The first WTA 1000 tournament ahead of the US Open begins Monday with the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Toronto, Canada, to be held at York University’s Sobey’s Stadium, where 9 of the top 10 will return in action, the only absentee being Danielle Collins, who withdrew last week due to an ongoing neck injury.
I know there are a lot of players who have done even more, but I’m pretty proud of what I did in the first part of the season. I hope it gives me some freedom to play freely because I have nothing to prove. On the other hand, it can also put pressure on me, so I just try not to think about what happened, but prepare for what is to come. Iga Świątek
The field will be tough, with 41 of the Tour’s top 43 players competing, led by world number 1 Iga Swiatek, and including unranked players such as Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu, who returns home after his break from tennis. due to mental health issues, all of the draw’s dangerous floats.
Swiatek and 4 other Grand Slam champions all landed in the top quarter, while in the bottom half, 9th seed Emma Raducanu has a tough first-round test against defending champion Camila Giorgi.
World No. 2 Anett Kontaveit, No. 3 Maria Sakkari, Indian Wells 2021 champion Paula Badosa and Madrid Open champion Ons Jabeur complete the top 5.
The tournament was a breakthrough for Swiatek in her last appearance here in 2019, when she was an 18-year-old ranked 65 qualifier and went on to beat Caroline Wozniacki in the Round of 16, and left a lasting impression against Osaka in her next game, despite falling in straight sets.
“Remembering that, I can see how much work I put in and how different I feel right now,” Swiatek told reporters Saturday at Media Day in Toronto. “Every practice back then, I was studying and seeing how I’m going to feel, seeing who I could play, who was too strong for me.
“Those two matches I played, against Caroline Wozniacki and Naomi, were the two matches that made me feel like I could do something.”
Swiatek is relieved to be back on stable ground, having competed on grass at Wimbledon, and she hit the hard courts for practice before returning to clay to compete in her home event in Warsaw, where she found the transition tricky and narrowly lost to eventual champion Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals.
The Polish seed set a new record for the longest winning streak in the 21st century, winning 37 matches in a row earlier this year, and she won the French Open and 4 WTA 1000 titles over the course of this period to start.
Swiatek says all the stats and stats around “The Streak” are now behind her.
“I know there are a lot of players who have done even more, but I’m pretty proud of what I did in the first part of the season,” Swiatek said. “I hope it gives me some freedom to play freely because I have nothing to prove.
“On the other hand, it can also put pressure on me, so I just try not to think about what happened, but prepare for what’s to come.”
With a 1st round bye, Swiatek has a tough task ahead of her as she awaits the winner of the opener between San Jose semifinalist Veronika Kudermetova and Shelby Rogers, who reached the Washington final without losing. a set. .
The 13th seed and local favorite, Leylah Fernandez, is also present in her section.
The Canadian opens against a qualifier and could be Swiatek’s 3rd-round contender, while the top-seeded quarter-final opponent in her first hard-court tournament of the summer is the No. 8 Garbiñe Muguruza, who must first face the winner between Washington finalist Kaia Kanepi and Osaka, a former world number 1.
The Spaniard, however, pulled out of this week’s event in San Jose through injury.
Busy term also includes unseeded Serena Williams, who plays her first hard court event in 18 months and opens against a qualifier, while the American could then face the winner of the 1st round match between Azarenka and the 12th seeded Belinda Bencic.
There are actually 9 big winners in the first half of the general classification and, in the second quarter, the Czechs Karolina Pliskova, seeded 14, and the Roland Garros 2021 champion Barbora Krejcikova will face off to start, while Andreescu is the first challenge for No. 11 seed Daria Kasatkina, runner-up in San Jose.
Andreescu has fond memories of the courts in Toronto, training here as a child and then picking up 6 wins in her remarkable run to the 2019 title.
The world number 54 arrives as the published author of a children’s picture book, Bibi’s Got Game, and an ambassador for Tennis Canada’s new wellness project, called Mental Timeout.
The initiative includes new mental health resources for players on-site at this year’s WTA event in Toronto and the ATP tournament in Montreal, including one-on-one access to meditation and yoga experts, as well as relaxation areas.
