Tennis

Monday Digest: Andreescu peaking on grass as Wimbledon arrives

The biggest two weeks of the tennis season have arrived.

There is really no question that no tournament on the schedule is more famous, more renowned than Wimbledon. It’s often referred to as the de-facto world championship of the sport. Win Wimbledon, and you are a legend forever.

And one Canadian looks to be rounding into form just in time.

Here’s what you need to know.

In Case You Missed It: First Grass Final for Bianca

Grass-court Bianca Andreescu is a bit of an enigma on the WTA tour. Between her injuries and the cancellation of the grass season in 2020, there has not been much opportunity for her to compete.

It looks like the 2019 US Open champion is finding her confidence on the surface, and doing so at the perfect time as Andreescu will arrive at Wimbledon hot on the heels of her first grass-court final in Bad Homburg.

Andreescu did not drop a set on her way to the title match, including wins over Roland-Garros semi-finalist Martina Trevisan and top seed Daria Kasatkina. She then got a free pass when Simona Halep withdrew before their semi-final.

The Canadian looked primed to claim her first title since the US Open when she led Caroline Garcia by a set and a break, but the Frenchwoman was able to rally to defeat Andreescu in three sets. Still, just by reaching the final Andreescu ended a 15-month final drought, having not reached one since Miami 2021.

Rebecca Marino got one more match win under her belt before heading to Wimbledon, reaching the second round of the WTA 500 event in Eastbourne, beating Heather Watson in straight sets before falling to Camila Giorgi.

Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also looks to be rounding into form heading into her best event, as she defeated Jelena Ostapenko in the final of Eastbourne.

Kvitova ended the unbeaten grass run of Beatriz Haddad Maia in the semi-finals before taking down the Latvian, both in straight sets, to claim her first title of the season.

There were two Top 5 players competing in Eastbourne, Paula Badosa and Maria Sakkari. Both lost in the second round.

Much of the attention in Eastbourne was on the doubles, where Serena Williams was returning to the tour after almost a full-year absence. She and partner Ons Jabeur won their first two matches to reach the semi-finals before withdrawing in the semis.

Gabriela Dabrowski reached the quarter-finals of the Eastbourne doubles, where she and Giuliana Olmos lost to the eventual champions Magda Linette and Aleksandra Krunic.

Linette and Krunic were gifted the title, not having to hit a ball after the quarter-final with Dabrowski and Olmos as both their semi-final and final opponents withdrew.

Stefanos Tsitsipas becomes the youngest active men’s player with at least a title on clay, hard, and grass

He’s the first man born after 1994 to achieve the feat pic.twitter.com/rL50p5C8z5

— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) June 25, 2022

It was another week to forget for Denis Shapovalov, who lost his sixth consecutive match, falling to Benjamin Bonzi in the second round of the Mallorca Championships. The Canadian has not won a match since defeating Rafael Nadal in Rome.

Stefanos Tsitsipas went on to win that title, his first career victory on grass, beating Roberto Bautista Agut in the final. The Spaniard had defeated world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals.

At the men’s Eastbourne event, Taylor Fritz walked away with the title, his first since winning Indian Wells in March, defeating serve-and-volleying countryman Maxime Cressy in a third-set tiebreak in the final.

What to Watch: Put on your whites and grab some strawberries

The third major of the season begins on Monday at the All England Club with four Canadians in the singles draw.

Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov are both seeded and will be looking to improve upon their strong performances at Wimbledon in 2021.

It will be a tricky start for both of them. Auger-Aliassime, the sixth seed, will meet Eastbourne runner-up Maxime Cressy, a serve-and-volleyer who has a game suited to grass, in the first round. He could meet 28th seed Dan Evans in the third round and Eastbourne champion Taylor Fritz in round four.

Should he reach the quarter-finals, Auger-Aliassime could get a shot at revenge for his heart-breaking loss at the French Open to Rafael Nadal, only this time on a surface where the Canadian is more comfortable.

Nadal is continuing his bid for the Grand Slam, having won the first two majors of the season, although he is over a decade remove from his last final at Wimbledon.

As for Shapovalov, he will open against Arthur Rinderknech, who has always given the Canadian trouble, including beating him earlier this year in Doha. If he snaps his six-match losing streak, the 2021 semi-finalist could meet Mallorca runner-up Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round followed by Mallorca champion and fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round.

Both Canadian men are in the bottom half with 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini, who beat Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals last year.

Despite being unseeded, Bianca Andreescu got lucky with draw and drew qualifier Emina Bektas in the first round. She could meet Sloane Stephens in the second round and former champion Garbine Muguruza in the third.

Tough loss for 🇨🇦 Rebecca Marino… Gets broken serving for the match & loses final 4 games falling to Qualifier Katarzyna Kawa 6-4 3-6 7-5 … RM 29 winners 57 errors in first main draw Wimbledon match since 2011 #Wimbledon #Wimbledon2022

— John Horn (@SportsHorn) June 27, 2022

Eighth seed Jessica Pegula is the likely fourth-round opponent, followed by world No. 1 Iga Świątek in the quarter-finals.

Rebecca Marino was the first Canadian to play at the 2022 championships, but was defeated in three sets by qualifier Katarzyna Kawa, despite serving for the match in the third set. Marino was playing her first match at Wimbledon since 2011.

Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic is the top seed on the men’s side. He is in the same quarter as fifth seed Carlos Alcaraz and same half as third seed Casper Ruud. Seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz was a potential semi-final opponent, but he was upset on Monday by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Like Andreescu, the draw was kind to the other dangerous floater in the women’s draw, Serena Williams. The 23-time major champion opens against Harmony Tan and could meet 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second round.

Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams stopped to say hi as Serena left her practice court and Rafa went to his.

He asked how she’s doing and she said congrats for everything. #Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/znIuldJuzz

— Yasmin Syed (@yasminstefsyed) June 27, 2022

Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova could be Williams’ third round opponent, followed by countrywoman Coco Gauff in round four.

Anett Kontaveit is the second seed, although third seed Ons Jabeur is the oddsmakers second-favourite for the title behind Świątek, who with a first-round win over Jana Fett would set a new record for the longest winning streak in the 21st century by a woman with 36 in a row.

Gabriela Dabrowski is the lone Canadian competing in doubles. She and Giuliana Olmos are seeded third and will meet Yulia Putintseva and Yanina Wickmayer in the first round.

They are in the same quarter as fifth seeds Asia Muhammad and Ena Shibahara and in the top half with top seeds Elise Mertens and Shuai Zhang.

No ranking points will be handed out this year at Wimbledon by the ATP and WTA in response to the Lawn Tennis Association’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players.

As a result of the ban, combined with an injury to men’s world No. 2 Alexander Zverev, this is the first edition of the Wimbledon Championships since the introduction of computer rankings in 1973 where the top two players in the rankings are absent.

Under the Radar:

It was a quieter week for the Canadians last week. The biggest result came courtesy of Ariana Arseneault, who reached the doubles final of a W25 event in Wichita.

Canada’s Dan Martin reached the singles quarter-final of the M15 event in Monastir, Tunisia.

This week, Vasek Pospisil and Steven Diez are both competing in an ATP Challenger event in Malaga.

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.



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