The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Meet the NBO Players: Emma Raducanu prepares for debut in second home

July 29, 2022
Emma Raducanu follows through on a forehand.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

The preliminary player list for the 2022 National Bank Open presented by Rogers was released on Thursday, July 14 and includes 41 of the top 43 players in the WTA Rankings.

As the National Bank Open, which takes place from Aug. 6 to 14 at Sobeys Stadium, approaches, we will be highlighting some players to watch this summer as the best in women’s tennis arrive in Toronto.

Emma Raduncanu

Age: 19               Current Ranking: 10                     Career-High: 10 (July 11, 2022)
NBO Appearance: First                    Best NBO Result: N/A          
Most Recent NBO Result: N/A
2022 Record: 9-12       Career NBO Record: N/A

mma Raducanu’s introductory world tour reaches one of its final stops in Toronto this year. The Brit exploded onto the scene in dramatic fashion last September, becoming the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era at the US Open.

At the time, Raducanu had not won a single WTA Tour match and had not competed in most regular WTA Tour events, including the National Bank Open.

Since winning the US Open, Raducanu has struggled with injuries and inconsistent form, only posting an 11-15 record since her victory in New York.

Her debut at the Canadian WTA 1000 event will actually come in the city where she was born. Raducanu was born in Toronto and is a British-Canadian dual citizen.   

Ons Jabeur

Age: 27               Current Ranking: 5                     Career-High: 2 (June 27, 2022)
NBO Appearance: 2nd                    Best NBO Result: QF (2021)             
Most Recent NBO Result: QF (2021)
2022 Record: 36-10        Career NBO Record: 3-1

After her ground-breaking fortnight at the All England Club, Ons Jabeur will shift her focus to the North American hard courts, returning to the National Bank Open hoping to improve on her quarter-final appearance from last year.

Jabeur is having a career year and currently sits second in the 2022 WTA Race. She is the only woman other than Iga Świątek to win a WTA 1000 title this season, picking up the biggest win of her career in Madrid on clay.

At Wimbledon, she became the first Arab, male or female, in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam singles final.

Fun Fact: Jabeur describes herself as tennis’ “Minister of Happiness.”

Simona halep

Age: 30               Current Ranking: 16                     Career-High: 1 (Oct. 9, 2017)
NBO Appearance: 9th                    Best NBO Result: Champion (2: 2016, 2018)             
Most Recent NBO Result: 2R (2021)
2022 Record: 31-9        Career NBO Record: 21-6

From 2014 to 2020 Simona Halep was the most consistent player on the WTA tour. She finished the year ranked in the top four for seven consecutive seasons. In 2021, she suffered a calf injury mid-season that kept her out for most of the summer and even had her considering retiring.

Now with a new coach and coming off a semi-final run at Wimbledon, she appears to be back playing her best tennis. More importantly, her confidence in her body and her abilities seems to have returned.

Historically, the National Bank Open is one of the most successful WTA 1000 events for Halep. She’s won the title twice, but both came in Montreal. The closest she’s come in Toronto was the finals in 2015 where she lost to Belinda Bencic. 

Fun Fact: Simona Halep is married to Romanian businessman and estimated billionaire Toni Iuruc.

Camilla Giorgi

Age: 30               Current Ranking: 29                      Career-High: 26 (Oct. 22, 2018)
NBO Appearance: 5th                    Best NBO Result: Champion (2021)             
Most Recent NBO Result: Champion (2021)
2022 Record: 13-12        Career NBO Record: 7-3

A year ago, Camila Giorgi knocked off four seeded players to win the biggest title of her career at the National Bank Open in Montreal, having never even reached a WTA 1000 quarter-final prior to the event.

It has been an up-and-down season for the Italian, whose record is barely over .500 on the year. Her best result came last month in Eastbourne where she reached the semifinals and claimed her lone Top 10 win of the season, beating Garbine Muguruza in straight sets.

If she makes the final in Toronto, it will be the first time Giorgi has reached consecutive finals at the same even since reaching three straight finals in Katowice, Poland from 2014 to 2016.

Fun Fact: Before tennis, Giorgi’s athletic interests were focused on artistic gymnastics.

Bianca Andreescu

Age: 22        Current Ranking: 51         Career-High: 4 (Oct. 21, 2019)
NBO Appearance: 4th            Best NBO Result: Champion (2019)   
Most Recent NBO Result: R3 (2021)
2022 Record: 12-7           Career NBO Record: 7-2

Canada’s own Bianca Andreescu has been making her comeback this year after taking a break from competition to focus on her injuries and mental health.

Andreescu began playing tennis when she was seven while living in Romania with her parents. Returning to Canada at age 11, she joined Tennis Canada’s U14 National Training Centre from 2011-2012. In 2016 she competed in her first WTA qualifying at Montreal ITF Circuit, where she won one singles and one doubles title.

Her career took off in 2019 after winning the title in Indian Wells and then defeating Serena Williams in the finals of both the Rogers Cup and the US Open, making her the first player born after 2000 to win a Grand Slam tournament. With the 2000 points she won from the Grand Slam event, she made her Top 5 debut.

