The hard courts of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank and the clay surface of the French Open have never had much in common – or do they?
On one hand, you have professional tennis’ most prevalent surface. The outdoor hard courts of Rogers Cup are generally quicker than most of their North American counterparts and the bounce remains true and predictable. As evidenced by the variety of past champions, both explosive defence and hard hitting can be rewarded on this grippy, neutralizing surface.
On the other hand, clay requires flexibility, adaptability and balance. The slow, high-bouncing conditions of Paris’ picturesque terre battu cater to the game’s more creative players and those with the physical stamina required to endure exhausting hours of tennis.
With the year’s second Grand Slam just around the corner, let’s have a look at how French Open champions of the past 15 years have fared at Rogers Cup – and how Rogers Cup winners did at the French Open just a few months prior.
Here are a few takeaways from this cross-tournament statistical comparison:
It’s no secret that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have been pillars of consistency at the sport’s highest level, winning 40 of 45 major tournaments since 2005. Their dominance at major tournaments has likewise trickled down to the Masters 1000 events, of which Rogers Cup is one.
Whereas prior to 2005 the French Open champion rarely performed well at Rogers Cup, every year after saw a more consistent performance (when they chose to play in Canada), meaning Canada’s tennis fans got to see the year’s second major winner go deep into the draws more often. Nadal has obviously accounted for an overwhelming majority of French Open victories over the years and therefore the trends in the graph often reflect his own performance at Rogers Cup – one of his most successful hard court Masters.
Although recent champs Belinda Bencic and Agnieszka Radwanska didn’t fare too well on the Parisian clay, results in the early-to-mid 2000s saw a strong French Open correlated with a strong Rogers Cup. This suggests a level of consistency amongst the world’s top players that has been more absent in the recent years (2008-2015, with the exception of Serena’s Rogers Cup-French Open double in 2013).
For a period of time, Rogers Cup Hall-of-Famer Justine Henin’s consistency at the French Open mirrored Nadal’s and her mastery of clay was as equal a force on hard courts. She made three Rogers Cup finals (all in Toronto) during her stay at the top of the women’s game, winning two of them.
With the exception of Bencic, Radwanska and 2009 champion Elena Dementieva, all 2000-2015 Rogers Cup winners were either Grand Slam champions or World No.1’s – and since the year 2000, 6 of 10 different French Open champions have either won or made the final of Rogers Cup.
On the men’s side, although Nadal’s recent monopoly of the French Open has made it hard for anyone other than himself to pair La Coupe des Mousquetaires with a Rogers Cup championship, Federer managed to get both into his trophy case when he finally managed to win the French Open in 2009. Djokovic, Murray and our 2014 champ Jo-Wilfried Tsonga all have a shot a completing the double at this year’s major tournament in Paris.
Want to see a French Open champ in action this summer? Be sure to get your tickets for the 2016 Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.