Fans’ Guide to the Week 9- 15 August
Originally published on: 05/08/10 17:10
When? 9-15 August
Where? Toronto, Canada
Event Type: ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Prize Money: $2,430,000
Draw Size: Singles 56, Doubles 24
Defending champ: Andy Murray
Toronto welcomes the return of the “big three” as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer contest their first tournaments since Wimbledon. The Rogers Cup will see Federer enter a tournament ranked outside the top two for the first time since 2003, and after a comparatively “off” mid-season by his sky-high standards – the Swiss would no doubt like to win the Rogers Cup for a third time following wins in 2004 and 2006. The man who took his spot at No.1 – Rafael Nadal, in case it slipped your mind – is also targeting a third triumph on the Canadian hard-courts. The two may well be on course for their 22nd encounter (and their 18th in a final). If the pair do collide, Federer may have to bypass Novak Djokovic in the last four – but if he does so, a betting man would side with the Spaniard, who’s won six of their last seven clashes.
World No.2 Novak Djokovic returns to the tour two weeks later than planned after withdrawing from Los Angeles’ Farmer’s Classic for ‘personal reasons’. But the 2007 champ plans to make up for his absence by doubling up in the team competition in Toronto – somewhat surprisingly alongside Nadal, who plans to make the most of his good health.
“Last year I didn’t play because I had problems with the knee,” said Nadal. “This year I like the idea. Doubles is an important part of the game and you can improve lots of parts of your game.”
And the 23-year-old is pretty content with his choice of partner too.
“Playing with Novak will be positive,” added Rafa. “I am excited. To have him in my side of the court will be a nice experience.”
Back to the singles draw, and the American contingent will look to continue their dominance of the US Open Series. Though both lost early in Washington last week – when no American player made the quarter-finals in the American capital for the first time in the tournament’s history – Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey have claimed titles in Atlanta and Los Angeles and each will target their first Masters 1000s title in Toronto. American No. 1 and 2003 champ Andy Roddick will look to recapture his early hard court form and claim his 30th career title, having endured a slow start to his US Open build-up campaign.
We shouldn’t forget Andy Murray, of course, who became the first Briton to win the Rogers Cup last year. Always a fan of the hard courts and raucous courtisde atmosphere over the pond, the world No.4 will expect to go deep into the tournament on the back of his run to the final in Los Angeles.
Western and Southern Financial Group Women’s Open
When? 9 – 15 August
Where? Cincinnati, USA
Event Type: WTA Premier
Prize Money: $2,000,000
Draw Size: 64 singles
Defending champ: Jelena Jankovic
The absence of the injured Serena Williams hasn’t affected the level of quality on show during the American hard-court season and Jelena Jankovic will have to conjure up something particularly special to defend her Cincinnati title. The world No.2 retired injured from both Wimbledon (back) and Portoroz (ankle), and failed to make it past round two in San Diego last week. Injuries aside, Jankovic knows what it takes to triumph on US hard courts, having claimed her sole title of 2010 in Indian Wells in March.
Caroline Wozniacki and Sam Stosur – both of whom were defeated by the Serb en route to her triumph at the BNP Paribas Open – will pose a strong challenge for Jankovic’s title, while Elena Dementieva will look to take a step closer to emulating her 2009 US Open Series triumph by claiming her first tournament victory in America since she won the Los Angeles title back in 2006.
Don’t count out rising Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova either. The 19-year-old rose to a career-high No.24 in the world after winning the Istanbul Cup this July, beating Sorana Cirstea and Elena Vesnina en route to her win on the Turkish clay. Having reached the quarter-finals of the Slovenian Open to boot, the youngster will hope to take her fine form into her first American hard court tournament after Wimbledon.
Victoria Azarenka returned to form in Stanford by claiming her first title of the year. A virtuoso display of returning saw her defeat Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-1 in her first tournament since her earlier-than-expected Wimbledon exit – in round three to Petra Kvitova. On the way to her Stanford triumph, the Belarusian also defeated defending champ Marion Bartoli and world No. 5 Sam Stosur – whom she defeated on her 21st birthday. Always a danger on hardcourts, the world No.12 is sure to make her presence heard this August.