The 2018 season is coming to a close, and we’ve already compiled a list of who to watch until the next Rogers Cup rolls around next year. Here are some of the highlights.
- Novak Djokovic back on top
After bringing his 2017 season to an abrupt end in July, Novak Djokovic was back in action in January at the 2018 Australian Open, though he admitted he had not fully recovered from an elbow injury. After undergoing surgery and sitting out two months, he came roaring back. But despite a semifinal appearance at the Masters 1000 in Rome, Nole couldn’t clinch a title. He finally ended a two-year Grand Slam drought and hoisted the winner’s trophy on Wimbledon grass. Little did he know, the victory would prove to be the turning point in his season. In quick succession, he seized the titles at the Cincinnati Masters, US Open and Shanghai Masters and battled in the final of the Masters 1000 in Paris. When Rafael Nadal dropped out of the rankings race early, the 31-year-old Serbian sensation soared to the very top for the first time since 2016. At the season-ending ATP Finals in London, he defeated Isner, Zverev, Cilic and Anderson, falling to Zverev in the decisive showdown (6-4, 6-3). Will the Djoker keep the momentum going in 2019? Here’s hoping he takes home his fifth Rogers Cup crown!
- A maiden Grand Slam title for Alexander Zverev?
Alexander Zverev, who reached a career high ranking of World No. 3 in 2017, is still on the hunt for his first Grand Slam title. Though he’s only 21 years old, he has many fans anxiously waiting for him to lift his first major trophy. Montréal’s reigning Rogers Cup titleholder finished off the season by taking hold of the most prestigious title of his career at the ATP Finals in London, toppling Cilic, Isner, Federer and Djokovic along the way and adding a fourth crown to his trophy case in 2018. Will he defend his Canadian title as a Grand Slam champion? Stay tuned to find out!
- Stefanos Tsitsipas aims for the Top 10
This season, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece—who started out 2018 on the Challenger circuit—took the tennis world by storm. Currently ranked World No.15, he is now among the players to watch. The 20-year-old began his ascension at the ATP 500 Barcelona Open, where he overthrew four Top 5 players, including Dominic Thiem, and met up with Rafael Nadal in the final. A few months later, he ousted four Top 10 aces to appear in his first Masters 1000 final in Toronto. He ended 2018 with titles at the ATP 250 Stockholm Open and Next Gen ATP Finals, which showcase the talent of the Tour’s top seven 21-and-under singles players. Will he break through the Top 10 in 2019? It’s anyone’s guess, but we’re willing to bet that tennis fans in Montréal will keep an eye out for him on his first official visit to the city!
- Félix Auger-Aliassime and the Canadian squad in action
It’ll be interesting to see how Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov, Vasek Pospisil and Félix Auger-Aliassime fare next season before they make their way home for Rogers Cup. Raonic has already played in a Rogers Cup final and Shapovalov and Pospisil earned semifinal berths. There are high hopes for Auger-Aliassime in 2019. He will be at his third Rogers Cup event—his first in Montréal—and we can’t wait to catch him in action. In his remarkable year of transition to the pro tour, the 18-year-old claimed two Challenger titles and wrapped things up on the cusp of the Top 100. In September, he qualified for the main draw of a Grand Slam for the very first time at Flushing Meadows. Up against fellow Canadian and good friend Denis Shapovalov in the first round, Auger-Aliassime was forced to throw in the towel due to a health concern. Acknowledging that he would close out the year on an encouraging note, just a few wins out of the Top 100, he reiterated his intention to step things up after key wins over high-ranking players. Fingers crossed that our homegrown talent will get the new season off to a thundering start and even cause a few surprises in front of his fans in Montréal!
- Rafael Nadal finds his form
Plagued by injury, Rafael Nadal was repeatedly stopped in his tracks by knee and abdominal pain this season. Still, he managed to secure five titles, including Roland-Garros and Rogers Cup in Toronto. On the whole, the former World No.1 has every reason to be proud. Rafa hasn’t competed since the US Open, where he was forced to retire in the semis. Will he make a triumphant return in 2019? Will he defend his Canadian crown in Montréal? Only time will tell.
No one knows what the upcoming season has in store, and we’ll be on top of all the action leading up to Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Montréal. Who will you be following on the road to Rogers Cup?