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Tournament News

Alcaraz, Rune on Toronto Collision Course: Men's Draw Analysis

by Mike McIntyre

August 4, 2023

The National Bank Open Presented by Rogers held its draw late Friday afternoon in Toronto high above the city at the top of the Park Hyatt Hotel.

High hopes will be held by all 56 players in the main draw including, eighth-seeded Jannik Sinner and Canadian wildcard Alexis Galarneau who were in attendance to assist with the proceedings. Both appeared in good spirits, though perhaps slightly nervous about where their names would land in the ATP Masters 1000 main draw beginning Monday, Aug. 7.

After the top two seeds in the draw, Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev, were slotted in their respective positions, the other seeded men to round out the top eight were then drawn (all received an opening round bye), followed by the remainder of the players. The results certainly did not disappoint and there were several audible gasps from the media, tournament officials and other corporate sponsors in attendance, as well as likely from the many fans who streamed the event online.

The top half of the draw alone would make a stellar ATP tournament. Alcaraz, who is making his debut in Toronto this year, has a first-round bye but then will face the winner between rising American sensation Ben Shelton and Bernabe Zapata Miralles. Fifth-seeded Holger Rune is also in the top quarter as is 15th seed and perennial hard-court contender Hubert Hurkacz.

Read also: Meet the ATP Top 10 ahead of the 2023 National Bank Open

The second quarter features fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has always performed well here in Toronto. He exploded onto the scene back in 2018 where he made his way to the finals, defeating Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, and Kevin Anderson along the way before falling to Rafael Nadal in the Championship match.

Tsitsipas won’t have an easy start this year as he will face the winner between the enticing opening round encounter of Gael Monfils vs Christopher Eubanks. Eubanks has been one of the hottest commodities in tennis this summer while Monfils is just hitting his stride as he continues his return to form after a lengthy injury.

This section of the draw features several high-octane matchups including Grigor Dimitrov versus 14th seed Borna Coric, Lorenzo Sonego against veteran and crowd favourite Andy Murray, as well as Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime who will face a qualifier in his opening match on home soil to kick-off the evening session on Tuesday, Aug. 8. Seventh-seeded Sinner will face the winner between Gregoire Barrere and then possibly fellow Italian Matteo Berrettini which would undoubtedly draw a crowd.

Read also: Meet the Dark Horses in the Men's Draw

The bottom half of the draw also contains no shortage of stellar possibilities. Most notable for Canadian tennis fans is the opening-round match between ninth seed Frances Tiafoe and Milos Raonic, who returns to play his home tournament for the first time since 2018.

Raonic was getting in his reps this week in practice on-site with the likes of Sinner, Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev, and looked quite sharp against those Top Ten opponents.

Casper Ruud, the third seed, and Rublev, the sixth seed, appear on a collision course for a quarter-final match in this section that would see them play for an eighth time on the ATP Tour (5-2 so far in favour of Rublev). The final quadrant of the draw, if it holds true, will lead to Daniil Medvedev coming up against recent champion in Atlanta Taylor Fritz.

Medvedev opens against the winner between Canada’s Davis Cup stalwart Vasek Pospisil and a qualifier. Pospisil is scheduled to play his opening match in the evening session Monday, Aug. 7. Another mouth-watering opening round match in this section of the draw pits the ever-nimble Alex De Minaur of Australia against 11th seed Cam Norrie of the UK.

Read also: Meet the Canadian Men in the Toronto Draw

Tournament Director Karl Hale had the following assessment of the draw in his comments to the crowd afterward.

“There’s so many just amazing matches. You look at if the draw plays through, Ben Shelton who’s the hottest player on tour a little while ago, plays Alcaraz second round and Vasek, if he wins, plays Medvedev second round. So just a blockbuster draw. Great, great matches.”

While the speculation began as soon as the draw ceremony concluded, as we’ve seen here in Canada in years past anything can, and will, happen. Who would have foreseen Pablo Carreno Busta emerging as the champ in Montreal last summer for example? Will there be an unexpected winner standing alone next Sunday at Sobeys Stadium or will one of the known quantities prevail? Perhaps No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz will hoist his first-ever trophy on Canadian soil in his first appearance in Toronto.

Regardless of the outcome, tennis fans who live in or who have descended upon the city are in for a real treat this week. It really is the premier event for the sport in Canada and we’re so very fortunate to be able to witness the action unfold before us over the next nine days.

The ATP's best return to Toronto this summer for the National Bank Open August 5 to 13 at Sobeys Stadium. Tickets are on sale. Get your tickets today!