Where: Uniprix Stadium, Montreal; Rexall Centre, Toronto
When: August 4-13 (Montreal), August 5-13 (Toronto)
Defending champions: Novak Djokovic (men’s singles), Simona Halep (women’s singles); Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo (men’s doubles); Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina (women’s doubles)
Tournament website: www.rogerscup.com
The Rogers Cup is one of tennis’ more unique tournaments. It features both a men’s and a women’s event held simultaneously but in two different cities – one in Montreal and one in Toronto, with the men’s and women’s events alternating locations every year. (For 2017, the men are playing in Montreal and the women in Toronto.)
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, and Robert Bedard was the last Canadian men’s singles champion in 1958. 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.
Novak Djokovic captured his fourth Rogers Cup title in a tournament that did not feature his three biggest rivals. The Serb moved easily through the draw, weathering a tough first-round match against Giles Muller before dispatching Kei Nishikori, 6-3, 7-5, in the final in 82 minutes.
With the victory, Djokovic – who also won the tournament in 2007, 2011, 2012 and was runner-up in 2015 – earned his 30th Masters 1000 title, a record total. With four Rogers Cups titles to his name, he surpassed rivals Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, who each have three titles in Canada.
In doubles, Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, the 2015 French Open Champions, defeated Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, 6-4, 6-4, in the final.
The women’s draw saw Simona Halep rise to the top in Montreal, defeating Madison Keys, 7-6, 6-3, to claim her third title of the year (also Bucharest and Madrid). To reach the final, the Romanian beat both US Open finalists – No. 14 seed Karolina Pliskova in the round of 16 and No. 2 seed Anqelique Kerber – as well as former US Open champion and No. 9 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Halep also reached the final in the doubles bracket with partner Monica Niculescu, falling to Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 7-6(5). The loss to the Russian pair prevented Halep from becoming the first player to win the Rogers Cup singles and doubles in the same year since Martina Hingis in 2000. Vesnina and Makarova, who won the doubles title at the 2013 French Open and 2014 US Open, went on to win the gold medal at the Rio Olympics just a few weeks later.
Toronto will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the women’s event in 2017. Set to lead the way are current world No. 2 and defending champion Simona Halep, world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, No. 3 Angelique Kerber, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, Wimbledon winner and world No. 4 Garbiñe Muguruza, two-time 2017 Grand Slam finalist Venus Williams and Venus' fellow Americans Madison Keys, CoCo Vandeweghe, Sloane Stephens and CiCi Bellis.
2016 champion Novak Djokovic (injured) will not be returning to defend his title, but Montreal will host this year's Grand Slam champions: 2017 French Open winner Rafael Nadal and 2017 Australian Open and Wimbledon titlist Roger Federer. Also slated to compete for the men are 2016 Rogers Cup runner-up Kei Nishikori, top Americans John Isner, Jack Sock and Sam Querrey, and a number of rising stars in the men’s game, including Dominic Thiem, Alex Zverev and Nick Kyrgios.
All eyes in Canada will undoubtedly once again be on its home country stars: 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic, 2013 Rogers Cup semifinalist Vasek Pospisil and women’s standout Eugenie Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up and Australian Open and French Open semifinalist.
The Rogers Cup, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event and a WTA Premier 5 event, has long been considered one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, among a group of nine men’s and women’s tournaments that sit just below the Grand Slam events.
Although not a part of the “big four,” the Rogers Cup is the third-oldest tournament in the world, debuting in 1881 at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club. Technically, it’s just four years younger than Wimbledon and only two weeks younger than the US Open.
- Jackie Finn