The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Road to the NBO Presented by sobeys: How far can swiatek’s streak go?

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June 24, 2022
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Swiatek RG trophy

photo : tennisworldusa

Welcome to the Road to the National Bank Open. Every week, we will keep you updated on all the action on the WTA Tour as we build towards the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Toronto, which takes place from Aug. 6 to 14.

DAYS UNTIL THE NATIONAL BANK OPEN: 45

All eyes on the WTA tour remain on the dominant world No. 1 Iga Swiatek. Her win streak of 35-matches culminated in her second major title at Roland Garros a few weeks ago. After winning six straight titles, Swiatek has been taking some much needed rest and relaxation before Wimbledon begins Monday.

If she wins her first round match at the All England Club, she will break a tie with Venus Williams for the longest win streak of the 21st century. Grass is unfamiliar territory for her though, having played just eight matches on the surface. Should she find a way to master the lawns, there’s no telling how long the streak can last.

While the world awaits her much anticipated return, there are still two Wimbledon tune-up events to conclude this week and many storylines unfolding on the grass, including the return of Serena Williams.

On-Court Action:

WTA 500 Eastbourne

It doesn’t happen often that a doubles team is the talk of the town, but Onsrena stole the show in Eastbourne.

In order to get a few matches under her belt before Wimbledon, Serena teamed up with world No. 3 Ons Jabeur. The Tunisian had an 0-3 career record in doubles, but they powered through their first two matches to reach the semi-finals with some thrilling tennis.

Unfortunately, they did withdraw ahead of their semi-final due to Jabeur having a knee injury.

In the singles, Petra Kvitova put an end to Beatriz Haddad Maia’s unbeaten streak on grass (12-0) winning the semi-final 7-6(5) 6-4. Kvitova will face Jelena Ostapenko in her 6th grass court final (4-1 record).  

WTA 250 Bad Homburg

Former US Open champion and top 5 player Bianca Andreescu had not won a match on grass coming into 2022 but has found some success in Germany. She defeated top seed Daria Kasatkina 6-4 6-1 to reach the semi-finals.

Former Wimbledon champion Simona Halep was her semi-final opponent but withdrew with a neck injury. As a result, Andreescu is into her first final since 2021 Miami and will play Caroline Garcia for the trophy.

Stories to watch:

Serena Williams Return

As mentioned, the seven-time Wimbledon champion made her return to professional tennis this week. At 40 years of age, she will attempt to win a record 24th major title. It has been a year since Serena exited the first round of Wimbledon 2021 with a torn hamstring.

Due to the extended absence, Serena will be an unseeded wild card at Wimbledon. Having very few matches under her belt, her success will be contingent upon some easier matches in the early rounds to find her groove.

Iga Swiatek‘s streak on the line?

The new queen of women’s tennis Iga Swiatek has not lost a match since February 16th. A 35-match win streak eclipsed the mark of 34 by Serena in 2013. That streak is now tied with Venus Williams as the longest streak of the century.

Iga has not played a match on the grass courts in the lead up to Wimbledon. She was entered in the WTA 500 event in Berlin but withdrew due to a minor shoulder injury.

As the top seed in the draw, she will likely have some time to find her form in the early rounds. However, there are always dangerous grass court specialists floating around the draw. Recall the woman who ended Serena’s 34-match win streak at Wimbledon in 2013, Sabine Lisicki.

This year Serena herself looms as a giant killer. Fortunately for Iga, Serena did not land in her section of the draw. Swiatek is listed as the favorite to win the title, while none of the next eight players on oddschecker’s list (Jabeur, Gauff, Halep, Ostapenko, Serena, Haddad Maia, Kvitova, Bencic) are in her quarter.

Beatriz Haddad Maia 12-1 on grass in 2022

Beatriz Haddad Maia has been the biggest story of the grass season. The 26-year-old Brazilian had not won a WTA title nor been inside the top 40 until now. She won back-to-back WTA 250 titles in Nottingham and Birmingham to rise to a career-high ranking of 29.

With an additional two wins to reach the Eastbourne semis, she improved to 12-0 before ultimately losing to Kvitova. Some of the big names in those 12 wins include Maria Sakkari, Simona Halep, Camila Giorgi, Petra Kvitova, and Alison Riske. Haddad Maia will be seeded 23 at Wimbledon, the first time she has been seeded at a grand slam.

Grass court specialists to look out for

Don’t let the rankings fool you, not many tournaments are played on grass and therefore, the specialists often are not at the top of the rankings. As mentioned before the top player in the world has played just eight matches with four wins.

Some players outside the top 20 to keep an eye on who have had success in the past on grass are: Petra Kvitova (2-time Wimbledon champion), Madison Keys (2 grass titles and Wimbledon quarter-finalist), Alison Riske (50 wins and 3 finals on grass), Karolina Muchova (Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 2019 & 2021), and the defending NBO champion Camila Giorgi (1 grass title and Wimbledon quarter-finalist)

All but Karolina Muchova are seeded at Wimbledon. The top players can therefore feel some comfort until the third round, except Halep, who drew Muchova in the 1st round.

Off-Court Buzz:

Coco Gauff has given a very good hint to who she will play mixed doubles with at Wimbledon. Last week, Coco posted a question on twitter asking if any man wanted to team up with her. In an interview she revealed that she had received interest from a few players.

Felix Auger-Aliassime was a name that had been tossed around along with Nick Kyrgios, who has previously stated his interest to play with Gauff someday. Last year’s mixed doubles dream team at Wimbledon was Kyrgios and Venus Williams. It appears neither will get the call as she hinted that he will be a fellow American with lots of doubles experience.

Jack Sock is rumored to be the other half of this sure-fire dynamic duo. Sock has four major doubles titles (3 men’s doubles and 1 mixed doubles) including two at Wimbledon. He won in 2014 with Canadian Vasek Pospisil and in 2018 with Mike Bryan.

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