2016 Tournament Preview: Rogers Cup

February 8, 2016 12:13 PM

Where: Uniprix Stadium, Montreal; Rexall Centre, Toronto

When: July 22-31 (Montreal), July 23-31 (Toronto)

Defending Champions: Andy Murray (men’s singles), Belinda Bencic (women’s singles); Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (men’s doubles); Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova (women’s doubles)

Tournament Website: www.rogerscup.com

History: The Rogers Cup is one of tennis’ more unique tournaments. It features both a men’s event and a women’s event held simultaneously but at two different sites – one in Montreal and one in Toronto, with the men’s and women’s events alternating locations every year. (For 2016, 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 event 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, John McEnroe and Rafael Nadal among the men, and Margaret Court, Steffi Graf, Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams among the women. Ivan Lendl holds the record for most Rogers Cup men’s singles titles, at six, with Robert Bedard in 1958 the last Canadian men’s singles champion. For the women, Chris Evert and Monica Seles lead the way in the Open era with four titles apiece; Faye Urban Mlacek in 1969 was the last Canadian women’s winner.

2015 Recap: Belinda Bencic stole the show at the 2015 Rogers Cup, winning six high-quality matches to claim the biggest title of her young career. The 18-year-old former world junior champion defeated either a Grand Slam singles champion or finalist in each of her matches, including No. 1 seed Serena Williams, No. 2 Simona Halep, No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 5 Ana Ivanovic. The biggest of those was the Swiss’ semifinal upset of Williams, which was just the American’s second defeat of 2015 and her first in a  three-set match in a year’s time. In doubles, the 2015 Australian Open and French Open doubles champions, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova, defeated Caroline Garcia and Karolina Srebotnik, 6-1, 6-2, for the crown.

In the men’s draw, Andy Murray snapped an eight-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic, defeating the world No. 1, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, in a grueling, three-hour final. Murray also beat current or former Top 10 players Tommy Robredo, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Kei Nishikori en route to the championship. The Rogers Cup singles title was Murray’s third, alongside 2009 and 2010, and propelled him to the overall 2015 men’s Series crown. Meantime, the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, won their fifth Rogers Cup, defeating Canadian Daniel Nestor and his partner, Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 7-6, 3-6, [10-6], in the final.

2016 Preview: Injuries and the Olympic Games, which start a week after the Rogers Cup, have winnowed the field of some of the top players – including both defending champions – but Montreal/Toronto remains one the world's premier events and once again boasts a world-class field.

Leading the way for the men is current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a three-time champion, along with two-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka and 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori. The women's draw includes four of the top five women in the world: No. 2 Angelique Kerber, No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza, No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 5 Simona Halep. All eyes in Canada will be on its home-country stars, Milos Raonic, the current world No. 7 and the reigning Wilmbledon finalist, and Eugenie Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up and Australian Open and French Open semifinalist.

Editor's Note: 2016 preview updated July 24

Fun Fact: The Big Four of the men’s game have been the dominant players in tennis for the past decade-plus, perhaps nowhere more so – and more equitably – than at the Rogers Cup. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have combined to win 11 of the past 12 Rogers Cup men’s crowns, with Federer having won twice and the other three men owning three titles apiece. The interloper was 2014 champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who, coincidentally, defeated Djokovic, Murray and Federer en route to his lone Rogers triumph.

– E.J. Crawford