If the 2022 National Bank Open is as spectacular as the backdrop for the draw ceremony, it’s sure to be a tremendous success. The glass roof of Le Cathcart provided a view of the city’s skyscrapers, and judging by the number of people who kept looking up, it was at the risk of creating a few stiff necks.
On a sunny afternoon in downtown Montréal, the main draw of the Masters 1000—a lead-in to the last Slam of the season in NYC—came together.
With Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev on the sidelines, the top three seeds are World No.1 Daniil Medvedev, No.4 Carlos Alcaraz and No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Alcaraz and Tsitsipas were on hand for the draw, which was broadcast live in Québec by TVA Sports. They spoke at length with program co-hosts Andy Mailly-Pressoir and former WTA pro Marie-Ève Pelletier.
Alcaraz, who’s 19 years old, was reminded that another fiery young Spaniard won the first of his five Canadian titles back in 2005 at the very same age.
Tsitsipas said he loved Canada because of the Greek communities in Toronto and Montréal. He hopes to win here after failing at his first attempt at Sobeys Stadium.
Denis and Félix: different destinies
The draw had rather different destinies in store for our local heroes.
No.22 Denis Shapovalov is at the top of the draw, directly above No.21 Alex de Minaur. That’s no lucky break, since anyone who’s familiar with the tenacious Aussie’s game knows how much it can drive opponents crazy.
Shapovalov has lost nine of his last ten matches and is clearly struggling. Hopefully returning to the scene of an extraordinary Canadian triumph—his victory over Rafa in 2017—will give him the confidence he’s lacking. If he regains his form, he’ll be headed straight for a clash with the winner of a confrontation between the favourite and a joker, but not the one you think (more on that below).
As for No.9 Félix Auger-Aliassime, who’s also in the top half of the draw, he’s got nothing to complain about. As the sixth seed, he has a first-round bye and will face either a qualifier, a lucky loser or an exempted player.
If everything goes according to plan, his first test will come in the third round against recent Wimbledon semifinalist Cameron Norrie of Great Britain. Casper Ruud or Roberto Bautista Agut are potential opponents in the round of 16.
There are two Canadian wild cards in the main draw: veteran Vasek Pospisil and Alexis Galarneau, who was a finalist at the Winnipeg Challenger last weekend.
Pospisil, currently ranked No.141, is in the bottom half of the draw. His rival is No.34 Tommy Paul of the US. The winner will run into Carlos Alcaraz. As for Galarneau (No.238), he faces a tough challenge in No.19 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. If he manages to pull off an upset, the Quebecer could find himself on court with Denis Shapovalov in the next round.
The joker in the deck
A potential duel at the very top of the draw had everyone whispering. In his first match, World No.1 Daniil Medvedev could tussle with the man a lot of players fear in the early rounds: No.63 Nick Kyrgios of Australia. As long as he doesn’t get tripped up by No.31 Sebastian Baez of Argentina in round one, that is.
I can already hear you saying that anything can happen when it comes to Kyrgios. That’s true, but no one thought he’d be in the Wimbledon final just a few weeks ago. In recent months, it seems that the bad boy of professional tennis has decided to collect some points and some money. Between February and June, he moved up from No.137 to No.40. If there had been points awarded at the third Grand Slam of the year, he’d be flirting with the Top 20.
He remains the perfect joker of professional tennis.
Round one will showcase its share of exciting matches, like the showdown between Taylor Fritz of the US and Andy Murray of Great Britain and the duel between Diego Schwartzman of Argentina and the young Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain. And how about the battle between the Swiss veteran Stan Wawrinka and the emerging Finn Emil Ruusuvuori? Or the one between Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and Holger Rune of Denmark.
After the draw, Alcaraz and Tsitsipas were interviewed by the press. While Alcaraz answered questions, Tsitsipas seemed awed by the spectacular backdrop of the downtown location.
Now, all that’s left to do is play.
The main draw begins on Monday, August 8. The qualifying rounds will be decided this weekend during the IGA Family Weekend.