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Insider Draw Analysis: Halep leads a top-heavy draw in Montreal

WTA Insider breaks down the draw at the Coupe Rogers, where Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber top a loaded draw.

The draw for the Coupe Rogers is out and 18 of the world's Top 20 women are primed to duke it out in Montreal in the first Premier 5 event of the summer hardcourt season. 

Here's how the Montreal draw shakes out: 

Elina Svitolina, Rogers Cup, Toronto
No.5 Elina Svitolina won the Rogers Cup in Toronto last year. (Getty Images)

Tournament snapshot:

Top eight seeds: No.1 Simona Halep, No.2 Caroline Wozniacki, No.3 Angelique Kerber, No.4 Sloane Stephens, No.5 Elina Svitolina, No.6 Caroline Garcia, No.7 Garbiñe Muguruza, No.8 Petra Kvitova.

Top half: Halep, Kerber, Garcia, Kvitova
Bottom half: Wozniacki, Stephens, Svitolina, Muguruza

Potential quarterfinals: Halep vs. Garcia, Kerber vs. Kvitova, Muguruza vs. Stephens, Svitolina vs. Wozniacki

Last year's final (Toronto): Elina Svitolina d. Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4, 6-0.  
Last Montreal final: Simona Halep d. Madison Keys, 7-6, 6-3.

Click here to see the full draw. 

No.1 Simona Halep won the Coupe Rogers in Montreal in 2016. (Getty Images)

Simona Halep leads a loaded top half of the draw. 

World No.1 Simona Halep returns to Montreal with her No.1 ranking secure. The reigning Roland Garros champion and winner here in 2016 will hold on to the top spot at least through the week of the Western & Southern Open. She has held the No.1 ranking every week since February 26, 2018.

Coming off a third-round loss to Hsieh Su-Wei at Wimbledon, Halep will open her tournament against either Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or a qualifier and leads a top half that includes Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova, and Caroline Garcia. Also lurking in the top half are No.9 seed Karolina Pliskova, No.12 seed Daria Kasatkina, and No.13 seed Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova. Halep could face Venus in the third round.

No.4 Angelique Kerber is playing better than ever.

Angelique Kerber has a potential Wimbledon reunion against Serena Williams.

[UPDATED: Serena Williams withdrew from the tournament on Saturday morning.]

The Wimbledon champion heads to Montreal as the tour-leader in both match wins (39) and hardcourt wins (21), but you can't put a number on where her confidence must be as she hits the hardcourts. The 2016 US Open champion sits at No.2 in the Porsche Race to Singapore and is in prime position to push towards the year-end No.1 ranking, which would surely put a bold exclamation point on her resurgent 2018 season.

Kerber has a bye into the second round and could open her tournament with a rematch of the Wimbledon final against Serena Williams. The American plays Alizé Cornet in the first round and the winner will play Kerber. Cornet could prove a very tricky opening opponent for Serena, who is coming off the most lopsided loss of her career, having won just one game against Johanna Konta in San Jose. Cornet is an impressive 3-4 against Serena, though all three wins came in 2014.

Also looming in Kerber's quarter are Petra Kvitova, who sits behind Kerber in 2nd in match-wins with 38, and Karolina Pliskova. 

Jelena Ostapenko and Johanna Konta have split their two meetings.

Johanna Konta and Jelena Ostapenko set for a blockbuster Round 1 clash. 

The bottom half of the draw is anchored by the two reigning hardcourt Slam champions, with No.2 Caroline Wozniacki looking to start her summer season after having to withdraw from Washington D.C. with a leg injury, and No.4 Sloane Stephens. 

Wozniacki could face Aryna Sabalenka in her opening match (Sabalenka opens against a qualifier), which would be a rematch of the tightly contested Eastbourne final, which Wozniacki won in two tight sets. Stephens opens against either Canadian wildcard Francoise Abanda or a qualifier. 

But the big first round match of the bottom half belongs to No.11 Jelena Ostapenko and No.48 Johanna Konta. The two have faced off twice and both matches have been tight three-setters, with Ostapenko winning this year on clay in Rome, 2-6 6-3 6-4, and Konta winning 7-5 3-6 6-4 last year the grass in Eastbourne. This will be their first meeting on hardcourt. The winner will play either Victoria Azarenka or Kristina Mladenovic. 

No.27 Carla Suarez Navarro is the top seed in qualifying. (Getty Images)

This weekend's qualifying tournament will have a big impact. 

The Montreal qualifying field is stacked with marquee names that have the potential of shaking up the main draw. No.27 Carla Suárez Navarro forgot to enter Montreal, making her the top seed in qualifying. Also in qualifying this weekend: Lucie Safarova, Donna Vekic, Yulia Putintseva, Sam Stosur, Monica Puig, and Caroline Dolehide.

See the full qualifying draw here.

Notable First Round Matches: Daria Kasatkina vs. Maria Sakkari, Barbora Strycova vs. Magdalena Rybarikova, Karolina Pliskova vs. Katerina Siniakova, Ekaterina Makarova vs. Anett Kontaveit, Victoria Azarenka vs. Kristina Mladnovic, Jelena Ostapenko vs. Johanna Konta, Elise Mertens vs. Eugenie Bouchard. 

Timea Babos, Wimbledon
Doubles No.1 Timea Babos aims to hold on to her top ranking this week. (Getty Images)

Doubles No.1 ranking on the line for Timea Babos. 

Timea Babos has held the top WTA Doubles Rankings since July 16th. At Montreal, she will be challenged by French Open and Wimbledon champion Katerina Siniakova and former No.1 Latisha Chan, who both have a chance of overtaking Babos in Montreal.
Siniakova and Chan need to reach the final to have a chance at moving to No.1. Siniakova is scheduled to play with her partner Barbora Krejcikova in Montreal, while Chan will be teaming up with former doubles No.1 Ekaterina Makarova.
Chan is also playing in San Jose this week. If she does not win the San Jose title, then she will need to win the title in Montreal to retake the No.1 ranking.


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