Canada holds fond memories for top seed Daniil Medvedev, as the site of his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final two years ago. On Tuesday, the Russian will return for the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers to open his campaign against one-time doubles partner Alexander Bublik.
Medvedev defeated Dominic Thiem en route to a final showdown with Rafael Nadal in Montreal in 2019 and despite coming up short it paved the way for a scorching North American hard-court swing, which included a first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati a week later and his first Grand Slam final in New York.
The 25-year-old holds a 3-0 ATP Head2Head advantage over the flashy Bublik, of Kazakhstan, including a 6-4, 7-6(8) victory in the first round of last month’s Tokyo Olympic Games. Medvedev also claimed the honours in the opening round at Roland Garros this year on his way to a maiden quarter-final in the French capital.
The Russian has picked up 10 of his 11 ATP Tour titles on hard courts and made no secret of how pleased he was to be back on his favourite surface at an event he has found success at before. “I like to play in Canada. I love playing in Toronto, I played only one time here,” he said. “I made… third round [having won through qualifying], which was a good result for me at the time.
“Feels great to be in a Masters 1000 again on hard courts, I like playing hard courts, so just want to show good tennis, play some good games, win as many matches as possible. That’s what I like to do.”
Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas begins his campaign against dangerous Frenchman Ugo Humbert on Tuesday. The Greek, who climbed to a career-high of No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday, lost both ATP Head2Head encounters against the World No. 27 – in a third-set tie-break at the Rolex Paris Masters last year and at last month’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
Like Medvedev, the 22-year-old’s first Masters 1000 final came in Canada, in Toronto three years ago, when he became the youngest player to beat four Top 10 opponents at a single tournament since the ATP Tour was established in 1990. Humbert comes off a first-round win over Italian Lorenzo Sonego.
“I’m feeling good with my game, really happy to be back to Toronto, one of my favourite places to compete and play tennis,” Tsitsipas said. “The location is exactly as I remember it. I’m just generally happy to be competing here again.”
Bublik Beats Evans In Toronto, Sets Medvedev Clash
Sixth seed Casper Ruud will look to transfer a red-hot streak on clay to hard courts when he takes on former World No. 3 Marin Cilic in the second round. The Norwegian won three titles in as many weeks last month and will carry a 1-0 ATP Head2Head record into his match against the 32-year-old, a recent doubles silver medallist at the Tokyo Olympics with Ivan Dodig. Cilic posted a three-set victory over Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas.