Alexander Zverev and Elina Svitolina eye title defence in Canada - Six things to know about the Rogers Cup

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The Rogers Cup commences on Monday with Simona Halep leading the field in Montreal and Rafael Nadal the top seed in Toronto.

Germany’s No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev is the defending champion and heads to Canada in the same position he was in 12 months ago, fresh off of a title run at the Citi Open in Washington D.C.

Ukrainian world No. 5 Elina Svitolina is the title holder and will be making her first appearance since a disappointing first-round exit at Wimbledon last month.

Here are six things to know about this week’s Rogers Cup.

STRONG ON DEFENCE

Both Zverev and Svitolina have had success as defending champions.

Zverev repeated his title runs in Munich and Washington this year after lifting the trophies there in 2017, while Svitolina went back-to-back in both Dubai and Rome in 2017 and 2018. She also defended her Baku title back in 2014.

While they are yet to fulfil their Grand Slam potential, Zverev and Svitolina have certainly established themselves as powerhouses on tour and do not succumb to the pressure of being the reigning champion at a tournament.

VARIETY

The ATP Rogers Cup is the only one of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments to be won by five different players over the past five editions, with Alexander Zverev (2017), Novak Djokovic (2016), Andy Murray (2015), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2014), and Rafael Nadal (2013) crowned champions in Canada over the last few seasons. Will we get a sixth different winner in a row this week?

THE ABSENTEES

After losing in the San Jose first round last week to Johanna Konta, Serena Williams pulled out of Montreal citing personal reasons. Fellow Americans CoCo Vandeweghe (right ankle) and Madison Keys (right wrist) have also pulled out while Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova – a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon last month – has withdrawn due to illness.

On the men’s side, Roger Federer and Andy Murray are the most notable absentees with the former opting for a light schedule and the latter recovering from a gruelling few matches in Washington last week.

SIZZLING OPENERS

In Toronto, Novak Djokovic opens against Chung Hyeon, who defeated the Serb en route to the Australian Open semi-finals in January. Swiss wildcard Stan Wawrinka faces Aussie big-hitter Nick Kyrgios, No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman takes on British No. 1 Kyle Edmund, home favourite Milos Raonic kicks off his campaign against No. 10 seed David Goffin while Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas squares off with Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.

In Montreal, 12th-seeded Daria Kasatkina opens against San Jose runner-up Maria Sakkari, Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka faces Spanish qualifier Carla Suarez Navarro, ex-world No. 1 and Belarusian wildcard Victoria Azarenka takes on crafty Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic and local wildcard Eugenie Bouchard starts against 14th-seeded Elise Mertens.

TOP SPOT

On the men’s tour, the No. 1 ranking has swapped hands between Nadal and Federer six times already this season, but with Nadal now a healthy 2,230 points ahead of the Swiss in the rankings, and Federer opting out of Toronto, which means he’ll drop runner-up points from last year, the gap between the pair will increase this week.

Simona Halep started her 40th week (24th in a row) as world No. 1 on Monday and is 851 points ahead of second-ranked Caroline Wozniacki. Halep has semi-final points to defend from last year in Canada, while Wozniacki has runner-up points to defend. The Dane cannot usurp Halep in the rankings this week.

EYES ON THE WIMBLEDON CHAMPS

Angelique Kerber will be making her first appearance since lifting the Wimbledon trophy last month – her third Grand Slam title – while Djokovic is also playing for the first time since claiming a fourth crown at the All England Club. With both of them back on their favourite surface, the pair will be looking to keep the momentum going on the hard courts of Canada.

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Andy Murray withdraws from Citi Open tournament in Washington

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Pulled out: Andy Murray

Andy Murray has pulled out of his Citi Open quarter-final with Alex de Minaur in Washington.

The former world number one cited exhaustion for his decision following a gruelling week which had seen him taken to three sets in all three of his matches and spend more than eight hours on court.

