Welcome to the Road to the National Bank Open presented by 407 ETR. Every week, we will keep you updated on all the action on the ATP Tour as we build towards the National Bank Open in Toronto, which takes place from Aug. 5 to 13.
DAYS UNTIL THE NATIONAL BANK OPEN: 27
On Court Action
The first week of Wimbledon produced few upsets in the men’s draw as six of the top eight seeds advanced to the Quarter-final. Joining those expected players are the 92nd-ranked Roman Safiullin, who brought a 6-10 win/loss record on the ATP Tour this year into The Championships, along with Chris Eubanks who, prior to winning the recent ATP 250 grass court event in Mallorca, was ranked outside the top 70 in the world.
Eubanks appeared earlier this year on Match Point Canada and he shared the following on what has allowed him to achieve career-best results this season:
“I think now, it’s embracing not focusing as much on certain benchmarks or goals, and just enjoying the process, enjoying getting up and training and working on the areas of my game I need to get better.”
Safiullin and Eubanks joined established players like Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, and Andrey Rublev along with bright young stars like Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, and Holger Rune to provide a nice mix of talent for the final week at Wimbledon.
While no Canadian men made it to the final stages of the event, Denis Shapovalov did advance to the round of sixteen and produced some of his best tennis of the 2023 season in the process. The draw opened up nicely with the early exit of fourth-seeded Casper Ruud in Shapo’s section of the draw and he appeared poised to take advantage until running into Safiullin.
Canadian tennis reporter Mark Masters from TSN shared that after the loss to Safiullin, Shapovalov may take some time away from the court as he has been dealing with a knee injury that needs to properly heal up.
Felix Auger Aliassime went out in the opening round of Wimbledon to American Michael Mmoh. Auger Aliassime has also been dealing with injury issues over the past couple of months and we hope that both he and Shapovalov can of course be healthy enough to compete at their best in Toronto later this summer at the National Bank Open.
One very positive moment for Canadian tennis at Wimbledon was the return of Milos Raonic, who played his first Grand Slam event since the 2021 Australian Open and grabbed a victory in his opening-round match. An achilles injury along with some issues with his foot have kept the big-serving Canuck off the tour but he wanted to have one last opportunity to play his favourite events at Wimbledon and of course in his hometown of Toronto later this summer.
Raonic helped put Canadian tennis on the map with memorable moments including his eight ATP titles, four Masters 1000 finals including the NBO final in 2013, and of course his run to the final at Wimbledon in 2016. If he is indeed playing in his last National Bank Open next month, Canadian tennis fans will be sure to give him a proper send-off for all he has done in his impressive career.
Stories to Watch
Who will be the No. 1 ranked man in tennis by the end of Wimbledon?
As if there haven’t already been enough exchanges this year between current top dog Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic, the man who has held the ranking for the longest amount of time in the history of the ATP, there could be another switch depending on who goes deeper in the draw this year at the All-England Club.
As ATP stats guru Greg Sharko pointed out recently, there have already been more exchanges between two players for the top ranking in 2023 than any first-half season on the ATP since 1983. What’s even more compelling is the high likelihood that the two might have to face one another in the final with the No. 1 ranking on the line.
With the way things are going between the two stars, there’s a good chance that this battle for No. 1 could still be very much up for grabs when they arrive in Toronto to play the National Bank Open in August. This will obviously be a big storyline to follow as the marquee Canadian event approaches!
Off Court Buzz
This past week, two-time Grand Slam finalist and former Top Five player Kevin Anderson, announced he was unretiring after a 16-month absence and returning to professional tennis. Anderson is one of the gentle giants in tennis and used his 6’6 frame to his advantage over the course of the first part of his career on the ATP Tour.
He’s decided to return to the game at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport next week, where he was crowned champion in 2021.
“When I retired, it was tough. I was dealing with a lot of physical pain. Just a lot of parts of the body were really making it difficult to compete the way I wanted to, but also emotionally and mentally it was very challenging and I felt like I needed to stop playing,” Anderson said. “When I retired, I didn’t know if I was going to play again or not. Most of last year I wasn’t planning to. But a couple months ago I started hitting again and just really enjoyed being out there.”
Anderson’s best showing at the Masters 1000 event in Canada was back in 2018, his most recent appearance, where he made the semifinals before falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas in a third-set tiebreak.
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!