Andreescu recently became the ambassador for Tennis Canada’s mental health initiative ‘Mental Timeout,’ a game-changing wellness project focusing on the mental health of all those involved in tennis.

This year will be Bianca’s first time playing in Toronto at the National Bank Open since her win in 2019.

Fun facts: Her nickname is ‘BiBi,’ and, as of recently, is a published author of her children’s book, “Bibi’s Got Game: A Story about Tennis, Meditation and a Dog Named Coco.” She can be seen supporting her favorite team the Toronto Raptors, and loves yoga.

Coco gauff

Age: 18        Current Ranking: 11         Career-High: 11 (July 11, 2022)
NBO Appearance: 2nd            Best NBO Result: QF (2021)   
Most Recent NBO Result: QF (2021)
2022 Record: 25-13           Career NBO Record: 2-1

Coco Gauff is having the best season of her career. She reached her first grand slam final at Roland Garros, losing to Iga Swiatek, and has achieved a career-high ranking of 11. She also reached the doubles final in Paris and won the WTA 1000 title in Qatar with Jessica Pegula.

At 18 years old, Gauff is playing the National Bank Open for just the second time. In her debut last year, she reached the quarter-finals, losing to eventual champion Camila Giorgi.

With a deep run in Toronto, there’s a chance Gauff could crack the top 10 for the first time if she hasn’t already.

Fun Fact: Just before her run to the finals in Paris, Gauff graduated from high school and posed with her diploma in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Leylah Annie Fernandez

Age: 19        Current Ranking: 14         Career-High: 14 (July 11, 2022)
NBO Appearance: 3rd            Best NBO Result: 1R (2: 2019, 2021)   
Most Recent NBO Result: 1R (2021)
2022 Record: 16-8           Career NBO Record: 0-2

A lot has changed since Leylah Fernandez last played in Toronto.

That was 2019, when she competed in just her second event on the WTA tour. Since then, she has won a pair of titles, reached a Grand Slam final at the US Open, and cracked the Top 20 in the rankings.

When Fernandez arrives for the 2022 National Bank Open, she will be looking for her first victory at her home WTA 1000 event, but history is in her favour, as she has won at least a round at three of the four WTA 1000 events she has competed in this year.

During rain delays, Fernandez likes to do puzzles and Rubiks cubes.

Maria sakkari

Age: 26        Current Ranking: 3         Career-High: 3 (March 21, 2022)
NBO Appearance: 4th             Best NBO Result: 3R (2021)   
Most Recent NBO Result: 3R (2021)
2022 Record: 27-14             Career NBO Record: 2-3

Maria Sakkari is arguably the best player on the WTA tour who has not won a “big title”. She’s reached the semi-finals twice at grand slams, once at the year-end championships, and five times at WTA 1000’s. She’s 1-7 in those semi-final matches and has lost to the eventual champion six of the eight times she’s reached the final four.

This season she reached the semi-finals in Qatar and finals in Indian Wells at WTA 1000 events on hardcourts. At both tournaments, she was defeated by the unstoppable Iga Swiatek. Those losses came during Swiatek’s incredible 37-match win streak.

Although she has a losing record at the National Bank open, she’s due for a potential championship run.

Fun Fact: Maria Sakkari is one of the fittest players on tour and loves nearly all forms of exercise except for long-distance running.

IGA ŚWIĄTEK

Age: 21        Current Ranking: 1          Career-High: 1 (April 4, 2022)
NBO Appearance: 2nd              Best NBO Result: 3R (2019)    Most Recent NBO Result: 3R (2019)
2022 Record: 46-4             Career NBO Record: 2-1

Currently ranked no.1 in the world, Świątek, recently coming off of an impressive 37-match winning streak, is the first player representing Poland to win a major singles title.

In 2020, she became the youngest singles champion at the French Open since Rafael Nadal in 2005 and the youngest women’s singles champion at a major since Maria Sharapova in 2004.

Her last visit to the National Bank Open was in 2019 when she made it to round 16 losing to Naomi Osaka, 6-7, 4-6.

Fun facts: She began playing tennis because her older sister was playing and had the competitive drive to beat her. She enjoys rock music including AC/DC, and Pink Floyd, and celebrates with her favourite dessert, tiramisu after winning a tournament.

SERENA WILLIAMS

Age: 40        Current Ranking: 399 (Protected: 18)          Career-High: 1 (July 8, 2002)
NBO Appearance: 10th                 Best NBO Result: Champion (3: 2001, 2011, 2013)    Most Recent NBO Result: Final (2019)
2022 Record: 0-1             Career NBO Record: 34-5

After a year away from the tour, Serena Williams made her return last month at Wimbledon. Her road back will head through Toronto, her first hard-court event since the 2021 Australian Open.

The National Bank Open is one of Williams’ most successful WTA 1000 events. Her three titles, all coming in Toronto, are the third most at any event at the 1000 level, behind her eight Miami titles and four in Rome.

Williams has reached at least the semi-finals in her last six visits to Canada and only once, back in 2005, has she ever failed to reach the final four at this event.

Fun Fact: Serena Williams’ pet yorkie is named after her fellow 20+-time Grand Slam singles winner, Rafael Nadal.

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