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: 13
On Court Action
There’s just over a week to go until the arrival of Canada’s premier tennis tournament at the National Bank Open! Let’s take a look at where things stand at the moment on the ATP Tour before the best men’s players in the world descend upon Toronto.
Grass-court action came to its conclusion at the Newport Hall of Fame Championships with Adrian Mannarino hoisting the trophy following a 6-2, 6-4 win over 18 -ear-old American Alex Michelsen. The 35-year-old Frenchman captured the third title of his career and has always been a tricky one to face on the surface.
There were also two clay-court tournaments last week which always seems a bit out of place sandwiched tightly between the grass court season and summer hard court swing. In Bastad, Andrey Rublev earned the 14th title of his career in a heavyweight encounter with Casper Ruud. In Gstaad meanwhile, Pedro Cachin emerged as the winner for the first title of the Argentinian’s career.
This week we begin the transition to the North American hardcourts with the Atlanta Open, followed by the Mubadal Citi Open in Washington, DC. Switching over to the hard courts is always an exciting time for Canadian tennis fans as the anticipation for the National Bank Open really kicks into high gear.
One player who undoubtedly is getting excited to play in Toronto is Canada’s Alexis Galarneau, who just had a week to remember! The 24-year-old won the first Challenger title of his career in his native Quebec in Granby. He’s now up 58 spots in the rankings to career high of No. 162 on the ATP Tour and was just recently announced to be the deserving recipient of a main draw wildcard for the National Bank Open. He will also benefit from direct entry into the qualifying draw for the US Open later this summer in New York.
Stories to Watch
There will be six Canadians entered in the field for the main draw at the NBO August 5-13th in Toronto. Led by World No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime, this is perhaps the strongest men’s contingent we’ve yet seen for the tournament and a group that Canadian tennis fans deservedly should be excited to support this summer. Auger-Aliassime made the quarter-finals last summer in his hometown of Montreal and will be looking to make the final eight or better in Toronto for the first time.
Denis Shapovalov is one of the hometown favourites whenever he plays in TO. Shapo just made the round of sixteen at Wimbledon and is on the cusp yet again of the Top 20 players in the world. It’s hard to believe it was already seven years ago that he made his NBO debut when he defeated Nick Kyrgios in an electric three-set match at Sobeys Stadium.
Another local hero and a player we haven’t seen play here in quite some time is none other than Milos Raonic, who just returned to the circuit after a nearly two-year absence.
Raonic memorably made the NBO final in 2013 in Montreal while his best showing in Toronto was the quarter-finals which he reached three times in 2012, 2014, and 2016. This will be Raonic’s first time playing in Toronto since 2018 due to the obstacles of both the pandemic and the injuries that have kept him away from the court.
The other Canadians in the main draw include veteran Vasek Pospisil, who has always been such an important piece of Canada’s international entries at the Davis Cup along with up-and-coming talents like 21-year-old Gabriel Diallo and the previously mentioned Alexis Galarneau.
Aside from the Canadians, one of the big stories to watch this year in Toronto will be the debut in the city for World No. 1 and recent Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz. Only 20 years old and already a two-time Slam champion, Alcaraz will be sure to electrify the crowd in his opening match in the evening session on Wednesday, Aug. 9.
While Alcaraz will definitely have a target on his back given his recent form, one player he won’t have to contend with is Novak Djokovic who unfortunately withdrew citing fatigue from his run to the finals at Wimbledon.
Off Court Buzz
Denis Shapovalov created some serious off-court buzz this week when the 24-year-old proposed to his long-time partner Mirjam Bjorklund. Despite a lingering knee issue that hampered him recently at Wimbledon, Shapovalov seemed quite comfortable bending down to pop the big question!
Bjorklund has been having a career-best season on the women’s tour as her ranking has jumped up to No. 136 on the WTA, not too far off her all-time high of No. 122. Canadian tennis fans have perhaps caught her playing on numerous occasions at the Tevlin Challenger held every October here in Toronto.
Add the Shapovalov/Bjorklund pairing to other successful tennis off-court duos like Gael Monfils and Elina Svitolina and the more recent union between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Paula Badosa. It stands to reason that two successful professional tennis players can only serve to push each other further in the sport and we certainly hope to see that for Denis and Mirjam!
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!