Simona Halep is in the running for the World No. 1 ranking this summer. Her result in Washington won't help her that much as she went out in the quarterfinals to Ekaterina Makarova. However, Halep pulled out of the match in the early third set claiming she “had a headache” and felt a "little sick” (Halep qtd. in The Washington Post/August 4th). It was a hot day in Washington, and that heat appeared to be a factor in Halep discontinuing her efforts. The official draw sheet for the 2017 Citi Open lists "Heat Illness" as the reason for her retirement.

Halep will be fresh for Canada

However, from the point of view of her fans at least pulling out with a headache isn't the same as being injured. Halep remains on the players' list for the 2017 Rogers Cup and her not playing tennis this weekend in Washington will help her rest up for the biggest event. Halep is also the defending champion at the Rogers Cup where she defeated Angelique Kerber in the final last season.

Had the Romanian made the final in Washington this weekend she would have been in a very difficult spot. With no rest ahead of Montreal she would have been a withdrawal risk or a risk to do poorly in the early rounds. In short, giving up a chance to gain 280 ranking points in Washington might have been the strategic thing to do.

The Rogers Cup offers 900 ranking points to a champion, and that is a points total that will make a lot more of a difference in the competition for top spot.

Washington missing its stars

The tournament in Washington now lacks a bright light. Eugenie Bouchard went out earlier this week, and with Halep now out, there are only lesser-known favorites.

Julia Goerges is the now the highest seed remaining in the tournament, the German fourth-seeded in the event. She will face fellow-German Andrea Petkovic in one semifinal while Makarova will contest Oceane Dodin in the other semifinal.

Looking ahead to Toronto, Halep is the second-seeded player in the women's singles draw. She has a first-round bye meaning that she will play her second-round match on several days' rest.

In that match, it's possible that she might face Madison Keys. While that match looks difficult on paper, this is where the real benefit of not losing in Washington might pay off. Keys, after all, is still alive in the Stanford draw this weekend and the American doesn't have a first-round bye in Toronto.

If Keys makes the second round of the Rogers Cup she should be primed and ready for a fatigue-induced loss. In fact, if Keys makes the Stanford final it won't be surprising to see her lose in the Rogers Cup's first round or pull out given the struggles with injuries she has had at this point in her career.