The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

A well-deserved victory for Iga Swiatek in Rome

May 19, 2021

Nineteen-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland impressed many with her performance at the Italian Open in Rome, especially in her 6-0, 6-0 win over Czech Karolina Pliskova in the final.

Following the triumph, Swiatek improved her ranking by six places and dislodged Pliskova from the no. 9 spot in the world rankings, which are still led by Australian Ashleigh Barty.

The Pole removed everything in her path on Italian soil. She eliminated Americans Alison Riske and Madison Keys, Czech Barbora Krejcikova, fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina and booked her spot in the finals thanks to a win over young American Coco Gauff.

Her incredible run in Rome gave Swiatek her first WTA 1000 title. Will the Polish player be able to continue her winning ways and successfully defend her French Open crown in a few weeks?

Breathtaking Performances

Several Top 10 players were on hand in Rome, including the top 3: Barty, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep. However, a few players managed to stand out during the tournament and create some surprises.

Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova, ranked no. 28 in the world, knocked off no. 14 Elise Mertens in three sets and then Caroline Garcia in the next round before losing to Barty.

For the second week in a row, Osaka was defeated in the second round, this time at the hands of Jessica Pegula (ranked 31st at the time of the tournament). The American went on to reach the quarterfinals and she will definitely be one to watch at Roland-Garros starting May 30th.

Clay suits Gauff perfectly. After a tough first round, the American managed to get past no. 17 Maria Sakkari and no. 7 Aryna Sabalenka, who was crowned champion in Madrid the week before. In the quarterfinals, the 17-year-old took advantage of Barty’s withdrawal due to injury to reach her first semifinal of a WTA 1000 tournament. It was eventual champion Swiatek who ended her run.

Fichman Makes the Most of Her Opportunity

A nice surprise for Canadian tennis in doubles! Toronto’s Sharon Fichman and her Mexican partner Giuliana Olmos, who earned a spot in the main draw after Barty and Jennifer Brady withdrew, took full advantage of their opportunity in Rome. They defeated top-seeded Mertens and Su-Wei Hsieh in the second round and then won in three sets over Gauff and Kudermetova in the quarterfinals. In the final four, Fichman and Olmos continued their winning ways by defeating fourth-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan. In the final, the Canadian-Mexican tandem had to overcome a one-set deficit for the fourth time in the tournament before knocking out Kristina Mladenovic of France and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 7-5, 10-5 in the championship match. 

For Fichman, this is the fourth doubles title of her career and her first WTA 1000 title. With the win, Fichman jumped 19 spots in the doubles rankings to no. 31 in the world.