Do we know how GOOD the Rogers Cup/Coupe Rogers will be in Canada next week? No. However, I can confidently assert that these tournaments — Toronto for the WTA Tour, Montreal for the ATP Tour — will be compelling.
Why am I saying this, especially since Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer won’t be in Montreal, and especially since the WTA Tour is so utterly uncertain these days?
This is my simple answer: Look at what is happening in Washington, D.C., this week.
Lots of seeded players have tumbled out of the tournament very early. David Goffin — coming off a very solid Wimbledon tournament in which he made his third major quarterfinal — lost in the capital city of the United States. Madison Keys bombed out of D.C. very early as well.
Goffin and Keys are two prime examples of players who have a lot to play for in Canada, Cincinnati, and especially the U.S. Open. They are both in the midst of journeys united by a main goal: Establish high-level staying power on tour.
They would both love to win a major, but before that happens, they need to repeatedly make deep runs in important tournaments, which is usually (though not always) the path to higher relevance and greater major-championship opportunities in tennis.
Why does Canada figure to be such a compelling tournament for both the WTA Tour and the ATP Tour? It is precisely because the Goffins and Keyses of the tours will arrive in Canada relatively fresh.
Phrased differently, they won’t be like Alexander Zverev last year, who won in Washington and was tired heading into the great north. He lost steam and was not a factor for the rest of the summer hardcourt season.
In a related development, Zverev did not play Washington this year. Two plus two still equals four.
So, the losses of several top players early in Washington makes them more relevant in Canada. They won’t be roasted and toasted. They will have more than enough fuel in the tank. Sloane Stephens, Karen Khachanov, Sofia Kenin, and several other notable names on both tours — players with a lot on the line — will be physically ready to do their best.
That, to me, makes Canada more compelling.
I can’t wait. Neither can Saqib Ali, who will be in Toronto for a few days to cover the early stages of that tournament at Tennis With An Accent.