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National Bank Open Ready to rock at full capacity




By Mike McIntyre (@McIntyreTennis), co-host of Contest Point Canada, the official Tennis Canada podcast.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year if you’re a tennis fan in Canada! The National Bank Open presented by Rogers is once again ready to rock the Sobeys Stadium and will do so at full capacity for the first time since 2019.

The importance of getting Canada’s first tennis event back to full strength cannot be underestimated. As tournament director Karl Hale told me recently, it’s really important for the growth of our sport. More than 80% of our revenue comes from this event for our sport in Canada. This is where fans get inspired to see the best athletes in the world, so it’s really important for Canadian tennis at all those levels – community tennis, but also globally we have over 150 million viewers worldwide, so it’s the biggest tournament of all. a week in the world that many people don’t realize.

This year, the WTA’s best players come to Toronto to take their hard court matches to the next level and were lucky enough to have an incredibly talented group competing for the trophy on Sunday, August 14e. That group is led by new No. 1 Iga Witek, who has broken away from the pack this year by winning a second Major title of his career at Roland Garros and building up a 37-game win that will take place in Dubai from February. lasted. to a third-round defeat at Wimbledon earlier this summer.

Win, Lose or Draw

Members of the media and tournament officials took to the highest point in Toronto on Friday for the highly anticipated unveiling of the National Bank Open 2022 draw on top of the CN Tower. In attendance was the aforementioned Iga Witek who helped with the proceedings alongside Leylah Annie Fernandez. After the first sixteen seeds were evenly distributed in the draw, it was time to see where everyone else would enter.

First and foremost, where have our Canadians landed?

Canadian hopes will be carried by WTA No. 14 Fernandez, who surprised the tennis world last summer with her incredible run to the US Open final. A foot fracture has sidelined the young Canadian star since she reached the quarter-finals of the French Open in May, but Fernandez declared she is ready to go here in Toronto, having been given the green light from her doctor last week.

Belinda Bencic. Photo: Mike McIntyre

Fernandez has drawn a yet-to-be-named qualifier in a best-case scenario for her as she returns from injury. A possible third round match against Witek was revealed with the two players sitting just a few feet apart during the ceremony, prompting Fernandez to playfully say Hello! as she looked over her shoulder at Witek and smiled.

As for our 2019 champion, Bianca Andreescu has drawn world No. 12 Daria Kasatkina in the opening round. Andreescu hopes to be able to rely on good vibes from her latest appearance in Toronto, where she overthrew Kasatkina 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in the second round.

The inspirational Rebecca Marino, who at thirty-one plays like she’s entered a time-warp, had a stellar run in Washington DC last week at the Citi Open, beating Venus Williams in the opening round before falling in the quarterfinals. Marino signed Qinwen Zheng in her Toronto opener. Carol Zhao and Katherine Sebov are the last two Canadian wildcard entries to the main draw and will try to take advantage of this great opportunity while playing for supportive fans. They will face up and coming talent Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva respectively in their openers.

The Williams sisters should challenge opponents despite a lack of play in the past 12 months. Both sisters kick off their campaigns on the first day of the event, with Serena will play a qualifying match on Monday during the day and big sister Venus later that evening against Jil Teichmann. Don’t miss your chance to catch them for probably the last time here in Toronto!

Marina Stakusi. Photo: Mike McIntyre

Other tempting first-round encounters include 2015 champion Belinda Bencic against two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka (the winner could face Serena!). Fellow Americans (as well as Major title holders) Sloane Stephens and Sofia Kenin will face each other in their first game. Meanwhile, 2021 Omnium Banque National winner in Montreal Camila Giorgi has to start her title defense against US Open winner Emma Raducanu, who happens to be born in Toronto, though she represents Great Britain in international competitions.

The bottom line is we have one of the best draws the WTA has seen in a long time and maybe this is the reward for waiting three years to see the best female tennis players in the world come back to us here in Toronto!

Around the site

On Friday, at Sobeys Stadium, many National Bank Open presented by Rogers participants were in full swing on the practice courts preparing for the start of the qualifying tournament and main draw action. Serena and Venus Williams, who landed in Toronto earlier in the day, were greeted by Karl Hale and by late afternoon they were already on their way to prepare each other for their expected return to Canadian soil.

Bianca Jolie Fernandez. Photo: Mike McIntyre

2015 champion Belinda Bencic had an intense practice set with World No. 2 Anett Kontaveit on the Tribune as young Canadian hopeful Victoria Mboko, who recently won a 25K pro tournament in Saskatoon, prepared for her qualifying debut on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Bianca Jolie Fernandez, the younger sister of Leylah Annies, fell in the final of a tough pre-qualifying tournament for young Canadian talents 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Marina Stakusic, who is now through to the actual qualifying draw. this weekend. Though she doesn’t hit as hard as her big sister, Bianca Jolie has the same tenacious determination on the pitch and looks poised for future success with her dedication to following in the footsteps of Leylah Annies.

From the archive

Eugenie Bouchard (left). Photo: Mike McIntyre

I’m thrilled to be writing daily for Tennis Canada during the tournament and instead of my unofficial tennis writing mentor, the legendary Tom Tebbutt. Tom always ended his tournament articles with a review of past National Bank Opens and in tribute to him I will continue that exercise. Here’s a 2015 photo of me in Toronto of the Next Gen version of the Genie Army who was there that year to support Genie Bouchard at the drawing ceremony. Genie is getting closer to a return to action and we look forward to seeing her back on the track healthy and soon!




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