Swiatek, Raducanu and two Williams headline Toronto sparkling draw

The men’s Canadian Open in Montreal this summer may miss some of its most successful champions, but that’s far from the case in the women’s tournament in Toronto.

The squad includes eight players who held the No. 1 ranking and 15 major champions. Six of the seven remaining active former Canadian Open titlists are in the draw, with only Elina Svitolina missing as she is expecting her first child in October.

And every player in the top 16 of the live leaderboard should fill out the seedings. But that’s not all.

A pair of Williams

Venus Williams took a wildcard in her first main tour singles draw in nearly a year. The remarkable 42-year-old hasn’t won a singles match since Wimbledon 2021, and although she played her first match at this level at the same tournament in 1995, she has only played nine times since and only made it past the third lap once. , in a final round in 2014.

It’s a real coup for the event, especially since her younger sister Serena, soon to be 41, a three-time champion, who played her first match in 12 months at Wimbledon, is also present. Only once in nine previous visits have they failed to qualify for the semi-finals and reached the final in their last appearance, Toronto 2019.

Young stars are also present

23-year-old American Sofia Kenin, who scored so much as the pandemic shutdown approached, has played and won little since but is also making a welcome return to Toronto.

As for the country of origin, there was double good news. 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, who won Indian Wells and Toronto in the same year, continued to struggle with knee and back injuries but returns to Toronto with strong runs on clay and grass this summer.

Not that the draw did him any favors, especially given a back problem in his first loss in San Jose a week ago. She opens against No. 11 seed and San Jose runner-up Daria Kasatkina, despite beating the Russian easily in Bad Homburg.

Also sporting the maple leaf, 19-year-old US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez sat out with a foot injury. Unlike Andreescu, she is still seeded, at 13, but has never won a game in her home 1000. She will need to be in top form to go further this year, drawn into a killer quarter with Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Iga Swiatek, although she should get that first victory against an opening qualifier.

A first half filled with champions

The two Canadians are therefore in a superior semi-final. Andreescu and Kenin are joined in their quarter by two other unranked major champions, Barbora Krejcikova and Sloane Stephens, as well as seeds that include No. 3 and Indian Wells runner-up Maria Sakkari and No. 5 , Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur.

Also present are former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, vice-champion in Montreal last year, and the very fit Caroline Garcia, who has won two titles, on grass and clay, since Roland Garros.

Yet the other top quarter, led by world No. 1 Swiatek, is even more stacked, not least by the presence of Swiatek herself.

Super Swiatek hopes to get back to winning ways

Of the five WTA1000 events contested so far this year, the young Polish star has won four, including three on hard courts in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami. His unbroken streak of titles, beginning in Doha, also included Stuttgart, Rome and Roland Garros, with his 37-game winning streak ended at Wimbledon.

She bypassed all hard-court warm-up events to prepare for the courts in Toronto, where she reached the third round on her debut as an 18-year-old in 2019. However, the superstar of the 2022 season will have their work cut out for them if they are to fulfill their title ambitions.

For starters, she opens against Veronika Kudermetova or Shelby Rogers, San Jose’s semifinal opponents this week. In round 3, she should meet Fernandez, and in the quarters, maybe not struggling Garbine Muguruza, but rather former champion Belinda Bencic – or Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka or this week’s Washington runner-up, Kaia Kanepi. Anyone who excludes Bencic is unranked.

In truth, however, there is no weak quarter anywhere. The first of the lower half-sections, led by Badosa, contains Emma Raducanu, whose stunning US Open victory began to accumulate on the North American swing a year ago, but not at tour level. main. It is therefore his debut in Canada, with two precious victories to his credit in Washington.

The test begins in round 1 with the defending champion, the unranked Camila Giorgi. The third round is also dangerous – Jessica Pegula or Madison Keys – with Badosa and the unranked Petra Kvitova lurking in the quarters.

