The Canadian Open is one of the biggest tournaments of the North American summer hard court season.
A Masters series event for the men, and a Premier 5 tournament on the women’s tour, it alternates annually between Canada’s biggest cities of Toronto and Montreal.
The Canadian Open is the third oldest tennis tournament in the world behind Wimbledon and the US Open. The men’s competition was first held in 1881 at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club; the first women’s event was staged there in 1892. Sponsorship has changed many times over the years, but since 2005 the tournament is officially known as the Rogers Masters on the ATP Tour, and the Rogers Cup on the WTA.
Like the US Open, the Canadian Open has undergone some major changes during its long and illustrious history. For many years, the tournament was played on clay before switching to hard courts. The venue in Toronto, the National Tennis Stadium, was replaced with the Rexall Centre in 2004, allowing for more spectators and a significant upgrade in facilities. When played in Montreal, the event is held at the Uniprix Stadium, which was built in 1996.
Canadians dominated the tournament during the early amateur era. No competition took place during the world wars, but as the event grew in prestige during the 1950s and 1960s, it began to attract more top players. The great Roy Emerson was victorious in 1964, while Spanish legend Manuel Santana triumphed three years later. Since opening its doors to professional players in 1968, the Canadian Open has become one of the most sought-after hard court trophies on either tour.
The most successful player of the Open Era in Canada is Ivan Lendl. The powerful Czech reached nine finals from 1980 - 1992, and won the title six times. Other multiple winners include Andre Agassi, who lifted the trophy on three occasions, and John McEnroe, a two-time champion.
Since 2004, the tournament has been dominated by the ATP’s “Big Four”: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have each won two titles, and Novak Djokovic won his third title in 2012.
Chris Evert and Monica Seles lead the WTA roll of honour in Canada. Evert won the title four times, and was twice a runner-up, while Seles was unbeatable at the event from 1995 - 1998, winning four trophies in a row. She extended her winning streak by reaching the final in 1999, but lost that year’s showpiece match to Martina Hingis.
Djokovic def. Federer, 2007 final:
In 2007, Roger Federer was the undisputed world number one, while Novak Djokovic was a promising youngster who had yet to prove himself on the biggest stages. In the pair’s first four meetings, the Serb had only managed to win a set, but he produced a superb performance in Montreal to earn his first ever win over Federer. At the end of a tantalisingly close first set, Djokovic stared down six set points and took it on a tie-break, only for Federer to romp through the second. But just when it looked as though the legendary Swiss had asserted himself against the young pretender, Djokovic broke in the opening game of the third set, and had victory within his sights when serving at 4-3. Federer duly broke back, but his less experienced opponent showed excellent concentration and composure, hanging on to force a final set tie-break which he won emphatically. This match finally showed that Djokovic had the game, and the guts, to beat the best.
Video: Djokovic v Federer, 2007
Serena Williams def. Capriati, 2001 final:
Jennifer Capriati had made one of the sport’s most stunning comebacks in 2001, winning the Australian and French Opens, while Serena Williams was still searching for her second Grand Slam title. Capriati had edged Serena in three nail-biting contests earlier in the year, brutal baseline battles between two of the hardest hitting women on tour. In Toronto, the younger American was determined to snap the losing streak, and charged through the first set. The second set was a much tighter affair, however, and Capriati summoned all her fighting spirit to sneak it by 11 points to nine on a tie-break. In the decider, we saw what would become Serena’s trademarks: incredible resolve and courageous shotmaking. Still only 19 years old, she played with a mature head in the closing stages to complete a 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 victory in just over two hours.
Video: Serena v Capriati, 2001
- The men’s tournament is held in Montreal and the women’s in Toronto in odd-numbered years, and vice-versa in even-numbered years.
- In 1995, the Canadian Open was Monica Seles’ first comeback tournament after a two-year break from the game.
- In 1996, Martina Navratilova won the final doubles title of her career in Montreal.
- The Canadian Open uses DecoTurf, the same hard court surface used at the US Open.
- Andy Roddick scored his first ever win over Roger Federer in Montreal in 2003, edging the Swiss in a final set tie-break.
- Indian legend Mahesh Bhupathi has won the Canadian Open doubles title five times, with four different partners.