Fifth seed Denis Shapovalov and ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime will be eager to put on a show for Canadian fans on Wednesday as they compete on home soil for the first time since 2019 at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers.
Shapovalov has come a long way since his 2017 breakthrough at his home ATP Masters 1000 event, and he returns to Toronto on a high after turning heads on grass courts. The 22-year-old reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon (l. to Djokovic), taking down the likes of Andy Murray, Roberto Bautista Agut and Karen Khachanov along the way.
Shapo In Toronto: ‘I’m Becoming A Really Big Threat’
He will be aiming to keep that momentum going as he faces Frances Tiafoe in the second round. The American lucky loser won their first encounter back in 2018, but Shapovalov has won all their matches since to lead their ATP Head2Head 4-1. The winner will face either 11th seed Gael Monfils or John Millman of Australia.
“The momentum is great from Wimbledon and I just feel like the past couple of months my game level has improved a couple more steps up,” Shapovalov said in a pre-tournament press conference. “I just feel like a confident player right now, I feel like I’m able to compete with anyone. I feel like I’m becoming a really big threat. Those are definitely super positive things for me.”
Joining Shapovalov in the quest to become the first men’s singles champion from Canada since Robert Bedard in 1958 – and the first in the Open Era – will be ninth seed Auger-Aliassime. The 21-year-old celebrated his birthday two days ago, and he aims to keep the party going as he faces Dusan Lajovic in his opening match.
Auger-Aliassime trails Lajovic 0-1 in their ATP Head2Head, but he arrives in Toronto with three hard-court matches under his belt. He will aim to shake off disappointing early exits at the Tokyo Olympics and Washington as he seeks to reach a second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final this week in Toronto. The in-form Casper Ruud, seeded sixth, will await the winner.
Also in action, fourth seed Andrey Rublev and Fabio Fognini will contest the ninth chapter of their increasing rivalry as they face off in the second round. The Italian leads their ATP Head2Head 5-3, but Rublev has won their past two encounters. Rublev or Fognini will face the winner of John Isner and 13th seed Cristian Garin.
Elsewhere, 15th seed Aslan Karatsev and Karen Khachanov will do battle in a clash between Olympic silver medalists – Khachanov in singles, Karatsev in mixed doubles (w/ Vesnina). The winner will next face third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.