World’s best tennis players set to serve up excitement in Canada

The best tennis players on the planet are in Canada this week for the Rogers Cup, which begins in earnest on Monday in Montreal and Toronto.

World's top tennis player Novak Djokovic is congratulated by Canada's Milos Raonic (right) after the Serbian won their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open on January 28, 2015.

World’s top tennis player Novak Djokovic is congratulated by Canada’s Milos Raonic (right) after the Serbian won their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open on January 28, 2015.

Fifteen of the top-16 ranked women in the world and 14 of the 16 highest rated male singles players are set to take part in the tournaments. The women are in Toronto this year, while the men will play in Montreal.

The WTA (women) and ATP (men) switch cities each year in Canada, one of the most prestigious stops in both tours and a huge tune-up for the upcoming U.S. Open on hardcourt. For the ATP it is a Masters 1000 tournament, offering massive points and prize money to top players outside the majors (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open). Similarly for the WTA, Canada is a  « Premier 5 » stop where money and points are aplenty.

Women’s draw

Eugenie Bouchard at 2015 French Open (photo via rolandgarros.com).

Eugenie Bouchard at 2015 French Open (photo via rolandgarros.com).

Maria Sharapova had to pull out of the singles tourney last moment due to a right leg strain, however the women’s draw will still feature top ranked Serena Williams, who is in world-beating form having won all three Grand Slams – Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon – this year. Challenging her will be Romania’s Simona Halep, Czech star Petra Kvitova and crowd favourite Danish superstar Caroline Wozniacki among other top stars, such as Poland’s Agnieszka Radawanska (number six seed) – the defending women’s singles champion.

A close watch will be kept on Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard, who is not seeded after a tumultuous 2015 sees her dropped to number 25 in WTA rankings. She had peaked at no. 5 in 2014. Bouchard has recently parted ways with coach Sam Sumyk, whose introduction to Bouchard’s camp coincided heavily with her drop in form. Will Bouchard regain the instinct and drive that made her a treat to watch for fans and simultaneously infuriating for her opponents? We may find out in Toronto.

Dabrowski and Zhao receive gold medals at the Pan Am Games women's doubles final on July 16, 2015.

Dabrowski and Zhao receive gold medals at the Pan Am Games women’s doubles final on July 16, 2015.

Other Canadians in the women’s singles draw are double Pan Am Games medallist Gabriela Dabrowski, Francoise Abanda and Carol Zhao, who won the Toronto 2015 women’s doubles title with Dabrowski.

On the subject of doubles, Dabrowski will team up with Alicja Rosolska of Poland, drawing Abanda and fellow Canadian Heidi El Tabakh in the first round. Zhao will team up with another Canadian, Sharon Fichman, who had an injury this summer that incidentally allowed Zhao’s selection to Team Canada at TO2015.

Men’s draw

Milos Raonic serves against Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain on June 29, 2015 at Wimbledon.

Milos Raonic serves against Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain on June 29, 2015 at Wimbledon.

Over in Montreal, Canada’s Milos Raonic will be backed by the locals. The top Canadian singles player (ATP no. 10) hasn’t been able to make the most of this season due largely to a foot injury that saw him exit multiple tournaments earlier than expected. Raonic takes the number eight seed on Canadian soil, behind top three positions occupied by Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. Tournament’s defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, who impressively defeated Djokovic, Murray and the great Roger Federer en route to the crown in 2014 is the 10th seed.

Djokovic won the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles this year, while Wawrinka lifted the French Open trophy at Roland Garros. Federer and David Ferrer are the only top ranked players missing in Montreal, but many will be eager to see if Spain’s Rafael Nadal (no. 7 seed) can regain form ahead of the U.S. Open and re-insert himself into conversation among the heavyweights with a strong outing in Montreal.

Vasek Pospisil celebrates after defeating James Ward of Great Britain at Wimbledon on July 4, 2015.

Vasek Pospisil celebrates after defeating James Ward of Great Britain at Wimbledon on July 4, 2015.

Canada’s Vasek Pospisil enjoyed a tremendous run reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals this year, the best Grand Slam singles outing of his career to date. Pospisil will hope to build on that in Montreal, especially in front the wonderfully noisy home fan support that follows him whenever he is on Canadian ground.

Other Canadians entered in singles are Filip Peliwo, Frank Dancevic and Pan Am Games mixed doubles silver medallist Philip Bester.

Bester will team up with Canadian Adil Shamasdin in doubles, while the legendary Daniel Nestor will also carry the maple leaf in the competition partnering with French specialist Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Although not seeded due to their relatively new pairing, Nestor and Roger-Vasselin (2014 French Open doubles winner) could cause a few upsets.

Editor’s note: Other Canadians may be added to the draw for both women and men depending on qualification results. The names listed above are confirmed at time of writing.