Welcome to Destination OBN, our weekly update on all the action on the WTA Tour ahead of the National Bank Open in Montréal from August 4 to 13.
DAYS UNTIL THE NATIONAL BANK OPEN: 51
Green light for the grass swing
The tennis season plays out on three surfaces.
The most common and most popular with the thousands of players on the tours are the indoor and outdoor hard courts, while the two others get mixed reviews owing to their speed—or lack thereof—and imperfections.
“First week when I come on clay, I hate everything around me. I just hate to be on the court,” Daniil Medvedev said.
Read also: Milos Raonic Returns in Style
Grass is also an acquired taste for many, including Ivan Lendl who famously affirmed: “Grass is for the cows.”
Things would be a lot simpler with just one type of court.
After a few weeks on the red dirt, we now move on to the micro-season on grass. It happens in a flash, since it’s only 35 days (5 weeks) compared to 70 days (10 weeks) on clay.
Why are there only three weeks, from June 12 to July 3, to prepare on the ultra-quick surface? For the simple reason that there aren’t very many grass courts, which means fewer venues to host tournaments. If it weren’t for Wimbledon’s prestige and the sport’s deep love of tradition, there may not be any major grass-court events at all.
Grass is unmanageable and inequitable. It takes only a few days of competition for the courts to wear down to dirt. With nary a blade of green around the baseline, the surface becomes a hotbed for bad bounces that draw the ire of players and compound their risk of slips and injuries.
It’s more of an archaism than a necessity, but tennis makes the best of it and doesn’t break with convention.
The grass swing is a quintessential stop with lots of money and ranking points at stake.
These days, the players are working to master the grass in record time en route to the year’s third Slam.
In these next three weeks before Wimbledon, the WTA will dispatch delegations to seven competitions.
In week one, the women will fight it out at the WTA 250 Libema Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, or the WTA 250 Rothesay Open in Nottingham, England, before they move on to the WTA 125 Veneto Open in Gaiba, Italy, or the WTA 500 Bett1Open in Berlin. Week three is the chance for one final tune-up either at the WTA 250 Bad Homburg Open or the WTA 500 Rothesay International in Eastbourne.
The final stop is the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for The Championships, Wimbledon, from July 3 to 16.
Stories to watch
Who should you be keeping an eye on at Wimbledon?
It all depends on how the next three weeks unfold.
For reference, here’s a look at how the top players have done on grass in recent seasons.
Top 10 – results on grass
- Iga Swiatek 9–6 (2019–2022)
- Aryna Sabalenka 27–16 (2017–2022)
- Elena Rybakina 22–7 (2019–2022)
- Caroline Garcia 42–24 (2011–2022)
- Jessica Pegula 17–16 (2012–2022)
- Ons Jabeur 60–17 (2012–2022)
- Coco Gauff 15–5 (2019–2022)
- Maria Sakkari 23–16 (2016–2022)
- Petra Kvitova 68–23 (2008–2022)
- Beatriz Haddad Maia 25–12 (2015–2022)
One important detail: Ons Jabeur is 10–2 and 11–1 in 2021 and 2022, and that definitely makes her a favourite along with Aryna Sabalenka, Caroline Garcia and reigning champion Elena Rybakina.
Petra Kvitova, who has two Venus Rosewater Dish trophies (2010 and 2014), is also a contender.
And what of her fellow countrywomen? Recent RG finalist Karolina Muchova springs to mind.
After being slowed by injuries over the past few seasons, Muchova’s made an impressive comeback since last September, when she was ranked No .225. Today, nine months later, she’s World No. 16.
Read also: Iga's Bakery
In 2017–2022, she’s 17–11 on grass.
And the World No. 1? It would be pretty surprising to see her clinch the RG–Wimbledon double but never, ever, underestimate her.
Does tennis have a new power couple?
It certainly seems so.
On June 7, No. 34 Paula Badosa and No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas came close to breaking the (tennis) internet when they popped up in each other’s Spotify profiles.
A few days later, Paula was in the stands for one of Stefanos’ matches at Roland-Garros.
Since then, they’ve gone all-out with their tsitsidosa account. If an image is worth a thousand words, how much is an Insta grid worth?
Read also: Coming Up Short at Roland-Garros
One fan joked that the pair has posted “more content of their recent relationship in two days than Roland-Garros has released highlights from matches the entire tournament.”
Of course, we wish them all the best, though you won’t see them together on their Canadian stopover this summer since the National Bank Open is the only leading tournament that’s held in two cities.
The WTA's best return to Montreal this summer for the National Bank Open August 4 to 13 at IGA Stadium. Tickets are on sale. Get your tickets today!