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Road to the NBO...

Road to the NBO Montreal: Iga, Maria, and a wedding

The transition continues in the WTA as this week’s matches play out on the hard and clay courts. But it was in the grasses of a beach in her native Sweden that a WTA player said yes to a touching proposal by Canadian Denis Shapovalov. With less than ten days to go before the National Bank Open, here’s what you need to know.

DAYS BEFORE THE NATIONAL BANK OPEN: 13

On-court action 

Lucky loser, proud winner

Photo : Twitter

On July 23, World No. 246 Maria Timofeeva of Russia wrote her very own fairy tale when she turned the tides at the Hungarian Grand Prix and raised the winner’s trophy after dropping her qualifying match.

The 19-year-old lucky loser, who got her ticket to the main draw when a competitor bowed out, powered through all five of her matches against higher-ranked players, namely No. 222 Daria Saville, No. 110 Diana Shnaider, No. 169 Kaja Juvan, No .80 Nadia Podoroska and No. 100 Kateryna Baindl.

Photo : Zuma/Panoramic

And it was no easy feat, since four of her five battles went to three sets.

Her dream week boosted her ranking up 117 spots to No. 129. But more importantly, the virtual unknown joined Coco Gauff and Andrey Rublev in the record books.

Read also: 2023 National Bank Open Montreal Players - Meet the Canadians

Maria Timofeeva is now the fourth (and oldest) woman to shift up from lucky loser to champion. Andrea Jaeger and Coco Gauff were only 15 years old and Olga Danilovic was 17 when they did it.

WTA

  • Andrea Jaeger - Las Vegas (1980)
  • Olga Danilovic - Moscow (2018)
  • Coco Gauff - Linz (2019)
  • Maria Timofeeva - Budapest (2023)

In the ATP, 10 men have orchestrated a reversal of fortune. Fun fact: Andrey Rublev and Marco Cecchinato went from lucky loser to champion within a week of each other.

ATP

  • Heinz Gunthardt - Springfield (1978)
  • Bill Scanlon - Maui (1978)
  • Francisco Clavet - Hilversum (1980)
  • Christian Miniussi - Sao Paulo (1991)
  • Sergiy Stakhovsky - Zagreb (2008)
  • Rajeev Ram - Newport (2009)
  • Andrey Rublev - Umag (2017)
  • Leonardo Mayer - Hamburg (2017)
  • Marco Cecchinato - Budapest (2018)
  • Soon-Woo Kwon - Adelaide 2 (2023)

This week, Timofeeva is focused on building momentum on the clay courts at the German Open in Hamburg.

Stories to watch

Iga Swiatek: there’s no place like home


Photo : Getty

The transitional tournaments between the grass and hard court seasons continue in the WTA.

While most of the Top 20 are training (or nursing injuries), the World No. 1 is competing in front of her fellow Varsovians. At the Poland Open—the first tournament that isn’t on clay since the end of Wimbledon—she’s seeded first, just ahead of No. 18 Karolina Muchova of Czechia.

Read also: 2023 National Bank Open Montreal Players - Meet the WTA Top 10

The rest of the Top 10 are still on holidays. Some, like Coco Gauff and Maria Sakkari who were eliminated in the first round of Wimbledon, get an entire month off, while the others get a three-week break.

But back to Iga. With an easier draw than last year, it’s safe to assume she’ll find her way to the quarters, where she lost to Caroline Garcia in 2022. Except that last year’s tournament was on clay.

And while we’re on the topic of clay, there are two other events on the dirt this week.

Photo : Getty

At the Ladies Open in Lausanne, all eyes are on 16-year-old Russian sensation Mirra Andreeva, who’s back in action after a great run to the round of 16 at Wimbledon. The current No.64 is seeded sixth in Switzerland.

Meanwhile in Hamburg, No.22 Donna Vekic of Croatia is the favourite. She’s coming off a fantastic week at the Hopman Cup, a mixed exhibition tournament she won with Borna Coric in Nice, France.

Off-court buzz

Love match

Photo : Kate Gabor

On July 20, a gorgeous black-and-white photo of Swedish player Mirjam Bjorklund being proposed to by Canada’s own Denis Shapovalov was posted online by the happy couple.

The news came as no surprise, since the two have been together for several years. The shared passion for tennis that brought them together blossomed into a real love match.

Read also: Remembering Venus Williams’ Montreal Debut

In Bastad, Sweden, international photographer Kate Gabor captured the beautiful moment to mark this new chapter in the couples’ life.

Photos : Kate Gabor/Instagram

Mirjam and Denis are actually among the rather surprising number of WTA–ATP pairs.

There’s no doubt that the most talked-about love match these days is Paula Badosa and Stefanos Tsitsipas. You’d have to live cut off from the world not to have seen one of Tsitsidosa’s many, many Instagram posts.

Ditto for Elina Svitolina and Gael Monfils.

Here are a few more tennis couples you may (or may not) know about:

  • Katie Boulter (GB) and Alex de Minaur (AUS)
  • Madison Keys (US) and Bjorn Fratangelo (US)
  • Daria Gavrilova (AUS) and Luke Saville (AUS)
  • Katerina Siniakova (CZ) and Tomas Machac (CZ)
  • Eden Silva (GB) and Liam Broady (GB)
  • Anastasia Potapova (RUS) and Alexander Shevchenko (RUS)
Photo : Instagram
Photo : Getty
Photo : Instagram
Photo : Instagram


Photo : Instagram
Photo : Instagram

The WTA's best return to Montreal this summer for the National Bank Open August 4 to 13 at IGA Stadium. Tickets are on sale. Get your tickets today!