2019 Preview: Rogers Cup

July 1, 2019 11:30 AM
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Where: IGA Stadium, Montreal (ATP); Aviva Centre at York University, Toronto (WTA)
When: Aug. 2-11 (Montreal); Aug. 3-11 (Toronto)
Defending champions: Rafael Nadal (men’s singles), Simona Halep (women’s singles); Henri Kontinen/John Peers (men’s doubles), Ashleigh Barty/Demi Schuurs (doubles)
Tournament websites: www.couperogers.com/en/ (ATP); http://www.rogerscup.com/ (WTA)

History

An ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier 5 event, the Rogers Cup is the third-oldest tournament in the world, debuting in 1881 at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club. One of tennis’ most unique tournaments, it features both a men’s and a women’s event held simultaneously in two different cities—one in Montreal and the other in Torontowith host sites alternating every year. This year, the men will play in Montreal, while the women will compete 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, Simona Halep and Serena Williams among the women.

Ivan Lendl holds the record for most Rogers Cup men’s singles titles at six, while Chris Evert and Monica Seles hold the most Open era women’s titles with four apiece. Robert Bedard (1958) and Faye Urban (1969) were the last Canadian winners in both singles events.

2018 Recap

Being the highest-level tournament outside of the Grand Slams, the Rogers Cup brings out the cream of the crop in the tennis world. In 2018, it truly was the best of the best that triumphed, as Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep—the ATP and WTA world No. 1s at the time—took home the singles crowns.

While the top-seeded Nadal took the title, the men’s singles event may be remembered more for Greek phenom Stefanos Tsitsipas’ breakout final run. Tsitsipas, who went on to be named the men's US Open Series Breakout Performer, defeated four ATP Top-10 opponents (Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alex Zverev and Kevin Anderson) in succession to reach the Montreal final on what was his 20th birthday.

Nadal spoiled his party with a dominant performance, disappointing the heavy Greek contingent in the Toronto crowd. After the 6-2, 7-6 result, Tsitsipas likened the tenacious Spaniard to a “bulldog” in the way he takes control on the court. 

Russia’s Karen Kachanov, then 22, also made a deep run to the semifinals, foreshadowing his Paris Masters title in November.

On the women’s side, Halep took out Sloane Stephens, 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, in the final. Stephens knocked off defending champ Elina Svitolina in the semis, while Halep defeated current world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty. The Australian, who was seeded 15th in the singles draw, atoned for her semifinal loss by winning the women's doubles title with Dutchwoman Demi Schuurs.

In reaching the singles quarterfinals, unseeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova showed the sort of form that later propelled her to the US Open semifinals, the best major result of her career.

Both doubles finals came down to match tiebreaks. Men’s champions and No. 2 seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers edged Raven Klassen and Michael Venus, while the No. 8-seeded duo of Barty and Schuurs defeated Latisha Chan and Ekaterina Makarova. By reaching the final, Chan (of Chinese Taipei) regained the world No. 1 doubles ranking.

2019 Preview

Though the field has not yet been officially announced, the Rogers’ Cup status as a Masters 1000 and WTA Premier 5 event ensures a top-notch field. But there is intrigue outside of the usual suspects, particularly for the Canadian fans. 

Canadian youngsters Bianca Andreescu, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime will carry the hopes of their home nation, with all three Top-30 players poised to make deep runs on home soil. Andreescu, 19, already has one WTA Premier 5 title to her name, after her Indian Wells triumph this spring. Twenty-year-old Shapovalov, who beat Nadal and reached the semifinals in 2017, will hope to match that effort. Auger-Aliassime, 18, will be making his second Rogers Cup appearance.

Defending champion Nadal will be seeking his fifth Rogers Cup title, as will world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Last year, Djokovic—the eventual US Open and Cincinnati Masters champion—did not hit top gear on the North American hard courts until after the Toronto event. 

All three reigning Grand Slam women’s singles champions—Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty and Angelique Kerber—competed in last year’s event and are expected to be in the mix once again this summer. While Barty enjoyed a strong tournament in 2018, Osaka lost in Round 1 (to eventual US Open quarterfinalist Carla Suarez Navarro), and Kerber fell in Round 2 (to Frenchwomen Alize Cornet).

Fun Fact

Djokovic and Kevin Anderson teamed up to play the doubles event, where they took out the defending champions, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, in a match tiebreak before ultimately falling in the quarterfinals. In Round 1, they took on the home-country duo of Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

 

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