Photo: Jared Wickerham/Tennis Canada
It’s been a long while. In fact, August 7 was the last time I published an article on this website, a day before our 2020 tournament was due to begin.
A lot has happened since.
Yes, we’re still living in uncertain times due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Who would have thought this time last year that most of us would still be working from home, wearing facemasks and unable to see many of our loved ones?
Fortunately, though, for us avid fans, tennis came back – and I think we can all agree the sport has been a much-needed getaway at times.
For everyone involved, it was heart-breaking to have to postpone our event last year. However, already in 2021, we’ve had some incredible news for the tournament that’s been a long time in the making. On February 2, we were finally able to announce that National Bank is the new title partner of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers and we are absolutely thrilled.
There are two questions I’ve been consistently asked over the last few months: Will the National Bank Open take place in 2021? and Will fans be able to attend?
The answer to the first is a little more straightforward than the second.
We remain fully focussed on hosting the tournament in Toronto from August 7-15. We will have put robust safety measures in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone. Rest assured, we’re in constant dialogue with all levels of government and continue to work towards their health guidelines. Any decisions regarding our event will also be made in close collaboration with the ATP Tour, and in the best interest of players, fans, staff, volunteers and partners – the health and safety of whom remains our top priority.
Regarding fan attendance this year, we are currently planning for various scenarios, including a broadcast only event and reduced capacity event. And, while we are planning for all these scenarios, a decision will only be made much closer to the tournaments. If you are one of our many loyal ticketholders, know that we will reach out to you with any significant updates that impact your potential attendance as and when we have them.
In the meantime, we’ve got to be patient.
That being said, our team is more motivated than ever to put on an exceptional sporting spectacle. We are confident that by working with our valued partners, we will find innovative solutions to make the 2021 tournament a great celebration of tennis. And if we can’t entertain our fans on site, we will bring the entertainment to them through other means.
For now, though, hasn’t it been great these last two weeks to sit back and enjoy watching the first ATP Masters 1000 of the year at the Miami Open? Before that, there was the small matter of the Australian Open in February, where Novak Djokovic claimed the crown over Daniil Medvedev in the final. It was also awesome to see Roger make his comeback to tennis in Doha having not played a match since the 2020 Aussie Open semis. Hopefully, we can see a lot more of him over the next few months.
It’s also been an exciting start to the year for our Canadians with Denis, Milos, Vasek and Félix all having played solid tennis since the turn of the year.
On the women’s side – just how nice has it been to see Bianca Andreescu back on court? The 2019 National Bank Open champion had a tough return to competition, which was to be expected after such a long layoff. But, my word, what a run by her to reach the final of a WTA 1000 so soon after her comeback! Saturday’s match against World No. 1 Ash Barty is going to be spectacular, I’m sure.
And what an effort from Leylah Fernandez, who won her first WTA title in Monterrey at just 18 years old. WOW!
Maybe this summer we will see Bianca defend her title in Montreal and one of Milos, Vasek, Félix or Denis take the trophy home in Toronto!
Before I sign off, I want to wish Team Canada all the very best in their Billie Jean King Cup tie against Serbia in a couple of weeks. I hope our Billie Jean King Cup team captain Heidi and the players can pick up that ‘W’ on what will be a tough road trip to Europe.
Thanks to all of you for supporting tennis and our National Bank Open! Stay safe!