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Medvedev leads the way, Swiatek’s Ukraine exhibition: What you shouldn’t miss while you’re waiting for the National Bank Open in August

Before the big events in Canada and Cincinnati this summer, there will be plenty of tennis played, on both sides of the pond

Medvedev, Swiatek, Thiem Medvedev, Swiatek, Thiem – © Paroramic

The National Bank Open presented by Rogers begins on August 5 this year, with the men playing in Montreal and the women in Toronto.

As always, the Canadian Open will be a huge event, spanning the country’s two major cities and its two languages. Defending champions for the ATP/ WTA 1000 event this time are Daniil Medvedev for the men and Camila Giorgi for the women.

And the entry list has one notable surprise – Serena Williams makes her return, using her protected ranking, along with 41 of the top 43-ranked women in the world.

The US Open Series, which features 1000-level events in Canada and Cincinnati, will mark the return of several big names to the tour, including Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka, and potentially, if things go his way, Novak Djokovic.

Nadal and Swiatek are already entered in Canada. Meanwhile, the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. (August 1-7) will mark the return of Leylah Fernandez, out since Roland-Garros with a foot injury. Additionally, the US capital will also welcome back Emma Raducanu, Nick Kyrgios and Simona Halep. Each will play their first post-Wimbledon tennis in the hard courts at the Citi Open. Osaka, who has not played the French Open. will make her return at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose.

Kei Nishikori, former US Open finalist and world No 4, also begins to begin his comeback in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, former world No 3 Dominic Thiem is also back, scoring back-to-back wins in Bastad to reach the quarter-finals. The 2020 US Open is also playing in Gstaad this week where he is through to the second round before heading to the States to play on hardcourts.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap on the North American hard courts, prior to the start of the National Bank Open, this summer.

1. Daniil Medvedev, on top of the world

The Russian missed out on Wimbledon but will be looking to extend his reign on the top of the rankings this time round. He will be in Los Cabos at the start of August, before heading to Montreal. It’s an important section of the season for Medvedev, as it is played on his favourite surface, and he’ll be defending big points from 2021, most notably at the US Open, where he will defend his title.

2. Andy Murray – comeback king

The three-time Grand Slam champion accepted a wild card for the International Hall of Fame Tennis Open, an ATP 250 event on grass, with the intent of climbing the rankings ahead of the US Open and potentially being seeded. Murray went on to reach the quarter-finals in Newport and is now back in the top 50.

Expect to see him enter some more smaller events to pick up some points – fitness permitting – over the next month.

3. All happening in Hamburg, with Alcaraz back

There’s a joint men’s and women’s clay event taking place in Hamburg this week, with the entry list led by some young guns – Carlos Alcaraz, Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner. The WTA side of things has Danielle Collins and Barbora Krejcikova, but attention is likely to be on a home favourite ranked 109th in the world, Jule Niemeier, who caught the world’s attention with her run at Wimbledon.

4. Swiatek’s charity exhibition

Iga Swiatek’s exhibition event in Krakow takes place on July 23 – featuring Agniezska Radwanska and Sergiy Stakhovsky. Special guests include Elina Svitolina – absent from the tour due to her pregnancy – and football legend Andriy Shevchenko. The whole thing is to raise money for victims of war in Ukraine, a topic about which the world No 1 has been very vocal.

5. Swiatek looks to start another streak

After her surprise departure from Wimbledon at the hands of Alize Cornet, the world No 1 will return to competitive action at the BNP Paribas Poland Open on July 25.

The world No 1 had her 37-match winning streak snapped at Wimbledon and will look to reconnect with winning ways in North America.

It will be a challenge for Swiatek, as she hasn’t developed a sense of comfort at the flagship events of the US Open series at this stage of her career. The Pole won two matches in Toronto in 2019 before losing to Naomi Osaka – she was just 18 at the time. Swiatek has one victory at Cincinnati, but has lost her last three matches at the Western and Southern Open.

It has been a solid year on hard courts thus far for Swiatek, however. She is 26-3 on the surface with titles at Doha, Indian Wells and Miami.

6. Carlos on … clay?

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz has proven he can play on all surfaces over the last two seasons, and fans are excited to see how he does in North America this summer, especially in New York, where he will defend quarter-final points.

But first, we will see the Spaniard playing on clay at Hamburg before defending his title at Umag, Croatia. Last year at Umag, Alcaraz became the youngest ATP title winner in over a decade, and he will play there again this year (July 25-31). It’s an interesting bit of scheduling for the 19-year-old Spaniard.

Alcaraz is slated to begin his hard court season at Montreal, where he has never played, before heading to Cincinnati, where he has never won a main draw match.

7. Naomi returns in San Jose

Once known as the Queen of Hardcourts, Naomi Osaka has had a tough time over the past 18 months. But the former world No 1 showed some sign of resurgence when she reached the Miami final in March. An Achilles injury derailed her clay court season and she skipped the grass court season to recover from that.

Osaka has entered the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose in the first week of August, before heading to Toronto and Cincinnati. A return to form for Osaka on hardcourts will surely make things very interesting for the fans.

All the ATP and WTA tour details

After the excitement of Wimbledon, the usual tour calendar continues – with the ATP and WTA in town in Hamburg next week and in Washington DC for the Citi Open from August 1.

  • July 17-23, Hamburg European Open (WTA 250/ATP 500)
  • July 18-24, Palermo Ladies Open (WTA 250), EFG Swiss Open Gstaad (ATP 250)
  • July 25-31, Livesport Prague Open (WTA 250), BNP Paribas Poland Open (WTA 250), Atlanta Open (ATP 250), Generali Open (ATP 250), Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag (ATP 250)
  • August 1-7, BCR Iasi Open (WTA 125), Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic (WTA 500), Abierto de Tenis Mifel (ATP 250), Citi Open (WTA 250/ATP 500)
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