Play is underway at Sobeys Stadium as the first round of qualifying for the 2022 National Bank Open takes place on Saturday in Toronto.
Three years after reaching the semifinals of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, Marie Bouzkova, the No. 1 seed in this year’s qualifying draw, emphatically began her campaign for another deep run in Toronto, cruising past Valentini Grammatikopoulou, 6-2, 6-0, in the first match on Centre Court at Sobeys Stadium.
The Czech No. 4, who equalled her career-high ranking of No. 46 in the world after winning her first WTA title in Prague, will face No. 15 seed Tatjana Maria tomorrow for a place in the coveted main draw. Maria, who is still fresh off of an inspired run to the semifinals of Wimbledon earlier this summer, won the first set, 6-1, against Heather Watson before the Brit was forced to retire.
After winning the qualifying wildcard tournament to secure her place in the draw, Marina Stakusic advanced to the final round of qualifying after her opponent, China’s Wang Xinyu, was forced to retire after the first set. The 17-year-old Mississauga native now has an opportunity to join Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Annie Fernandez and Rebecca Marino as the only Canadians in the main draw, but she will have her work cut out for her against No. 8 seed Tereza Martincova, who defeated American Emina Bektas, 6-3, 7-5.
In her first appearance at this event, No. 2 seed Nuria Parrizas Diaz overcame an early deficit to knock out 17-year-old Canadian wild card Kayla Cross, 7-6(2), 6-0. The London, Ont. native, who made the junior girls’ doubles finals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year, had an opportunity to serve out a marathon opening set at 6-5, but the 31-year-old Spaniard, who reached a career high of No. 45 in the world earlier this year, was able to raise her level and never really looked back. For a place in the main draw, Parrizas Diaz will now face her countrywoman Cristina Bucsa, who upset No. 14 seed Rebecca Peterson, 6-3, 6-3, on Court 4.
Stakusic will be the lone Canadian competing in the second round of qualifying after 15-year-old Victoria Mboko lost to 10th seed Claire Liu in a tight three-setter. Mboko was nearly unplayed in the opening set as she seemed to blast winners at will. But Liu played the big points better in the second set and managed to hang on for the win despite failing to serve out the match at 5-3, eventually breaking the Canadian for the win 6-4 in the third set.
In the first upset of the day, Asia Muhammad knocked out No. 6 seed and former quarterfinalist Andrea Petkovic, 6-3, 6-2. Despite being broken three times, the American broke seven times of her own and remained solid in the 70-minute encounter while Petkovic came undone by her own unforced errors. Muhammad will face No. 12 seed Donna Vekic, against whom she has yet to lose in two previous meetings. Vekic, who has been attempting to rebuild her ranking since a knee injury left her outside the top 100, defeated Israel’s Lina Glushko, 6-4, 6-2.
No. 4 seed Madison Brengle kicked off her North American hardcourt swing with a 6-2, 6-4 win over French wildcard Elsa Jacquemot, snapping a five-match losing streak in the process. The crafty American will face compatriot Christina McHale—who defeated Grace Min, 6-3, 6-4–for a place in her third main draw north of the border.
No. 7 seed Ajla Tomljanovic overcame a stern challenge from countrywoman Kimberly Birrell, 7-5, 7-6(5), to set up a meeting with No. 11 seed Harriet Dart, who defeated Dutchwoman Arianne Hartono, 6-3, 6-3. Other winners on the opening day of action include No. 16 seed Lauren Davis, who defeated Germany’s Laura Siegemund, 6-3, 6-3; Australia’s Storm Sanders, who defeated American Catherine Harrison, 6-0, 7-5; and Australia’s Ellen Perez, who defeated compatriot Priscilla Hon, 6-4, 7-6(2).
The first round of qualifying takes place on Saturday, followed by the second and final round on Sunday. Eight player will reach the main draw of the 2022 National Bank Open.