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Flashback to 2018: The Last “Normal” ATP National Bank Open in Toronto

With two years between each visit to Toronto, there is not generally much difference between editions of the National Bank Open for the men of the ATP Tour.

But it has been five years since the tournament looked similar to how it will in Toronto in 2023.

That is of course due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cancelled the 2020 edition and then 2021 was played under heavy restrictions, which included a bubble to insulate players from potential outside contagion and limitations on the number of fans in attendance to watch the world’s best male tennis players compete.

But in 2023, it will be back to normal at Sobeys Stadium for the first time since 2018, with no restrictions on the players or the number of fans in the seats.

In anticipation of a true return to normalcy, let’s take a look back at what went down in Toronto in 2018.

The Field

Five years is not a long time in the grand scheme of things, but it can be an eternity in sport.

While there will certainly be familiar faces competing on the hard courts at the northern edge of Canada’s largest city, the ones with numbers next to their names will look quite different.

Only one player ranked in the Top 10 in 2018 is still there today:


August 2018

July 2023


Rafael Nadal

Carlos Alcaraz


Roger Federer*

Novak Djokovic


Alexander Zverev

Daniil Medvedev


Juan Martin del Potro*

Casper Ruud


Grigor Dimitrov

Stefanos Tsitsipas


Kevin Andersonx

Holger Rune


Marin Cilic

Andrey Rublev


Dominic Thiem

Jannik Sinner


John Isner

Taylor Fritz


Novak Djokovic

Frances Tiafoe

Should the entire Top 16 (the number of players who will be seeded) in the current rankings play in Toronto (which is not a guarantee), only one will have been seeded in both 2018 and 2023, that being Novak Djokovic.

Check out who is on the player list for the 2023 National Bank Open

In fact, two members of the 2018 Top 10, Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro, have since retired. Even more crazy is that Kevin Anderson retired and unretired.

Rafael Nadal was the top seed in 2018, having been ranked inside the Top 10 since April 2005, a streak he would stretch to 912 weeks before finally falling out earlier in 2023.

Read also: Examining Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray’s Wimbledon Dominance

The average age of the Top 10 in 2018 was 29 years old, with eight of 10 being over the age of 25. This year, it has reversed with eight of the Top 10 aged 25 or younger and an average age of just under 25.

2018 Results

Along with being the top seed, Nadal won the title in 2018, his fourth of five titles at the National Bank Open.

While the raging bull from Mallorca will not be back looking to tie Ivan Lendl’s record six titles in Canada, there is one player who stood out in 2018 who returns to Toronto with high expectations.

That tournament was the coming out party of Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was just 19 at the time and ranked 27th in the world.

He knocked off four Top 10 players in a row to reach the final in one of the most surprising runs in the history of the National Bank Open, which catapulted him into the ATP Top 20 for the first time.

Another notable breakthrough that year was future Top 10 player and major semifinalist Karen Khachanov reaching his first Masters 1000 semifinal. He went on to win the Paris Indoors later that season.

There were a few instalments of big-time rivalries in Toronto that summer, including Nadal defeating fellow major champions Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic in the third round and quarter-finals respectively.

Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev clashed for the fourth time, a rivalry that has now reached 15 meetings. It was Medvedev’s first time reaching the round of 16 at a Masters 1000 event. He would win the title the next time the ATP Tour came to Toronto in the COVID-edition of 2021.

Current Top 10ers Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Frances Tiafoe all made their debuts in Toronto in 2018. As well, future Canadian star Félix Auger-Aliassime made his main draw debut on home soil that year.

Read also: Diverse Field Remains at Wimbledon

While the player field, and inevitably the results, will be quite different from 2018, one thing that will be the same is the crowd.

The last time the men played in Toronto, during the COVID-restricted 2021 event, only 5000 fans were allowed in the 12,500-seat Centre Court, meaning the stadium was less than half full.

On top of that, the grounds were closed to the public, meaning all matches played outside of Centre Court had just the pigeons watching from lampposts.

But for the first time since 2018, every man who steps on court in Toronto can have fans there to cheer them on, whether they are out on a side court or in the spotlight on Centre Court. 

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!