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Monday Digest: players squeeze in one last tournament before Wimbledon

Jun 21, 2021
written by: Tennis Canada
written by: Tennis Canada

Tennis players from both tours try to get as much time on court as possibe as the already short grass-court section of the professional tennis calendar has been compressed even more this year.

Here’s what you need to know as we approach Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world.

Must watch this week

Andreescu in Eastbourne

At the Viking International Eastbourne, a WTA500 tournament, a great line-up awaits tennis fans. Featuring no less than five Top 10 players, the tournament will likely produce some of the best pre-Wimbledon clashes, although the points awarded here will not affect the Grand Slam draws.

The No. 3 seeded player will be Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, as she is still on the search for the consistency she showed back in 2019, a season where she seemed invincible. Andreescu lost in her last two opening rounds, at Roland Garros and at last week’s Bett1Open in Berlin.

Bianca Andreescu shouts after winning a point
Photo : Martin Sidorjak/Tennis Canada

Joining the Ontarian as the Top 10 women in the draw are: World No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 6 Elina Svitolina, No. 9 Iga Swiatek, and No. 10 Karolina Pliskova.

Andreescu also entered the doubles tournament this week with Yulia Putinseva of Kazakhstan.

Dabrowski, Fichman looking for big wins

Canadian doubles’ stars Gaby Dabrowski and Sharon Fichman both feature in the high-level WTA tournament this week. Being on different halves of the draw, the possibility is open for both to meet in the final match, however, they may have to overcome the top two teams in the draw in their second round matches.

Fichman will join her partner for most of this summer, Giuliana Olmos, with whom she won the biggest title of her career at the WTA1000 in Rome. Dabrowski teams up with 2020 US Open doubles champion Vera Zvonareva for a power team, although unseeded.

ATP’s best play in Eastbourne, Mallorca

In this unconvetional season, many top players entered tournaments a week before Wimbledon. While normally the elite would be getting a week off in order to rest and practice to be ready for the grass-court major, this year several players chose to keep playing the week before instead.

The Mallorca Championships, an ATP250, will count with three Top 10 men: World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, No. 5 Dominic Thiem, and No. 10 Roberto Bautista-Agut.

Additionally, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic features in the doubles draw, after accepting the invitation made by Toni Nadal, the tournament director and Rafael Nadal’s uncle. The five-time Wimbledon champion will team up with Spaniard Carlos Gomez-Herrera.

At Eastbourne, Vasek Pospisil is the only Canadian in the main draw. He will face Brit wildcard James Ward in the first round. Pospisil leads their head-to-head 2-1, with both his wins on grass, including an epic five-setter at Wimbledon in 2015.

In Case you missed it

Two women join the winners’ circle for the first time

Ons Jabeur and Liudmila Samsonova are the newest WTA champions. They had to overcome completely different draws in order to get their hands on their maiden trophies, Samsonova having to battle through qualifying, while Jabeur entered as the No. 2 seeded player.

On route to her first-ever WTA career title, World No. 24 Ons Jabeur had to work harder than she would have liked in her opening round match against Canada’s Leylah Fernandez. Fernandez, who is enjoying her best year on the WTA tour at 18-years-old, pushed Jabeur to a final-set tie-break, fighting toe-to-toe against her Top 30 opponent. Ultimately, Leylah fell to the eventual champion, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3).

Young guns make a statement

On the biggest grass tournaments after Wimbledon, two young players left their mark with outstanding runs to the title: World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini dropped only one set at the cinch Championships at the London Queen’s club, while Ugo Humbert took down two Top 10 players to clinch his biggest title so far at the Noventi Open in Halle.

Two Canadians also made strides on grass last week, as Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov both reached the semi-finals in Halle and London, respectively. Shapovalov was ousted by in-form Cameron Norrie in straight sets, while Auger-Aliassime, who beat Roger Federer earlier in the week, fell just short against eventual champion Humbert in a nail-biting semi-final.

Under the Radar

It was not the best day for for Canadian tennis, as fans found out Brayden Schnur and Steven Diez will face each other in the opening round of Wimbledon qualification tournament. Schnur and Diez will be coming off quarter-final showings in the Almaty 2 and Forli Challengers, respectively.

One of the Canadian rising players of the year, Carol Zhao, has proven to be one of the toughest competitors out there, winning several matches from a set down and reaching the latter stages of most events she played in. Sadly, however, Zhao’s tournament last week was cut short, the Canadian having to retire midway through the first set of her quarter-final match in a 25k ITF event in Switzerland.

Find out where Canadians will be playing next here.