Canada traditionally hosts the first major tournament of each American hardcourt summer season as the Rogers Cup Premier 5 event is one of two marquee lead-up events to the US Open.
Unlike most tournaments that have a fixed host city each year, the Rogers Cup alternates between Canada’s two major metropolis as the men & women’s side switch back and forth between Montreal and Toronto.
Last year, the ladies got to enjoy beautiful French-Canadian Montreal, making Toronto the host of the 2015 women’s event. Located in the city’s North York district, the Rogers Cup Toronto is played in the Aviva Tennis Centre, a large-scale facility able to accommodate this massive event that boats a 56-player main draw.
Being one of the most important events of each WTA season, the Rogers Cup comes with an almost completely players field as Maria Sharapova is the only elite WTA player to be missing in Canada this week due to injury.
48 qualifiers started their quest to make the main draw on Saturday as many young Canadian players got to mix and mingle with some of the WTA’s most promising players. Two qualifiers had an extra challenging match ahead of them as Ajla Tomljanovic & Mona Barthel played their qualification match less than 24 hours after competing at the Bank of the West Classic quarterfinals in California.
Despite having to complete a five-hour flight across three time-zones in between, both players managed to win their encounters with minimal preparation time. While Mona Barthel got past Isarel’s Shahar Peer, Tomljanovic fought off Sachia Vickery in three sets, much to the enjoyment of the Australian’s new coach John-Laffnie de Jager.
While the qualifiers were battling out on the courts, other players prepared for their main draw attack, among them Victoria Azarenka. The Belarussian former world #1 pulled out of Washington with a shoulder injury the week before Toronto, hoping to be ready for this week’s tournament in time. Azarenka is looking at a particularly tough draw, playing Elina Svitolina in round one and looking at a possible matchup with Petra Kvitova in the second round.