National Bank Open: An unexpected ending is to be expected


The current National Bank Open men’s tournament will necessarily end with an unexpected final on Sunday in Montreal.

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At the bottom of the table, already stripped of seeds 2, 3 and 5 before Thursday, Daniel Evans, Tommy Paul and Jack Draper each reached the quarterfinals. In the third round they sent off Taylor Fritz, Marin Cilic and Gaël Monfils respectively, the latter injured.

“Every player in this tournament remains an excellent athlete and I am just happy to be a part of it right now,” said Draper, aware of the opportunity he has at his disposal.

Evans, a British countryman, is another who, at the bottom of the table, could take the opportunity to reach the semi-finals, or even the final. On Thursday he showed perseverance to finally fend off 10-seeded Fritz in three sets of 7-6 (5), 1-6 and 7-5.

Serving for the game in the tenth point of the third inning, he was broken, but he responded with a break himself. He then had to serve properly again to remove honors from the game.

“Daniel is an incredibly talented player and I think he should be this more often in the last days of a tournament,” boasted the young Draper. He has always been very nice to me and has always influenced me to believe in myself.

It is worth mentioning that Sinner, seeded seventh in the competition and 12th in the world, remained the highest-ranked contender in this part ahead of his scheduled game for late Thursday night. In addition to Tsitsipas, Carlos Alcaraz and Andrey Rublev were eliminated prematurely to pave the way to the bottom of the standings.

On Friday Evans will face Paul, 34th in the world, winner in two sets of 6-4 and 6-2 against Cilic, 13th seed. Few would have anticipated Evans or Paul in the four aces before the start of the competition.

Something to remind Raonic …

The top of the standings remains more substantial, despite the elimination of favorite Daniil Medvedev, with Nick Kyrgios, Hubert Hurkacz, Casper Ruud and Félix Auger-Aliassime reaching the quarter-finals.

The fact remains that the final will be an unprecedented final, with no real tenor, compared to previous men’s tournaments played in Montreal. In the most recent edition, in 2019, the favorite Rafael Nadal beat Medvedev in the final, then eighth seeded.

The presence of Canadian Milos Raonic in the 2013 final looks more like what is likely to happen, at the bottom of the table, by Sunday. We recall that that year Raonic had also beaten his compatriot Vasek Pospisil in the semifinals.

The absence of Alexander Zverev, Nadal and Novak Djokovic suggested possible surprise guests at the end of the tournament, but perhaps not at this point.

Finalists of the last men’s tournaments played in Montreal (in brackets: seeded at the time of the competition):

2019 = Rafael Nadal (1) and Daniil Medvedev (8)

2017 = Alexander Zverev (4) and Roger Federer (2)

2015 = Andy Murray (2) and Novak Djokovic (1)

2013 = Rafael Nadal (4) and Milos Raonic (11)

2011 = Novak Djokovic (1) and Mardy Fish (6)


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