Wild card Nick Kyrgios headlines Day 1 of the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Toronto when he squares off against another big server in American Reilly Opelka. The Australian owns a 5-6 record in Canada’s ATP Masters 1000 event, but has fallen at the first hurdle in his previous two outings there.
The World No. 77 has contested only five tour-level events in 2021 and has gone 1-2 in North America since Wimbledon, including an opening-round defeat to eventual finalist Mackenzie McDonald at the Citi Open last week.
His best wins this season both came over Frenchman Ugo Humbert in five sets at a major – in the second round at the Australian Open and first round at Wimbledon. It marks the first time since the North American hard-court swing in 2019 that Kyrgios has played three tournaments back-to-back.
“I don’t take any match for granted any more. Every time I’m at an event, at a special one… I don’t take any day for granted,” Kyrgios said in Washington, D.C last week. “I love being around it. I try and soak in as much as I can. Just the practice, being around the courts, being at the highest level, I don’t take that for granted.”
Opelka is 2-2 since the switch to hard court on home soil and comes off a second-round defeat to John Millman in Washington, D.C last week. In May, the No. 36 in the FedEx ATP Rankings reached his maiden ATP Tour Masters 1000 semi-final in Rome before he fell to Rafael Nadal. He has never faced Kyrgios and the winner will take on No. 14 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.
— National Bank Open (@NBOtoronto) August 8, 2021
World No. 37 Marin Cilic contests his first event since claiming a silver medal in doubles with Ivan Dodig at the Tokyo Olympics last month. The 32-year-old, who went down to eventual bronze medallist Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round of the singles, faces Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas in the first round on Monday. Cilic leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head ledger 4-3, however the Spaniard claimed their most recent encounter in straight sets in Shanghai two years ago.
The Croatian has a 12-10 record at this event and has performed better when it has been held in Toronto. His two quarter-finals appearances in Canada came on debut in 2008 and a decade later, both times in Toronto. He lost to Dominic Thiem in the round of 16 two years ago and would meet sixth seed Casper Ruud next should he prevail.
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British World No. 27 Daniel Evans carries a 1-1 ATP Head2Head record into his first round in Toronto against dangerous 24-year-old Alexander Bublik. Evans prevailed on hard court in Adelaide last year, while Bublik claimed the rubber for Kazakhstan on an indoor hard court in the 2019 Davis Cup Finals in Spain. The winner will meet top seed Daniil Medvedev for a place in the round of 16.
Italian Fabio Fognini and German Jan-Lennard Struff have also split their two ATP Head2Head meetings ahead of their first-round clash in Toronto. World No. 32 Fognini comes off a three-set round of 16 defeat to Medvedev in Tokyo, while world No. 46 Struff fell to top seed Novak Djokovic there in the second round. Fourth seed Andrey Rublev awaits in the second round.