The Rogers Cup, presented by National Bank, will be played on the campus of York University in Toronto from August 5 to 13, 2017. A WTA Premier 5 Event, the tournament is a major part of the build-up to the US Open. Last season, the final of the event saw Simona Halep defeat Madison Keys. This year's players' list includes both of those players as well as numerous others, such as former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova, who is currently in California playing in an exhibition event, had to miss the Rogers Cup last season due to her suspension.

The news of that suspension, which resulted from a positive test for meldonium, rocked the tennis world in early 2016. But she has featured heavily in the marketing for the 2017 Rogers Cup in the Canadian media of late. For instance, the commercials that highlighted the event during Wimbledon 2017 featured both Sharapova and Canadian player Eugenie Bouchard.

The two players aren't exactly friends as Bouchard called for a life-time ban for Sharapova earlier this season. Furthermore, neither player is exactly qualified for the tournament based on rankings. They are the lowest-ranked players listed on the players' list for the 2017 Rogers Cup, a list that is subject to change.

Sharapova has a spotty history at the Rogers Cup

Sharapova has not actually contested the Rogers Cup draw since the 2014 season. Furthermore, even that season was a little bit of an anomaly for her. In the last five seasons including 2011 to 2016, Sharapova missed the Rogers Cup, for one reason or another, four times. She was in the 2009 final, a match that she lost to Elena Dementieva, but that result represents the only appearance in the final of the event for Sharapova.

The first time that she contested the draw was way back in 2003.

Other big names that are expected in Toronto in early August, include World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, a player who promises to figure immensely in the outcome. Venus Williams, the Wimbledon 2017 runnerup, is also on the players' list as is champion Garbine Muguruza.

Sharapova needs the points

The tournament is very important for Sharapova. It's certainly not every significant event on the WTA Tour that she is getting an entry into. Noting that her Wild Card application at the French Open was declined, Sharapova can't take entry into any tournament for granted as her ranking is not high enough to guarantee an automatic bid.

However, if she places very high in Toronto then the ranking points may be enough that she won't have to bother with wild cards. For that reason, Toronto represents a special opportunity for her and she is under pressure. If she does poorly, then she might be at risk of having to challenge lesser draws to try and build herself up again. But if she does well enough in early August, then she can bypass that.