for Sloane Stephens but she has had good runs here in the past with an average result of the second round from five previous appearances. Stephens’ best result at the Rogers Cup came last year when she, really out of nowhere, got a win over Angelique Kerber and made the semifinals before falling to Caroline Wozniacki. In contrast to that really good result, Stephens has fallen in the first round here twice previously in 2015 to Dominika Cibulkova and then in 2016 to Camila Giorgi. This big home event for Francoise Abanda has not fulfilled the home crowd’s hopes previously with an average result of just the first round from five appearances. From those appearances, Abanda has won a main draw match just once prior to this year at that was in 2016 when she made the second round only to fall to Elina Svitolina. The one positive from that record is that Abanda has already equaled her best result at this event no matter how she goes against Stephens. The worst previous result at the Rogers Cup for Abanda was on her debut in 2012 when she fell in the qualifying final to Sesil Karatantcheva. The edge in terms of how comfortable they feel at the Rogers Cup does have to go to Stephens, despite this event being in Abanda’s home nation, because of how good the run from Stephens was last year.

Head to Head Record

Sloane Stephens and Francoise Abanda have never played in an official WTA level main draw match.

My Prediction

I think that this will be a nice straightforward opener for Sloane Stephens because she knows that she can play well at the Rogers Cup and I do not think that Francoise Abanda really has the weapons to trouble someone like Stephens, and the home favorite might feel some pressure playing on Court Central. I think that Abanda gets out to a really good start as she gets an early break while Stephens adjusts to the conditions and her opponent and once she does, I think she will tear through the rest of the set to take it 6-3. In the second set, I do think that Stephens will be going at such fast a pace because she can struggle early on in events and Abanda will put up a considerate fight but the finesse and raw talent of Stephens will be too much and the American will take the 6-3, 6-3 win.

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