With the fourth wave looming, besides the vaccine, there is nothing safer than the National Bank Open this week.
Despite the heat and humidity, everyone is wearing a mask at IGA Stadium
While the matches are broadcast on TV, let’s go back stage to get an idea of the tournament’s inner workings.
Once spectators are sitting comfortably in their seats, they’re allowed to take off their mask, as long as they keep a physical distance.
Yes, there are crowds, though the sweltering heat has slowed ticket sales.
Hat’s off to the fans. The crowds are smaller but as enthusiastic as ever. Just ask Bianca Andreescu, who was transported by her supporters in her tough opening match.
Notably absent are the linespersons, who have been replaced by Hawk-Eye.
PRICIER THAN THE PRIZE MONEY
The food concessions are few and far between but open, and that’s good news given the weather.
Besides official broadcasters TVA Sports and Sportsnet, there are no media here. Everyone is at home doing interviews via videoconference.
The place is a fortress.
There is testing. There is a tightly guarded walkway for players to avoid potential contacts between the practice courts and the locker room. Total cost: $100 000.
A major hotel was booked to isolate the players and their teams. The medical staff, WTA officials and drivers are all in the bubble. About 400 people.
So how much is all that?
According to tournament director Eugène Lapierre, $2 to $2.5M in COVID-19 expenses.
In case you’re keeping track, the total prizemoney is $1,835,490.
ARE THE WOMEN MORE RESPONSIBLE?
When it comes to the health measures, it seems they are. Two players in Toronto were reprimanded for leaving the bubble. In Montréal? None.
MARINO BY THE NEW NUMBERS
After ousting No.26 Madison Keys and No.31 Paula Badosa, Rebecca Marino is sure to pocket $21,000 and climb 45 spots in the WTA rankings from No.220 to No.175.
She’s competing in her first National Bank Open in a decade.
SYLVAIN BRUNEAU LEDS HIS SUPPORT
Coaching Rebecca Marino this week is none other than Sylvain Bruneau.
Now, no one is saying Rebecca will become the next Bianca, but the coach will be relying on the same methods.
“I’ve known Rebecca since she was 19. We worked together a lot at Billie Jean King Cup. I offered, and she was happy to collaborate for this little bit,” explained Bruneau, who oversees elite women’s tennis at Tennis Canada.
And it shows.
What type of weapons can Marino count on when she takes on Aryna Sabalenka in the round of 16?
“She hits the ball long and heavy, and that keeps her opponents on their toes. And she has a huge first serve. She puts a lot of pressure with her second-serve returns,” he said.
ENDS WITH AN A
Aiming for a career in pro tennis? Having a last name that ends with the letter an A may give an edge.
In the singles main draw, there are 27 players (out of 56) whose last name ends in A. In doubles? 18 out of 32.
A killer forehand helps, too.