As for the bottom quarter, led by No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit, former champion Simona Halep will be hoping to bounce back from retirement in sweltering Washington, and Venus Williams will also threaten for a quarter-final berth, along with Sabalenka, Coco Gauff, or possibly Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, unranked, although she has only played and lost one match since London, in San Jose.

First round matches to catch (NB all but one are in the top half)

· Rogers vs. Kudermetova: The two beat big names, Sakkari and Jabeur respectively, to meet in the semi-finals in San Jose. There Rogers won 6-3, 6-4 to reach its first final in six years. Kudermetova has made decent runs on all three surfaces this year, although the Russian was banned from Wimbledon and made two hard-court finals, including Dubai.

· Bencic vs. Azarenka: All of Azarenka’s 1000 titles have been won on hot, hard courts, including multiple victories in Indian Wells, Miami and Cincinnati. Three times she has reached the semi-finals in Canada, but she will have to beat a former champion in Bencic; the two have not met for three years.

· Kanepi vs Osaka: Kanepi, 37, who is playing in Washington’s final this weekend, is a player no one wants to see in the early rounds. In her long career, she has reached quarterbacks at all four Majors plus four 1000s, but her four titles have all come at the lower levels. Still, she has a big match when she sings, as does, of course, Osaka, who lost her only match to Kanepi at the 2017 US Open. The Japanese star won the title there the following year, as well as three other hard-court majors. A runner-up in Miami, she played for the first time since the French Open in San Jose, losing a showcase match to Gauff in the second round. It could provide the perfect launch pad for another North American push.

Others to watch…

· Stephens vs. Kenin: Two former hard-court major champions, both Americans, in a first encounter.

· Pliskova vs. Krejcikova: A former No. 1 and US Open runner-up faces the former French Open champion for the first time since their three-setter match at the WTA Finals last November.

Kasatkina v Andreescu: The former Canadian champion has two wins over the Russian, but Kasatkina beat Wimbledon champion Rybakina plus Sabalenka and Badosa to reach the San Jose final, having made the semis in Rome and Roland Garros .

Raducanu vs. Giorgi: The Briton is making her debut in the city where she was born, so she will have plenty of support as she takes on the defending champion, even though Giorgi has just lost her seventh game of the first round of the year in San Jose.

2022 WTA winners on outdoor hard courts

Melbourne Summer Set 1: Halep
Melbourne Summer Set 2: Amanda Anisimova
Sydney: Badosa
Adelaide 250: Keys
Australian Open: Barty [now retired]
Dubai: Jelena Ostapenko
Doha: Swiatek
Guadalajara: Stephens
Monterrey: Fernandez
Indian wells: Swiatek
Miami: Swiatek
Prague: Marie Bouzcova
Washington: Kanepi final against Liudmila Samsonova
San Jose: Rogers vs. Kasatkina final

Former champions in the draw

Giorgi [defending]Andreescu, Halep [twice]Bencic, Serena Williams [three times]Kvitova

Missing 16 seeds

Danielle Collins

also absent

Ekaterina Alexandrova, Angelique Kerber, Irina-Camelia Begu, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Sorana Cîrstea, Alison Van Uytvanck, Marketa Vondroušová

Attracts 56 women, including 16 seeds (eight with first-round byes)

Top half, led by Swiatek

R2 Kudermetova or Rogers

R3 First seeded Fernandez

QF If the seeds hold, Bencic/Muguruza; Azarenka/Serena Williams/Osaka also here

SF If the seeds hold, Sakkari/Jabeur; Pliskova/Kasatkina/Kenin/Andreescu/Garcia also here

Bottom half led by Kontaveit

R2 Venus Williams or Jil Teichmann

R3 First Seeded Halep

QF If the seeds hold, Sabalenka/Gauff; Rybakina also here

SF If the seeds hold, Pegula/Badosa; Raducanu/Kvitova/Jelena Ostapenko also here

Update: Azarenka was forced to withdraw from the Toronto draw because her visa was not approved by Canadian authorities.

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