Rogers Cup Toronto: Bouchard headlines promising crop of Canadians

Eugenie Bouchard joined Tim and Sid to discuss the Rogers Cup and her expectations and how she doesn't take social media personally.

One of the greatest things about the Rogers Cup is that local talent are awarded wildcard entries, giving a handful of Canadian players the chance to gain valuable experience against top-level competition.

And who knows, maybe they might even win a match or two. Or steal the show, like a 17 year-old Denis Shapovalov did this time last year in Toronto.

Will there be another hometown hero this time around? Here’s a closer look at the six Canadian women competing in the Rogers Cup this year:

EUGENIE BOUCHARD

Three years ago, Bouchard was a sensation, ranked fifth in the world and having reached the semi-finals in two of the four slams in 2014 — including an appearance in the Wimbledon finals — all before her 20th birthday.

After falling back to Earth, these days she is fighting to climb back to contender status, now ranked 73rd on the WTA tour entering the Rogers Cup. It’s been a rocky 2017 for Bouchard, who lost in the first round of her past three tournaments prior to Toronto. But there have been flashes of greatness for the highest-ranked Canadian female, like her impressive win over top seed Angelique Kerber at the Madrid Open in Spain (in the match prior Bouchard ousted Maria Sharapova. Sharapova withdrew from the Rogers Cup on Thursday).

Bouchard ended up reaching the quarter-finals of that tournament, but her best 2017 result came way back in January, when she made it to a semi-final before losing to Johanna Konta, one of the favourites at the Rogers Cup this year.

There will always be a good amount of local pressure on Bouchard, and that might be what’s needed to bring the best tennis out of her.

FRANCOISE ABANDA

Trending in the opposite direction of Bouchard at the moment is the 20 year-old Abanda, who has outplayed her 131st ranking over the past couple of months.

After advancing past the qualifying stage and into the main draw at the French Open, Abanda lasted two rounds before losing to former Rogers Cup champion Caroline Wozniacki. She repeated the feat again more recently at Wimbledon, dropping a hard-fought three-set match to 13th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko.

Those results are encouraging for another player bound to be in the spotlight in Toronto, thanks in large part to her success representing Canada at the Fed Cup, leading her country to an important win against Kazhakstan back in April.

As she gets more experience consistently playing against top-flight competition, Abanda is bound to continue to improve and should find success on the hard court, where her hard serves and all-around game could thrive. Abanda will not have to go through qualifying at the Rogers Cup as she’s been awarded a birth into the main draw.

BIANCA ANDREESCU

The 17 year-old from Mississauga, Ont. has impressed on the junior circuit, where she’s been ranked as high as third in the world. Like Abanda, Andreescu advanced through three rounds of qualifying at Wimbledon last month, ultimately falling in her first main draw match.

Thanks to Sharapova’s withdrawal, Andreescu will take her wild-card spot in the draw. Andreescu has a 22-7 record so far on the pro circuit this year, and has also enjoyed Fed Cup success playing for Canada, going 7-1 while representing her country in singles and doubles.

GABRIELA DABROWSKI

Also awarded a wild card entry to the qualifying stage at the Rogers Cup, Dabrowski, 25, is known more for her success as a doubles player, where she currently ranks 21st in the world and reached a career-best No. 19 earlier this year.

She’s really made a name for herself in mixed doubles over the past two years. The Ottawa native reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last month, as well as at the Australian Open in January and the 2016 US Open. Her biggest success to date has come on the clay at Roland Garros, where she claimed the mixed doubles championship at the French Open this year despite her and her partner, India’s Rohan Bopanna, entering the tournament as the seventh seed.

KATHERINE SEBOV

The 18 year-old Toronto native will be playing in a familiar environment and is one of four Canadians with a wild card entry into the qualifying round. She enters the Rogers Cup with a 24-14 match record on the year, and is fresh off an appearance in the finals at a recent ITF challenger event in Granby, B.C., where she ousted fellow Canadian Bianca Andreescu in the second round. It was her first finals appearance as a pro.

Sebov has had a successful 2017 in which she’s beaten her first top-100 player, 97th ranked Varvara Lepchenko, and prior to the Granby tournament had reached three separate semi-finals to date.

ALEKSANDRA WOZNIAK

The Blainesville, Que. native is no stranger to the Rogers Cup, as this will be her 11th appearance. Her best result came in 2012, when she reached the quarter-finals before losing to former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Another Fed Cup standout, Wozniak has represented Canada plenty over the years, amassing an impressive 40-12 record in international competition. Her best year to date was 2009 when she reached a career-best ranking of 21st in the world—the top-ranked Canadian at the time— thanks in part to a fourth-round appearance at the ’09 French Open.

Wozniak is playing strong tennis at the right time. In July she won an ITF tournament in Gatineau and will be looking to parlay that success in Toronto where she too will have to advance through the qualifying stages.