The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Top storylines heading into the 2022 National Bank Open

July 14, 2022
bianca andreescu serena williams nbo 2019

Photo: Jared Wickerham

By Max Gao

Three years after their last appearance in town, the top women of the Hologic WTA Tour are set to return to the storied grounds of Sobeys Stadium to vie for another prestigious National Bank Open presented by Rogers title. With 41 of the world’s top 43 players—including the entire top 30—all booking their ticket to Toronto, this year’s event, which will operate at full capacity, promises to be one of the most exciting in tournament history.

Return of the Hometown Hero

A wild card entry into this year’s event, former U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu is still in the early stages of her comeback, but the Mississauga native will be gearing up for another sensational summer on the North American hardcourts.

In 2019, Andreescu backed up her win at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells with a fairytale run at the National Bank Open to become the first Canadian woman in 50 years to win the title. She was able to parlay her success at home into a dream run at Flushing Meadows a few weeks later, defeating Caroline Wozniacki, Belinda Bencic and Serena Williams en route to becoming the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Joining Andreescu in the main draw is 19-year-old Laval native Leylah Annie Fernandez, who reached last year’s final of the U.S. Open and this year’s quarterfinals of Roland-Garros before being forced to pull out of Wimbledon due to a right-foot injury. Fernandez will be looking for her first main-draw win, having lost in the first round of the last two editions of this event.

The Return of the GOAT

After being forced to retire in the 2019 final against Andreescu, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will return to Toronto with her eye on her fourth Canadian Open title. (All three of her past Canadian titles were won in Toronto.) Having fallen in the first round at Wimbledon, Williams, who is using a protected ranking for this event, will be looking to get off on the right foot in the lead-up to the U.S. Open, where she will be looking to win her seventh title and a record-tying 24th major.

Swiatek Looking for New Winning Streak

Following the surprising retirement of Ashleigh Barty earlier this year, Poland’s Iga Swiatek was in pole position to take over the top spot and immediately assumed the mantle of being the World No. 1. The Pole won 37 matches in a row, winning titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and Paris (Roland Garros).

While her record-breaking winning streak might have come to an end at the hands of Alizé Cornet (who will also be making her ninth appearance at the Canadian Open) at Wimbledon, Swiatek will be looking to start a new one in the lead-up to the U.S. Open. In 2019, the Pole reached the round of 16 as a qualifier in her only previous appearance at this event, dazzling the Toronto crowd with her shotmaking and athleticism in matches with Grand Slam champions Wozniacki and Naomi Osaka.

Wimbledon Champion Rybakina to Make Debut in Toronto; Kontaveit, Sakkari, Badosa, Jabeur Round Out Top 5

Fresh off her run to the Wimbledon title, Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina will make her first trip to Toronto. But since she did not win any points at the Championships, Rybakina, who is currently ranked No. 23 in the world, will most likely be outside of the top-16 seeds, making her a dangerous floater in a very competitive event.

World No. 5 Ons Jabeur, who has already won two titles in 2022 and lost to Rybakina in the Wimbledon final, will be looking to build on her career-best season by going a few rounds better than her quarterfinal run in Montreal last summer. World No. 2 Anett Kontaveit, World No. 3 Maria Sakkari and World No. 4 Paula Badosa—who have all been in close contention with Jabeur for the second spot in the rankings—will round out the rest of the Top 5 in Toronto this year.

Giorgi, Halep, Kvitova Among Former Champions

This year’s event will feature six former champions: Andreescu, Williams, Simona Halep, Bencic, Petra Kvitova and Camila Giorgi.

Halep has enjoyed a solid season—winning an event in Melbourne and making five other semifinals, including at Wimbledon—and she will be looking to recapture the same form that won her two Canadian Open titles in Montreal. Kvitova, meanwhile, has only recently begun to find her best tennis, winning the title in Eastbourne in the lead-up to Wimbledon. The 2012 champion will be making her 12th main-draw appearance at this event.

Last summer, Giorgi blitzed through the women’s field in Montreal, defeating Kvitova, Elise Mertens, Coco Gauff and Karolina Pliskova en route to winning her biggest title to date. The big-hitting Italian will return to Toronto, where she has yet to win a main-draw match, to defend her title, but she will undoubtedly be a dangerous floater in the field.

Raducanu Begins Road Back to Flushing Meadows; Return of Former Slam Champions Osaka, Azarenka, Kenin

At last year’s U.S. Open, Emma Raducanu pulled off one of the most unlikely sporting feats in recent memory, winning 10 matches (including three in qualifying) to win her first major at 18 years of age. Since then, the British No. 1 has made her top-10 debut, but she has largely struggled with injuries. In her first appearance in Toronto, where she was also born, Raducanu will be looking to begin her road back to Flushing Meadows on a more positive note.

After being forced to sit out of Wimbledon, Grand Slam champions Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Sofia Kenin will all be returning to Toronto, where they have all made deep runs in the past. Three years ago, Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion who is returning from an Achilles injury, lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, while Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion, lost to Andreescu in the semifinals. Azarenka, meanwhile, is a three-time semifinalist at this event and will be looking to kick off her North American summer swing in style en route to the U.S. Open, where she is a three-time runner-up.

Gauff vs. Halep lead Friday day session
Pliskova/Bencic play Friday night