“I know I am not alone. I had the chance to talk to legends like Billie Jean King and Kim Clijsters who gave me incredible advice,” said Andreescu. “I try not to take life too seriously.
“You just have to take a deep breath. I don’t want to feel so stressed. I obviously want to win and do well, but at the same time I want to have fun. It’s a game of tennis, you know?
No. 3 seed Maria Sakkari who has a potential Swiatek semi-final meeting with No. 5 seed Ons Jabeur opens against the winner of the all-American opener between 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens and 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin.
In the bottom half of the draw, 2nd seed Kontaveit opens against the winner of the match between Jil Teichmann and wildcard Venus Williams, who played her first match of the summer this week at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. , where she was beaten in the 1st round by Canadian Rebecca Marino.
Other bottom-half highlights include a potential second-round meeting between 10th-seeded Coco Gauff and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who will both face qualifiers in their first matches.
The Montreal and Toronto tournaments were canceled in 2020 and held with limited crowds in 2021.
Gyles Diaz/Tennis Canada
Meanwhile, qualifying for the main draw began on Saturday and, 3 years after reaching the semis here, No. 1 seed Marie Bouzkova began her campaign for another deep run in Toronto, passing past Valentini Grammatikopoulou of Greece, 6-2 6-0, in the first match on center court at Sobeys Stadium.
The Czech No. 4, who equaled her career ranking of No. 46 in the world after winning her first WTA title in Prague, will face No. 15 seed Tatjana Maria of Germany for a place in the table on Sunday. coveted main.
Maria, who is still fresh from an inspired run to the Wimbledon semi-finals earlier this summer, won the opening set, 6-1, against Heather Watson before the Briton was forced to retire.
After winning the wild-card qualifying tournament to secure her spot in the draw, Marina Stakusic advanced to the final qualifying round after her opponent, China’s Wang Xinyu, was also forced to retire. after the first set.
The 17-year-old has an opportunity to join Andreescu, Fernandez and Marino as the only Canadians in the main draw, but she will have her work cut out against 8th seed Czech Tereza Martincova, who beat the ‘American Emina Bektas, 6 -3 7-5.
2-seeded Nuria Parrizas Diaz overcame an early deficit to knock out 17-year-old Canadian wildcard Kayla Cross 7-6(2) 6-0 in a junior girls’ doubles final at the Open. Australia and at Wimbledon earlier this year.
For a place in the main draw, Parrizas Diaz will now face compatriot Cristina Bucsa, who toppled No. 14 seed Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 6-3 6-3.
Stakusic will be the only Canadian to enter the 2nd qualifying round after 15-year-old Victoria Mboko lost to 10th seeded USA Claire Liu in a tight 3-set 3-6 6-3 6-4 match .
In the first upset of the day, American Asia Muhammad knocked out No. 6 seed and former quarter-finalist Andrea Petkovic, 6-3, 6-2, despite being broken 3 times and broken 7 times herself as the German unravels by her. own unforced errors.
Muhammad will face 12th-seeded Croatian Donna Vekic, who is trying to rebuild her rankings since a knee injury left her outside the top 100, and beat Israeli Lina Glushko, 6-4 6-2 .
4-seeded Madison Brengle kicked off her swing on the North American hard court with a 6-2 6-4 win over French wildcard Elsa Jacquemot, ending a five-game losing streak.
The crafty American will face compatriot Christina McHale, who beat Grace Min, 6-3 6-4, for a spot in her 3rd main draw north of the border.
No. 7 seed Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia overcame a stern challenge from compatriot Kimberly Birrell, 7-5 7-6 (5), to set up a meeting with Britain’s 11th seed Harriet Dart, who beat the Dutch Arianne Hartono, 6-3 6-3.
Other opening day winners included 16th seed Lauren Davis, after the American beat Germany’s Laura Siegemund, 6-3 6-3; Australian Storm Sanders, who beat American Catherine Harrison, 6-0 7-5; and Australian Ellen Perez, who eliminated her compatriot Priscilla Hon, 6-4 7-6(2).
The second and final qualifying round will take place on Sunday, after which 8 players will advance to the main draw of the 2022 National Bank Open presented by Rogers.