The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Road to Rogers Cup: WTA stars gear up for grass-court season

June 10, 2019

Welcome to Road to Rogers Cup, the regular roundup of all the action on the WTA Tour ahead of the 2019 Rogers Cup presented by National Bank at Sobeys Stadium from August 3 to 11.

Today, we’ll take a quick look back at the recent French Open at Roland-Garros and look ahead to the grass-court season as attention turns to Wimbledon.

Photo: Roland-Garros

Brilliant Barty wins first Grand Slam to cap unique journey

Seeing Ash Barty lift the famous French Open trophy on Saturday was a sight all tennis fans could appreciate. The 23 year old from Queensland, Australia, has taken a path not-so-well trodden on her way to a first-career singles Grand Slam title.

Her tennis career was going relatively swimmingly until, in 2014, she announced she would be taking a break from the sport. At the time, Barty was ranked outside the top 200 in singles and was No. 40 in doubles.

Intriguingly, during her hiatus from tennis, Barty became interested in playing another ball game – cricket. One of the most popular sports in her native Australia, she inquired about how she could get involved at a competitive level. Her skill set immediately impressed coaches and she went on to spend a year or so playing for Brisbane Heat and Queensland Fire.

Barty returned to professional tennis in 2016, ranked outside the WTA Tour’s top 600. Three years later, she’s a Grand Slam champion and ranked No. 2 in the world following her dominant 6-1, 6-3 win over Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. What a story!

Photo: Getty Images

Grass-court season next up for WTA stars

The stunning weather in Toronto over the weekend saw Sobeys Stadium baked in sunshine and finally made it feel like Rogers Cup is just around the corner. First, though, there’s the small matter of the grass-court season, including arguably the most prestigious Grand Slam of them all – Wimbledon.

Of course, there are plenty of warm-up events in the lead up to the famous tournament at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. But the real excitement surrounds who will take home the gleaming prize at the end of the second week of July.

In the meantime, the Nature Valley Classic (June 17-23) will see several of the WTA’s big names turn out. Britain’s Johanna Konta, World No. 1 Naomi Osaka, Garbine Muguruza and 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys will all take part in Birmingham.

Photo: Roland-Garros

Canadian Contingent

A virtually-perfect run by youngster Leylah Annie Fernandez saw the 16 year old make history as she became the first Canadian to claim the Junior Roland-Garros title. Her 6-3, 6-2 victory over Emma Navarro of the United States in the final ensured she finished the tournament without dropping a single set.

Doubles specialist Gabriela Dabrowski almost joined her Fed Cup teammate in lifting silverware as she reached the final of the mixed doubles event at Roland-Garros. Unfortunately, the Ottawa native and her partner Mate Pavic were unable to overcome Ivan Dodig and Latisha Chan, losing 6-1, 7-6(5) for the second year in a row to the Croatian-Taipei duo.

Genie Bouchard returned to the courts at the French Open following a short break from competition but was unable to progress past the first round. The 25 year old was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by 27th-seed Lesia Tsurenko.

Indian Wells title-winner Bianca Andreescu won her opening match at Roland-Garros, beating Marie Bouzkova 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. But she was forced to retire ahead of her second round match against Sofia Kenin due to a shoulder injury The 18 year old hopes to return to action soon, though, and – like her fellow Canadians – will be hoping to make a splash during the upcoming grass-court season.

(Feature photo: Wimbledon)