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Road to the NBO...

Road to the NBO Montreal: Wimbledon gets rolling

by Paul Rivard

July 4, 2023

Welcome to Destination NBO, our weekly recap of all the action on the WTA Tour ahead of the National Bank Open in Montréal from August 7 to 13.

DAYS UNTIL THE NATIONAL BANK OPEN: 30

On-court action

Keys to success

Madison Keys
Photo : Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty

Before the rise of Coco Gauff, Madison Keys was predicted to be the next American Slam winner and potential successor to Serena Williams.

Could 2023 finally be her season?

Her big win in Eastbourne certainly sends a clear message.

Read also: Strong Canadian Presence at Wimbledon

Madison flew through her five-match draw at the Rothesay International without dropping a single set. In the final, she overpowered Daria Kasatkina (6-2, 7-6(13)) with a devastating crosscourt forehand winner that brought their torturous tiebreak and equally torturous 31-shot rally to a close.

The title—her first on grass in seven years and second at Eastbourne (2016)—boosts her record to 17–8 and moves her up to No.18 as she heads to the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Madison Keys
Photo : Tennis365

Once ranked as high as No.7 (2016), the Illinois native tumbled to No.87, her lowest ranking in nine years, in January 2022.

Read also: Road to the NBO Toronto - Djokovic Leads Wimbledon Field

In her career, the 28-year-old has taken home seven titles. At the Slams, she got as far as the semis at the 2017 US Open, where she lost to fellow American Sloane Stephens, but has yet to get hold of a crown.

Stories to watch

The kids are alright

Mirra Andreeva
Photo : Wimbledon

Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva dropped only one of the seven sets she played in the qualifying rounds of Wimbledon to muscle into the main draw.

It’s a brilliant feat, and there’s no telling how far the WTA’s newest sensation will go. The current No.102 isn’t fazed by her lack of experience or her older opponents’ records.

Read and listen: Match Point Canada's Wimbledon Preview

Should she win her first match against No.73 Xiyu Wang, Mirra could potentially run into No.10 Barbora Krejcikova, No.22 Anastasia Potapova and then No.8 Maria Sakkari.

Getting through even one or two rounds, like Coco Gauff did when she was only 15 years old, would be huge for Andreeva.

Venus Coco
Photos : Getty

Back in 2019, the American wunderkind blasted her way through the British qualifiers without losing a set. She went on to upset Venus Williams and barged into the quarters where she collided with eventual champion Simona Halep.

It’s a bit early to predict how Andreeva’s career will go, but don’t bet against this fearless young woman. If you count all her matches this season, she’s 40–6!

Mirra Andreeva
Photo : Wimbledon

Statistically, that’s better than No.1 Iga Swiatek (35–5) and No.2 Aryna Sabalenka (36–7).

Read also: Fernandez Fights to First Wimbledon Win

Contrary to what you might have expected, there are only two other teenagers in the women’s draw: 18-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova of Czechia, who’s already spent the past two years making a name for herself, and 18-year-old Céline Naef of Switzerland. Just a few weeks ago, she posted her first WTA win against none other than Venus Williams.

Off court buzz

Caroline Wozniacki’s career comeback

Caroline Wozniacki Vogue
Photo : Norman Jean Roy/Vogue

The photo is superb. An intricately detailed yet simple image to announce that Caroline Wozniacki isn’t done competing.

And she’ll prove it right here in Montréal.

Read also: Green surface, green paper

Kim Clijsters
Photo : Reuters

Like Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams before her, the Grand Slam winner (AO 2018) took time off to start a family and now feels ready to get back in the WTA race to share her professional happiness and success with her children.

Touching. Inspiring.

Serena Olympia
Photo : Ricky Wilson/Stuff

In late June, the former World No.1 caught Valérie Tétreault off guard with an unexpected phone call. After Caroline shared the news, the NBO tournament director promptly offered her a wild card into the main draw.

In case you’d forgotten, Montréal happens to be where she earned her first big title back in 2010.

Wozniacki 2010
Photo : Getty

When media outlets asked Valérie about the announcement, she recalled that she’d gone head-to-head against Wozniacki at a junior tournament and couldn’t help smiling when she casually mentioned that she’d overpowered her Danish rival.

Read also: Remembering Caroline Wozniacki’s 2010 Montreal Title Run

“The good news is that she’s been training for several months already,” Valérie Tétreault said to the Canadian Press. “She told me she’s been training with players on the WTA Tour, including Petra Kvitova. Beyond that, nothing can replicate the intensity of a real match. It’s only normal to manage our expectations, but she’ll be arriving here with renewed energy.”

There are plenty of supermoms who’ve left tennis only to come back with their kids in tow. Here are 14 of them, including Tatjana Maria.

Tatjana Maria
Photo : Copa Colsanitas

he 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!