Andy Murray hits a forehand on the run

Photo : ATP Tour

It is the last week before the last Grand Slam tournament of the year. The US Open concludes the North American hard-court season and the US Open series tournaments which include the National Bank Open in Toronto and Montreal. 

Here’s what you need to know this week before the last major of 202. 

Must Watch: Andy Murray, Françoise Abanda in search of top level 

Winston Salem 

The ATP 250 tournament is a great opportunitie for players ranked outside the Top 10 to get wins and confidence before the US Open. Winston-Salem features a 48-player draw, with the top 16 seeds getting a bye in their first round.  

Former World No. 1 Andy Murray, currently ranked just outside the Top 100 at No. 114, would have to win all 6 matches to claim the title. In his first round, he made light work of lucky-loser Noah Rubin in 58 minutes, defeating the American 6-2, 6-0, showing that his level is still well above his ranking.

With the title, Murray would move back into the Top 100 for the first time since 2018. 

Other players to watch in Winston-Salem this week:  

  • Carlos Alcaraz: the 18-year-old ascended rapidly in the rankings over the last couple of years, and won his first title last month in Umag, Croatia. 
  • Pablo Carreno Busta: the Spaniard is the top seed in Winston-Salem this week, and is aiming to build up his confidence ahead of the US Open, where he reached the semi-finals in 2020. 


At the WTA Chicago Women’s Open, a WTA250 event, Canadian Françoise Abanda will look to make a deep run after losing in the first round of qualifying in Montréal three weeks ago.  

Françoise Abanda in her service motion. Montréal sign on the floor behind her.
Photo : Tennis Canada

Abanda, who lost in two tight sets against Caroline Garcia in Montréal, earned her first win against a player ranked inside the Top 100 with a victory over World No. 65 Danka Kovinic. The straight sets win, with a 6-4, 6-2 final score line, could give the Canadian confidence to face her next oponent, Kristina Mladenovic, the no. 7 seeded player. 

The player to watch this week is, however, Elina Svitolina. The World No. 6 is the top seed in Chicago, but has hit a rough patch since winning the bronze medal in Tokyo: The Ukranian lost in her opening round in Montréal and Cincinnati, both times in three sets.  

Svitolina will be looking to gain confidence ahead of the US Open, where she reached the semi-final in 2019.  

In case you missed it: Dabrowski and Luisa’s great results 

Cincinnati, Canada

The hottest doubles partnership of the American hard-court summer is arguably the Canadian-Brazilian duo formed by Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani.  

The pair came together as a team after the Tokyo Olympics, where Luisa won the bronze medal for Brazil in doubles. Since then, they went on to reach three finals in a row in three weeks, namely San Jose and the two WTA 1000 tournaments in Montréal and Cincinnati, and won the title in Montréal. They compiled a 12-2 record in the past three weeks. 

Photo : Pascal Ratthé/Tennis Canada

In singles, the Canadian tournaments in Toronto and Montréal saw two first-time champions lifting the trophies: top seed Daniil Medvedev downed big serving Americans John Isner and Reilly Opelka in back-to-back matches to win the tournament, while unseeded Camila Giorgi caused the surprise of the week by upsetting Wimbledon semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova in the final to become the lowest-ranked player to win in Canada since Serena Williams in 2011 (No. 80). 

Ashleigh Barty prevented a similar outcome in Cincinnati when she defeated World No. 76 Jill Teichman in the final, asserting herself as the World No. 1, now for 90 weeks in total.  

A familiar face in the ATP 1000 winners’ circle, Alexander Zverev won his fifth crown at this level in a masterclass performance against Andrey Rublev. Rublev was making his second appearance in an ATP Masters 1000 final, having also reached the final in Monte Carlo earlier this year. 

Under the Radar 

Canadians Filip Peliwo and Carson Branstine play this week in the Talex Open 2021 in Poland and the Magic Hotel Tours in Tunisia, respectively. The Poland event is an ITF 25k event and the one in Tunisia is a 15k.  

Branstine opens against no. 2 seed Moyuka Uchijima, from Japan, and Peliwo, the no. 3 seed, opens against local player Pawel Cias. 

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.