Rogers Cup 2014: The Top Storylines to Watch in Canada

Merlisa Lawrence CorbettFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2014

Rogers Cup 2014: The Top Storylines to Watch in Canada

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    Rafael Nadal takes his traditional trophy bite after winning the 2013 Rogers Cup.
    Rafael Nadal takes his traditional trophy bite after winning the 2013 Rogers Cup.USA TODAY Sports

    The post-Wimbledon lull is over. A few quaint tournaments, in places ranging from Atlanta to Kitzbuhel, Austria, filled the schedule but lacked star power.  

    After brief retreats, elite players, those in the Top 10, are set to return to the courts next week for the Rogers Cup in Canada. 

    The Rogers Cup features two tournaments. The ATP Tour's event takes place in Toronto. The WTA Tour meets in Montreal. Both get underway Aug. 4.

    Yes, the big boys and grown girls are back, with 15 of the Top 16-ranked players slated to play in each event. 

    It will be Novak Djokovic's first tournament since he won Wimbledon and married his childhood sweetheart, Jelena Ristic. 

    Serena Williams is set to defend her title and restore some stability to her turbulent summer. 

    Meanwhile, expect to see maple leaves and a sea of red as Canadians welcome home locals Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic. Their success at Wimbledon has boosted ticket sales

    With the biggest names all back, and mostly healthy, this year's Rogers Cup offers several compelling storylines.

Just How Good Is Francoise Abanda?

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    Francoise Abanda, a top Canadian junior's player, received a wild card to qualifiers.
    Francoise Abanda, a top Canadian junior's player, received a wild card to qualifiers.Dan Istitene/Getty Images

    Francoise Abanda and her older sister, Elizabeth Abanda, were once compared to the Williams sisters. The older sister is away at college. It's the younger sister who has garnered the backing of Tennis Canada.

    Abanda was offered a wild card to qualifying rounds of the Rogers Cup. Tennis Canada is easing Abanda into her professional career similar to Bouchard's rollout. 

    Only 17, Abanda gets a chance to showcase her talent in front of an adoring home crowd.

Novak Djokovic's Post-Wimbledon and Wedding Return

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    Novak Djokovic kisses his trophy after winning the 2014 Wimbledon men's final.
    Novak Djokovic kisses his trophy after winning the 2014 Wimbledon men's final.Ben Curtis/Associated Press

    Djokovic arrives in Canada with another Wimbledon title, the No. 1 ranking and a new bride. He's also expecting his first child. 

    That's a whole bunch of life to carry around this summer. Will these life-changing events boost or burden his play? His performance at the Rogers Cup could offer an answer.

Eugenie Bouchard's Homecoming

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    Eugenie Bouchard poses with Petra Kvitova during Wimbledon trophy ceremony.
    Eugenie Bouchard poses with Petra Kvitova during Wimbledon trophy ceremony.USA TODAY Sports

    Bouchard is only 20, but she's already reached royal status in Canada. Princess Eugenie, as she's sometimes called, returns to her loyal subjects.

    Bouchard has made it to at least the semifinals of all the Grand Slams this year. She's having a better year than No. 1 Williams. However, Bouchard's spanking at the hands of Petra Kvitova brought her soaring star status down closer to earth.

    The setting and the field is set for Bouchard to make a statement. A win over Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams would electrify the Canadian crowd.

Andy Murray Attempts to Rebound from Wimbledon

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    Andy Murray during Wimbledon loss to Grigor Dimitrov.
    Andy Murray during Wimbledon loss to Grigor Dimitrov.Associated Press

    One of the more stunning developments this summer has to be Andy Murray's pitiful exit from Wimbledon. He looked bewildered in his straight-sets loss to Grigor Dimitrov. 

    Failing to defend his title meant dropping to No. 10 and nearly two seasons' worth of points behind Djokovic.

Grigor Dimitrov Seeks to Back Up Wimbledon Performance

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    Grigor Dimitrov tries to slide his way to the ball during the Wimbledon semifinals.
    Grigor Dimitrov tries to slide his way to the ball during the Wimbledon semifinals.Al Bello/Getty Images

    With Sharapova on his arm and a Wimbledon semifinals appearance in the books, Dimitrov comes to Canada seeking to solidify his star status. 

    He's ranked No. 9, but due to Juan Martin del Potro's withdrawal, Dimitrov gets the No. 8 seed and a first-round bye. Will Dimitrov's temperament catch up to his talent? If it does, look out Canada.

Serena Williams Seeks to Steady Game

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    Serena Williams tries to maintain her balance during a second-round doubles match at Wimbledon.
    Serena Williams tries to maintain her balance during a second-round doubles match at Wimbledon.Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    Williams returns to Canada to defend her title. Like last year, she is the No. 1 player and coming off a surprise upset at Wimbledon. But unlike last year, there are far more questions about her game.

    Some questions may be answered in her appearance at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford. However, the stronger field at the Rogers Cup will provide a more complete picture.

Nadal and Djokovic's Battle for No. 1

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    Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic embrace at the net, after Nadal won the 2014 French Open.
    Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic embrace at the net, after Nadal won the 2014 French Open.Dan Istitene/Getty Images

    Rafael Nadal and Djokovic each has won a Grand Slam this year. Both have taken turns at No. 1. The U.S. Open Series, culminating with the U.S. Open, will serve as a showdown for the No. 1 ranking.

    Fewer than 500 points separate the two. Federer, ranked No. 3, is a distant third. He has less than half the points of Nadal.