The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Morning Cup Preview: 4 stories to watch on Day 1 of the National Bank Open

August 9, 2021

By Max Gao

After two thrilling days of qualifying action behind closed doors at the Sobeys Stadium, tennis fans in the GTA will be able to file in by the thousands for the 140th edition of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers. While all 16 seeds in the singles draw have received a bye into the second round, there will be no shortage of action on a manic, main-draw Monday in Toronto.

Pospisil, Kyrgios Headline Monday’s Night Session

Vernon, British Columbia’s Vasek Pospisil will kick off the first night session of the newly-renamed National Bank Open presented by Rogers. Pospisil, who has been ranked as high as No. 25 in the world but now sits just outside the top 60, is no stranger to competing on home soil, having reached the semi-finals of this event in 2013 (losing to none other than compatriot Milos Raonic). The Canadian veteran will be making his 10th main-draw appearance against American Tommy Paul, who didn’t drop a set en route to qualifying for the main draw. This will be their first tour-level meeting.

“I’ve had incredible memories and really kind of stepping stone moments for my career, be it my first-ever ATP main-draw match that I played [or] match win,” Pospisil told the media on Sunday. “It felt like every year I had some kind of highlight early on. And obviously, my breakthrough was the semi-final in Montréal. Beating Novak (Djokovic) and Rafa (Rafael Nadal) in doubles when they were 1 and 2 in the world with Milos, back when we were 19 years old or super young. So we’ve had tons of amazing experiences, especially at a younger age before I stabilized as a consistent tour player.”

Fan favorite Nick Kyrgios will end the evening on Stadium Court against big-serving American Reilly Opelka. Kyrgios, who has played just seven tournaments in the last two seasons due to a combination of injuries and the coronavirus pandemic, will be looking to kickstart his North American hardcourt swing with a solid showing in Toronto. Kyrgios and Opelka will meet for the first time, and the winner will get No. 14 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.

Canadians Auger-Aliassime, Galarneau Team Up for Doubles

Félix Auger-Aliassime and Alexis Galarneau will reunite to play doubles in the first match of the day on Court 1. The two childhood best friends, who grew up playing together (and against each other) in Québec, have had similar but divergent paths in recent years: Auger-Aliassime just broke into the world’s top 15, while Galarneau just finished an impressive college career at North Carolina State. The young, all-Canadian pairing — who received a wild card — will meet the all-Russian duo of Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev. (This will be Galarneau’s main-draw debut on the ATP Tour.)

Canadian Qualifier Schnur Draws Harris, Winner to Face Nadal

The other Canadian in action on Monday is Pickering native Brayden Schnur, who fought his way through qualifying to secure a spot in the 48-player draw. The 26-year-old has drawn South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, who broke into the top 50 earlier this year and stunned 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal last week in Washington. They will meet for the first time in the fourth match on the Rogers 5G Grandstand Court, and the winner will face Nadal.

Cilic, Fognini Begin Campaigns

2014 U.S. Open champion and former World No. 3 Marin Cilic — who has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence this year — will kick off proceedings on Stadium Court at 11 a.m. against Spanish left-hander Albert Ramos-Viñolas. They will be followed by crafty Italian veteran Fabio Fognini and big-serving German Jan-Lennard Struff, followed by Great Britain’s Daniel Evans and Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.