World-class tennis returns to Canada starting Monday with the Rogers Cup, a U.S. Open Series event on both the ATP and WTA Tours.
The men will be playing at IGA Stadium in Montreal and the women at the Aviva Centre in Toronto.
Rogers Cup Men In Montreal
The Rogers Cup is an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event on the men’s side, meaning it’s a tier below only the four Grand Slam tournaments.
The good news for tennis fans in Montreal is that world No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who won his record 12th French Open title earlier this summer, is defending his 2018 title. The Spanish left-hander, the greatest clay-court player (Rogers Cup is hardcourt) in history, men or women, was ranked No. 1 in the world last year when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 7-6 (4) in the final. Unlike many men’s tournaments, the Rogers Cup is best-of-3 sets and not 5.
It was Nadal’s fourth career Rogers Cup title and first since 2013. Ivan Lendl holds the men’s mark with six titles. Tsitsipas, a young Greek, had upset four Top-10 opponents to reach his first-ever Masters 1000 championship match.
A bit of disappointing news, though, this year in that both world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 3 Roger Federer, who has more Grand Slam titles than any male in history, withdrew from this event. Those two played an epic final match at Wimbledon and both have been resting up since ahead of the U.S. Open.
There are 16 seeded players in the 56-man field and the seeds go by ATP rankings so Nadal is No. 1 and Dominic Thiem (fourth in the world) is No. 2. The top eight get first-round byes.
Canadians Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime all qualified for direct entry in the draw, while Brayden Schur, Peter Polansky and Vasek Pospisil got wild-card entries. Raonic reached the 2013 Rogers Cup final but was routed by Nadal. No Canadian has won the men’s event since Robert Bedard in 1958.
Rogers Cup Women In Toronto
This is a WTA Premier Tournament for the women, which is below the four major championships and four Premier Mandatory Tournaments on the Tour. Like on the men’s side, there are 16 seeded players (by world rankings) with the top eight earning first-round byes.
World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia is thus the top seed, and she won the French Open earlier this year for her first Grand Slam title. Last year in Montreal, Barty reached the semifinals but was ousted by top-seeded Simona Halep in straight sets. Halep would go on to win her second Rogers Cup, beating American Sloane Stephens 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-4 in the final. Halep also won in 2016 and is the No. 4 seed this year. She won Wimbledon this year for the first time.
The biggest-name entrant on the women’s side is No. 9 seed Serena Williams of the USA, the 23-time Grand Slam champion. Serena has a 30-4 match record all-time in this tournament and won it in 2001, 2011 and 2013. Those three titles are one shy of the modern-era record. However, at age 37 Williams hasn’t won a title all year – to be fair, she doesn’t play many events outside of the Slams. Serena lost in the Wimbledon final to Halep in a big upset.
No Canadian woman will be seeded in the field because the top-ranked player in the world is No. 26 Bianca Andreescu. The 19-year-old won her first WTA title earlier this year at the prestigious Indian Wells tournament in California. Former top-ranked Canadian women Eugenie Bouchard is having an awful, injury-plagued season and is down to No. 114 in the world. Bouchard, fellow Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova earned the wild-card entries into this event.
The last Canadian woman to win this tournament was Faye Urban in 1969, beating countrywoman Vicki Berner in straight sets.
Rogers Cup Predictions
Nadal on the men’s side and No. 5 Kiki Bertens for the women. She lost in the quarters in 2018 to Barty.