TORONTO, Canada - Since 1892 the best women's tennis players in the world have showcased their skills at what is now known as the Rogers Cup - only Wimbledon and the US Open are longer-running - and the 2013 field is an absolutely star-studded one, highlighted by the World No.1, Serena Williams.
Williams has been the clear-cut best player in the world for about 16 months now, going 99-5 since the start of last year's clay court season and picking up 14 WTA titles in that span - seven last year (including Wimbledon and the US Open) and seven more this year (including the French Open). And this has been a fantastic tournament for her as well - she has won it twice, both times in Toronto as well, in 2001 (beating Jennifer Capriati in the final) and 2011 (beating Sam Stosur in the final).
Rounding out the Top 8 seeds are Agnieszka Radwanska, Li Na, Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova, Marion Bartoli and Angelique Kerber. Kvitova is the defending champion at this event; Li and Bartoli are playing for the first time since Wimbledon, where they both did very well - Bartoli very, very well.
There are also a few Grand Slam champions among the unseeded contingent: Francesca Schiavone in Williams' section, Svetlana Kuznetsova in the qualifying and last but not least Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1 who will be playing her first tournament since the French Open. She faces Flipkens in the first round and could face her sister in the third round.
One more player to watch is Alisa Kleybanova, a former Top 20 player who has been working her way back into form on the ITF Circuit over the last few months and makes her WTA-level comeback here.
Meanwhile, halfway across the world, the newest stop on the WTA 125K Series stream of tournaments, the CAOXIJIU Suzhou Ladies Open, takes place in Suzhou, China. This is the second of five WTA 125K Series events this year - Cali took place in February and Ningbo, Nanjing and Taipei in the fall.