Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2019 Rogers Cup.
Welcome to Montreal and Toronto for the latest unofficially combined men’s and women’s tennis event on the calendar.
Regarding the above: both the men’s and women’s Rogers Cup unfold on the very same week on the tennis calendar, and thus this constitutes a supposedly combined event held every year in Canada.
And yet, every year the Rogers Cup has the men playing in one metropolis at one end of the country, and the women competing further in inside the country at another metropolis completely different from the first one. As we always say: it’s not like you can’t really catch a Rafael Nadal match in the afternoon in Montreal, then fly over to Toronto for, say, a Maria Sharapova night match. But what we are saying is that it’ll feel exhausting as hell doing it.
So yes, the Rogers Cup is a combined event—with both sides of the draws and matches happening in different cities five hours apart, so really just how much of a single event is it?
In any case, let’s do the same thing we’ve done for some time for these bigger and more important events and take a look at both draws of this Rogers Cup: can we correctly predict how they may unfold? We’re typically not great at this, but maybe this changes this week?
SPOILER ALERT: It won’t.
This year in Toronto, all eyes will understandably be on the hometown youngster, upon whom a ton of things and excellence will be placed and expected.
Bianca Andreescu is from Toronto, you see, and she’ll be playing her matches this week in front of her hometown fans and family. She’s ready for her Canadian close-up, they say, and said close-up will start in the first round against a previously heralded Next Gen star from Canada in the person of Eugenie Bouchard.
Elsewhere in this draw, we hope to see a repeat of last year’s US Open final in the last section of the draw between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. We’ll also look on eagerly as Ashleigh Barty continues her reign as the top player in the world: with the 2019 season that she’s enjoyed after three titles and more than $5 million already under her belt this year, she’s a threat in Toronto as well.
Quarterfinals: Ashleigh Barty over Belinda Bencic; Karolina Pliskova over Bianca Andreescu; Simona Halep over Aryna Sabalenka; Serena Williams over Naomi Osaka
Semifinals: Elina Svitolina over Ashleigh Barty; Simona Halep over Serena Williams
Final: Simona Halep over Elina Svitolina
This year in Montreal, all eyes will understandably be on the hometown youngster, upon whom a ton of things and excellence will be placed and expected. If the previous sentence sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly what we wrote above re: the women’s draw.
On the men’s side, Felix Auger-Aliassime is the young Canadian superstar Montreal folks have been promised—or something like that. His 2019 season has unfolded pretty much perfectly so far, so why not give him the Cinderella ending we’d love to see unfold?
As for FAA’s possible opponent in the final, let’s look at a similar script from a Rogers Cup of a couple of years past when the previous Canadian wunderkind made a run to the latter stages of the event; in 2017, Denis Shapovalov did manage to overcome an in-form Rafael Nadal. Would the script have a similar ending for Auger-Aliassime? Probably not.
Quarterfinals: Rafael Nadal over Borna Coric; Kei Nishikori over Gael Monfils; Felix Auger-Aliassime over Alexander Zverev; Marin Cilic over Nick Kyrgios
Semifinals: Rafael Nadal over Kei Nishikori; Felix Auger-Aliassime over Marin Cilic
Final: Rafael Nadal over Felix Auger-Aliassime
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG