2014 Tournament Preview: Rogers Cup

February 24, 2014 09:17 AM
Serena Williams won her second career Emirates Airline US Open Series title in 2013 and will lead an array of stars returning to the Series this summer.
Rafael Nadal (right) kicked off his perfect summer with a title at last year's Rogers Cup, defeating home-country favorite Milos Raonic in the final.

Where: Uniprix Stadium, Montreal, and Rexall Centre, Toronto, Canada
When: Aug. 2-10 (qualifying starts July 31)
Defending Champions: Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams (singles); Alexander Peya – Bruno Soares and Jelena Jankovic – Katarina Srebotnik (doubles)
Tournament Website: www.rogerscup.com

History: The Rogers Cup is one of the more unique tournaments in the Emirates Airline US Open Series. It features both a men’s event and a women’s event held simultaneously at two different sites – one in Montreal and one in Toronto, with the men’s and women’s events alternating locations every year. (For 2014, the women are playing in Montreal and the men in Toronto.) The tournament, organized and run by Tennis Canada, started in 1881 for the men and 1892 for the women. That makes it the third-longest-running tournament in professional tennis, trailing only Wimbledon and the US Open.

Past Rogers Cup champions include Andre Agassi, Bjorn Borg, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Rafael Nadal among the men, and Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles and Serena Williams among the women.

2013 Recap: Nadal began his perfect summer in Montreal a year ago, knocking off two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and home-country favorite Milos Raonic, 6-2, 6-2, in the final. Nadal, who also won the Rogers title in 2005 and 2008, would go on to take the title at the Series event in Cincinnati and at the US Open to complete his summer hard-court season at 17-0.  In doubles, Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares won their first Rogers Cup title, defeating two-time singles champion Andy Murray and British countryman Colin Fleming, 6-4, 7-6, in the final.

In Toronto last summer, Williams collected her third Rogers Cup crown with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over surprise finalist Sorana Cirstea, who knocked off past champions Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova, as well as Jelena Jankovic and Li Na, en route to the title match. Williams had also won the Rogers Cup title in 2001 and 2011. The doubles title went to the unseeded team of Jankovic and Katarina Srebotnik, who defeated Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke, 5-7, 6-2, [10-6].

2014 Preview: One of the premier events in tennis outside the four Grand Slams, the Rogers Cup annually draws the top players in the world. In fact, the Top 10 women in the world have already committed for 2014, and the top men are all expected to compete as well. And with good reason – a title at the Rogers Cup has been a promising sign in recent years. Every man who has won a Rogers championship since 2003 has also won a US Open title, with Andy Roddick (2003), Federer (2004, 2006), Djokovic (2011) and Nadal (2013) claiming both titles in the same year. Among the women, Kim Clijsters (2005), Henin (2007) and Serena (2013) have pulled off the Rogers-US Open double over that same span.

Fun Fact: By reaching last year’s final, Raonic became the first Canadian man to play in the Rogers Cup final since 1958, when Robert Bedard won the title. The last Canadian woman to win the Rogers Cup was Faye Urban Mlacek in 1969.

E.J. Crawford