Two Canadians Prepared to Impress at Home
2018 Rogers CupGreg Bowman
While the 2018 Rogers Cup officially started on Saturday, the tournament play starts on Monday, as the biggest names on the ATP Tour will battle it out for a week-long Masters 1000 Title. Ontario’s capital will be home to the men’s side of the tournament, as the women will be competing in Montreal. 19 of the top 20 seeds on the tour are all in the competition, and a few of the big names were in attendance on Sunday for the Rogers Cup Media Day. Here's a look at some of the players to watch at this year's Rogers Cup.
Milos Raonic (ATP #29)
Since he turned pro in 2008, Milos Raonic has been the face of Canadian tennis. He made a name for himself when he excelled to the fourth round of the Australian Open in 2011. He then truly captured the hearts of his fellow Canucks in 2013 when he went to the finals of the Rogers Cup in front of his home crowd, losing to Rafael Nadal. Raonic is known for his strong service game, as he’s clocked in as high as 250 km/h—the sixth highest ever recorded. The 6’5 Raonic is the most successful Canadian singles tennis player in history, reaching as high as no. 3 in the world in 2016. That was also the year he reached the Wimbledon finals, where he lost to the hometown hero in Andy Murray. In early 2017, Raonic withdrew from a tournament with a torn hamstring which sidelined him for a month or so. He would return and make it to the Wimbledon quarter-finals , but would have to withdraw from future tournaments such as that year’s Rogers Cup and the US Open. The injury-plagued year was the first time since 2011 where Raonic did not pick up an ATP title. Raonic would have an early exit at this year’s Australian Open and would not compete in the French Open due to a knee injury, but eventually did rise back to form when he made the finals at the Stuttgart Open, losing to Roger Federer. The Serbian-Canadian did compete at Wimbledon, but would suffer a torn quad which sidelined him for a week and a half. Now, Milos is rested, and has been practicing in Toronto for over two weeks as he seeks his first tournament win in two years on his home turf. He will start his tournament against Belgian David Goffin.
Denis Shapovalov (ATP #26)
At just 19 years of age, Denis Shapovalov is the highest-ranked Canadian at the 2018 Rogers Cup. The Richmond Hill, Ontario native is ranked no. 26 in the world coming into the tournament, and is the youngest singles player in the top 100. Shapovalov made his presence known in the 2017 Rogers Cup, where he beat top players Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro en route to a semi-final appearance where he fell to eventual champion Alexander Zverev. After qualifying for the US Open a couple of weeks later, he made it to the fourth round, making him the youngest player to reach such point since 1989. Before turning pro, Shapovalov tore up the junior tennis circuit, winning the boy's Wimbledon singles title and a US Open doubles championship. He compiled an impressive 86-32 record in his junior career. Now fully pro, he has reached the semifinals in the Delray Beach Open, and the Madrid Open so far in 2018. He was the youngest player to ever make a semifinals appearance in the Madrid Open. Denis Shapovalov continues to impress people on every stage he plays on. He is hoping that his success which followed his improbable run to last year’s semi finals can translate into him being the first Canadian to win the Canadian Open. He will start his tournament on Tuesday with a matchup against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
Rafael Nadal (ATP #1)
In this his 17th year as a professional, Rafael Nadal has won the Rogers Cup title three times in his career. He first won the Canadian tournament in 2005, then three years later in 2008 and most recently in 2013. In last year’s tournament, Rafa was eliminated by Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the round of 16. The Spaniard has battled injuries the last couple of years, but has finally seemed to have regained his form in the past 12 months. He won last year’s US Open, and the 2018 French Open, which was his 11th title at Roland Garros. Most recently, he locked horns with Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of Wimbledon—a match which was easily the marquis of the tournament. Nadal would fall to ‘The Joker’ who eventually won the Wimbledon crown. Nadal comes in as the world no. 1, a spot which he has come in and out of his entire career. The King Of Clay will be hoping that the hard court surface of the Aviva Centre in Toronto will be friendly to him as he battles for his fourth Rogers Cup title. He will have a first-round bye, as he will await his opponent for his first match on Wednesday.
Kevin Anderson (ATP #6)
South-African Kevin Anderson is ranked no. 6 on the ATP Tour coming into the 2018 Rogers Cup. Anderson’s rise to the top of the tennis world is due to more recent success. He only has four career ATP titles, but made a name for himself at last year’s US Open, making it to the finals, losing to Nadal. He then captured his fourth career tour win at the New York Open in February. Anderson is probably most well-known for his semi-finals match at Wimbledon this past July where he played John Isner in the second-longest match in major tournament history, spanning 6 hours and 36 minutes. The South African may have emptied the tank in that match, as he fell to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon finals. Anderson has been a pro since 2007. At age 32, he is the same age as Rafael Nadal, whom he competed against on many occasions when the two were in the junior circuit. Kevin Anderson is playing the best tennis of his career in 2018, and hopes that his momentum will carry him to Rogers Cup glory, as the hard-court season gets underway on the ATP Tour. Anderson will enjoy a first round bye at this year’s tournament.
Marin Cilic (ATP #7)
The world no. 7 Marin Cilic is coming into the Rogers Cup with hopes that his career-long consistency will guide him to a title. The Croatian turned pro in 2005, picking up his first career tour win in 2007. He would grab his second title in 2009, where he would also reach his first career Grand Slam quarter-final upsetting Andy Murray at the US Open. He would continue to climb the ladder in 2010 where he would reach his first career Grand Slam semi-finals in the Australian Open. Cilic would find himself in hot water in 2013 though, as he failed a drug test and was banned for nine months. When he returned in 2014, Cilic would capture his first career Grand Slam winning the US Open. He would final in Wimbledon in 2017, showing that he can continuously compete with the world’s best on the biggest stages. He will be looking to continue his strong play as the 29-year old is certainly in the prime of his career for the 2018 Rogers Cup. Cilic will await his opponent in the second round as he has a bye in the first.
Grigor Dimitrov (ATP #5)
The most successful tennis player to come out of Bulgaria is Grigor Dimitrov, as he will look to proudly represent his country at the 2018 Rogers Cup. Dimitrov enjoyed a prolific junior career where he attained a world no. 1 boys ranking, capturing the boys Wimbledon and US Open Championships in 2008. He would then turn fully pro, but would not win his first ATP title until 2013 where he came out on top in the Stockholm Open. That title in 2013 was a sign of good things to come, as Dimitrov would win three ATP titles the following year, as well as reach his first career grand slam semifinals at the Australian Open. He would then go through turmoils with a coach in 2016, before regaining world-calibre form in 2017, finishing the year with four titles and five finals appearance. The Bulgarian would reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2018, but has struggled at the other two Slams this year. Grigor Dimitrov hopes that he will be able to bring out the player he was in 2017 to win the 2018 Rogers Cup. Dimitrov will also have a bye for the first round of competition.