If you were the suspicious type – hey, why you looking at me? – you’d be forgiven for raising a Spockian eyebrow when the Rogers Cup women’s draw was held Friday afternoon.
Almost a little too good to be true, wouldn’t you say?
Bianca Andreescu versus Eugenie Bouchard on a tasty Tuesday night menu. Well, well, well, isn’t this an interesting little piece of business to kick off Canada’s annual tennis gathering of the world’s best tennis players?
On the basis of WTA rankings, this would be a mismatch in the making. Except there’s a lot more to this story than rankings.
This is about Andreescu, the new face of Canadian women’s tennis, on the comeback trail from injury, with nobody outside her camp quite certain whether her shoulder is going to stand up to tournament competition. You just don’t know until the live bullets start flying.
This is also about Bouchard, the woman who used to be the face of Canadian women’s tennis, and whether she has the game and the determination to make herself a factor on the women’s tour again five years after appearing to be the next big thing in the sport.
Yes, I think this should be something very, very interesting to watch.
“Of course,” smiled Andreescu on Friday when the draw was announced, meaning that “of course” she couldn’t just quietly return against a relative unknown. Of course, it had to be Genie. Why not jump right back into the fire, just like Vasek Pospisil at Wimbledon when he made his return from back surgery against fellow countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The Andreescu-Bouchard clash was the best of the first round matchups unveiled, but certainly not the only intriguing one. Carla Suarez Navarro will take on Venus Williams, the slightly “forgotten” Williams sister with so much focus on Serena’s pursuit of one more Grand Slam title to tie the great Margaret Court.
There’s American youngster Amanda Anisimova, the darling of Roland Garros this year, taking on ninth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka. Maria Sharapova, still trying to prove she can be a real threat on tour, facing 16th seeded Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. If Sharapova gets through that, she might face Venus in the second round.
The way the draw sets up, Andreescu – if she gets past Bouchard – could face Angelique Kerber in the second round, re-heating a rivalry from earlier this season. Asheigh Barty, the No. 1 seed could face another young American, Sofia Kenin, in her first match.
Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, meanwhile, could be headed for what would be an appealing quarter-final clash, and the same goes for Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens in what would be a rematch of last year’s Rogers Cup final, won by Halep.
But before we get to all that, we get Andreescu-Bouchard on Tuesday night. Too good to be true? Doesn’t matter now. Game on.