Outside the Grand Slams, Rogers Cup week is one of the most anticipated weeks on my tennis calendar. This year’s tournaments have been blighted with withdrawals – Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic and of course Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have all withdrawn from Montreal, while Maria Sharapova has pulled out of Toronto.
One immediate analysis is that anticipation is arguably greater for the WTA event, with the majority of the big names participating. On the same week of WTA TV launching, the ATP tour has seen big stars withdraw, providing a real platform for women’s tennis to take over.
New world number one Karolina Pliskova will take to the court for the first time since being crowned the world’s best, while Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina, Johanna Konta and Venus Williams will all be in the main draw. Not to mention Jelena Ostapenko, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens and Coco Vandeweghe… the list goes on.
Over in Montreal, the tournament has been damaged with the aforementioned withdrawals. However, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic are in the draw.
In both Toronto and Montreal, there is a big chance for some of Canada’s exciting young talent to really shine. Here are three players that we should keep an eye out for in this year’s Rogers Cup.
Bianca Andreescu – WR 144 (=CH)
After a breakthrough event in Washington, Bianca Andreescu has been granted a wild card at her home nation’s biggest tournament. Reaching the Quarter Finals at the Citi Open, the 17 year-old defeated Camila Giorgi and Kristina Mladenovic before losing to Andrea Petkovic in three sets.
She has drawn Timea Babos in the opening round, with a potential headliner against Coco Vandeweghe or Aga Radwanska in the second round. With the crowd on her side, Andreescu could be a potential future champion here and her first main draw Rogers Cup experience will be an occasion which you hope she will cherish and take forward.
Denis Shapovalov – WR 143 (CH 130)
It seems you can’t go too far without discussing the big serving leftie, but you can’t help but be excited by Denis’ undoubted talent. Last year, he stunned the world by beating Nick Kyrgios in the opening round in Montreal, before losing to Grigor Dimitrov in round two.
This year, Denis will be hoping to go one better. He opens against Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva and will face either John Isner or Juan Martin Del Potro (itself the pick of the first round matches), in what could be a truly mouthwatering tie.
Canadians have flourished in the Rogers Cup recently, with Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic both semi finalists four years ago, and Denis will be hoping he can use this tournament to really springboard his career. A good run here could help Denis reach the Next Gen finals in Milan (where he’s currently 11th in the race), so there’s all to play for!
Eugenie Bouchard – WR 70 (CH 5)
It seems an obvious choice, but Eugenie Bouchard really needs this year’s Rogers Cup to go her way. It’s hard to believe that the Canadian is only 23. After reaching the Wimbledon final in 2014, Bouchard has had to re-discover her love for tennis after a real fall from grace.
She showed signs of her quality in Washington last week, playing some magnificent tennis and powerful winners against Christina McHale, and you feel the crowd really need to get behind her in Toronto. She has a tough opening round match against qualifier Donna Vekic, and although she’ll still be a big favourite, it’s going to be a tough match for her. Last year, Eugenie did all the hard work by defeating Safarova and Cibulkova in the opening two rounds, but eventually lost out to qualifier Kristina Kucova, so we should definitely not rule out a win for the qualifier.
With a potential second round match-up against Angelique Kerber up for grabs, this could be the year that Bouchard re-finds that form that took her to the semi finals in three Grand Slams three years ago.
Toronto: Caroline Wozniacki
Montreal: Rafael Nadal