The 31-year-old, who only finished his third-round win against Marius Copil at 3am on Friday morning, said in a statement on the ATP website: “I won’t be able to play my match tonight. I’m exhausted after playing so much over the past four days, having not competed on the hard courts for 18 months.

“I also need to be careful and to listen to my body as I come back from a long-term injury.

“I’m gutted not to be playing and I’d like to thank the tournament and all the fans.”

It was Murray’s first hard court tournament since March 2017 having been plagued by a hip injury.

He added: “There are lots of positives to take from this week, so I’ll take some time to rest and recover – I won’t play in Toronto next week – and then head to Cincinnati early to prepare and get ready.”

Murray had earlier announced he would not be playing in next week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto.

A tweet on the Citi Open Twitter feed read: “It’s been an honor to be a part of your comeback journey, @andy_Murray! Wishing you a speedy recovery. Whatever it takes, we know you’ll rise stronger than ever.”

The week in Washington saw Murray play the most consecutive matches since returning from the hip problem which kept him out for 11 months and he will now have a week’s rest and recovery instead of heading to Canada.

He was handed a wild card to the tournament he has won three times, but will now travel to Cincinnati to prepare for his next scheduled event – the Western and Southern Open starting on August 13.

Murray earlier said in a statement on Facebook: “Sadly I won’t be able to take my place in the draw in Toronto. I’d like to thank the tournament for a wild card, I always love playing in Canada and look forward to returning next year.

“I’ve played quite a few matches this week in Washington and I need to be smart with my rest and recovery as I come back from injury.

“My plan is to head to Cincinnati early next week. Appreciate all the support this week in Washington, it’s amazing to be back playing.”

Murray was left sobbing after his marathon win over Copil, which came after previous lengthy battles against Mackenzie McDonald and British number one Kyle Edmund.

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Emotional Andy Murray edges Marius Copil in thriller to reach Citi Open quarter-finals

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Battling victory: Andy Murray was in top form

Andy Murray advanced to the quarter-finals of the Citi Open in Washington DC with a 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 7-6 (7/4) success against Romania’s Marius Copil.

The 31-year-old Scot is continuing his comeback from hip surgery in January and his fitness was put to the test in the US capital in a match which lasted over three hours and did not conclude until 0300 Friday local time.

Murray, who was visibly emotional after the match, will face Alex de Minaur in the last eight after the Australian beat Hyeon Chung 6-2 4-6 6-2.

Top seed Alexander Zverev is also into the last eight after a 6-3 7-5 victory over his brother Mischa.

The German will play Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals after he emerged as a 7-6 (7/1) 6-3 winner against Denis Shapovalov.

David Goffin broke little sweat in beating Frances Tiafoe 6-0 6-3 and the Belgian will face Stefanos Tsitsipas after the Greek got the better of James Duckworth 6-3 6-4.

Denis Kudla was a surprise 7-5 6-7 (6/8) 7-6 (7/5) winner over Lucas Pouille to set up a last-eight clash against Andrey Rublev, who won 6-3 6-2 against Noah Rubin.

Juan Martin del Potro made a safe passage into the semi-finals of the Abierto Mexicano in Los Cabos.

The Argentinian beat Egor Gerasimov 6-1 6-1 and the top seed will face Damir Dzumhur in the last four after the Bosnian triumphed 6-2 6-3 against Michael Mmoh.

Second seed Fabio Fognini beat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2 6-2 and he will play Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who won 6-4 6-4 against fourth seed Adrian Mannarino of France.

Elsewhere, Maximilian Marterer was knocked out of the quarter-finals of the Generali Open by qualifier Denis Istomin.

Marterer, the highest seed remaining in the draw, was beaten 6-3 6-3 by Uzbekistan’s Istomin in Kitzbuhel.

Martin Klizan won 4-6 7-6 (8/6) 6-2 against Dusan Lajovic, Jaume Munar was a 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 winner over Taro Daniel while Nicolas Jarry saw off Matteo Berrettini 7-5 6-3.

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