MEET THE NBO PLAYERS: LEYLAH FERNANDEZ LOOKS FOR BREAKTHROUGH ON HOME SOIL
Photo : Martin Sidorjak
The preliminary player list for the 2022 National Bank Open presented by Rogers was released on Thursday, July 14 and includes 41 of the top 43 players in the WTA Rankings.
As the National Bank Open, which takes place from Aug. 6 to 14 at Sobeys Stadium, approaches, we will be highlighting some players to watch this summer as the best in women’s tennis arrive in Toronto.
LEYLAH ANNIE FERNANDEZ
Age: 19 Current Ranking: 14 Career-High: 14 (July 11, 2022)
NBO Appearance: 3rd Best NBO Result: 1R (2: 2019, 2021)
Most Recent NBO Result: 1R (2021)
2022 Record: 16-8 Career NBO Record: 0-2
A lot has changed since Leylah Fernandez last played in Toronto.
That was 2019, when she competed in just her second event on the WTA tour. Since then, she has won a pair of titles, reached a Grand Slam final at the US Open, and cracked the Top 20 in the rankings.
When Fernandez arrives for the 2022 National Bank Open, she will be looking for her first victory at her home WTA 1000 event, but history is in her favour, as she has won at least a round at three of the four WTA 1000 events she has competed in this year.
During rain delays, Fernandez likes to do puzzles and Rubiks cubes.
Age: 26 Current Ranking: 3 Career-High: 3 (March 21, 2022)
NBO Appearance: 4th Best NBO Result: 3R (2021)
Most Recent NBO Result: 3R (2021)
2022 Record: 27-14 Career NBO Record: 2-3
Maria Sakkari is arguably the best player on the WTA tour who has not won a “big title”. She’s reached the semi-finals twice at grand slams, once at the year-end championships, and five times at WTA 1000’s. She’s 1-7 in those semi-final matches and has lost to the eventual champion six of the eight times she’s reached the final four.
This season she reached the semi-finals in Qatar and finals in Indian Wells at WTA 1000 events on hardcourts. At both tournaments, she was defeated by the unstoppable Iga Swiatek. Those losses came during Swiatek’s incredible 37-match win streak.
Although she has a losing record at the National Bank open, she’s due for a potential championship run.
Fun Fact: Maria Sakkari is one of the fittest players on tour and loves nearly all forms of exercise except for long-distance running.
Age: 21 Current Ranking: 1 Career-High: 1 (April 4, 2022)
NBO Appearance: 2nd Best NBO Result: 3R (2019) Most Recent NBO Result: 3R (2019)
2022 Record: 46-4 Career NBO Record: 2-1
Currently ranked no.1 in the world, Świątek, recently coming off of an impressive 37-match winning streak, is the first player representing Poland to win a major singles title.
In 2020, she became the youngest singles champion at the French Open since Rafael Nadal in 2005 and the youngest women’s singles champion at a major since Maria Sharapova in 2004.
Her last visit to the National Bank Open was in 2019 when she made it to round 16 losing to Naomi Osaka, 6-7, 4-6.
Fun facts: She began playing tennis because her older sister was playing and had the competitive drive to beat her. She enjoys rock music including AC/DC, and Pink Floyd, and celebrates with her favourite dessert, tiramisu after winning a tournament.
Age: 40 Current Ranking: 399 (Protected: 18) Career-High: 1 (July 8, 2002)
NBO Appearance: 10th Best NBO Result: Champion (3: 2001, 2011, 2013) Most Recent NBO Result: Final (2019)
2022 Record: 0-1 Career NBO Record: 34-5
After a year away from the tour, Serena Williams made her return last month at Wimbledon. Her road back will head through Toronto, her first hard-court event since the 2021 Australian Open.
The National Bank Open is one of Williams’ most successful WTA 1000 events. Her three titles, all coming in Toronto, are the third most at any event at the 1000 level, behind her eight Miami titles and four in Rome.
Williams has reached at least the semi-finals in her last six visits to Canada and only once, back in 2005, has she ever failed to reach the final four at this event.
Fun Fact: Serena Williams’ pet yorkie is named after her fellow 20+-time Grand Slam singles winner, Rafael Nadal.