Tuesday was day two of action at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers and it’s also a very special day for Canada’s own Felix Auger-Aliassime, who celebrates his 23rd birthday at his home country event.
Lots of excitement continues around the grounds today included the sometimes unexpected. In the late stages of the opening set between Sebastian Korda and Tomas Martin Etcheverry, part of the North end bleachers of the Grandstand suffered a structural movement that resulted in play briefly being stopped.
Chair Umpire Fergus Murphy, who already dealt with an interesting moment last night in Milos Raonic’s huge Centre Court victory, was back in the chair again and calmly suggested fans might want to temporarily relocate themselves. Here he is enjoying a laugh with Korda while the hard-working tournament construction crew fixed the scene.
Ever wonder how many racquets get restrung for ATP players in a day here at the NBO? I spoke with stringer David Reynolds from Sporting Life who told me that on average it’s around 140 per day that come through their station.
The normal amount of tension the pros use on their sticks is 22-24kg, while France’s Adrian Mannarino comes in unusually low at 10kg for his. Reynolds told me that a racquet strung so low would be like using a fish net on the ball and that Mannarino’s game requires this to support the incredible touch that his racquets allow him.
Lots of tennis action happening around the grounds, of course, including the return of Andy Murray to Toronto for the first time since 2014. After a lengthy first set that lasted over an hour, he dispatched Lorenzo Sonego 7-6(3), 6-0.
Off Centre Court we had Korda, son of former Aussie Open champ Petr Korda, advance in a routine victory over Etcheverry on the Grandstand. Overall, there were ten American men entered in the singles draw at the NBO this year, highlighting the enormous depth they have in the sport.
On the practice courts, Daniil Medvedev was a popular player among the kids (and adults) seeking his autograph. After his session with his coach, he was happy to oblige the many fans who came over to drop some tennis balls from above the Cynamon courts.
These are the moments that can hook a child on the sport for life and this seems to be the typical response from the ATP players here in Toronto this year who clearly understand the value of these interactions. Whether it be an autograph or a selfie, the professionals are exactly that - professional - in how they handle themselves.
I’m not one to cozy up to the stars, something that is frowned upon in the media and for obvious reasons, but I had to make an exception today when I came across the Tennis Canada mascot, Ace, who was taking pictures with fans high above Centre Court.
The marquee match-up pitted the birthday boy Felix Auger-Aliassime against Australian qualifier Max Purcell. Birthdays in Toronto have not been particularly special for the Canadian who was beaten for the second time in three appearances in Toronto on his birthday.