The US Open Series provides the tune-up for the US Open and the second tournament, the National Bank Open in Montréal, the first WTA 1000 event of the summer hard-court swing through North American, takes place next week with disappointing news that Naomi Osaka, Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek have all pulled out of the field announced on Tuesday.
I am very sorry but this year I will not be able to play in Montréal. The first part of the season was so intense that I need a couple of days off to rest and prepare for the next few months. I’m looking forward to playing in Canada in 2022. Iga Świątek
Osaka is coming off a 3rd-round loss at the Tokyo Olympics, where she had the honour of lighting the cauldron during the opening ceremony, but the Japanese 23-year old had not competed since withdrawing before her second-round match at the French Open, citing the need for a mental health break, and missing Wimbledon entirely.
Ranked No 2 in the world, Osaka has 4 major championships to her name, all won on hard courts, including this year’s Australian Open.
Kenin is ranked 4th, who won the 2020 Australian Open, has been sidelined by a foot injury since Wimbledon, while Swiatek, the World No 8 and last year’s French Open champion, lost in the 2nd round of the Olympics.
As a result, World No 51 Shuai Zhang, No 52 Marie Bouzkova, and Liudmila Samsonova move into the main draw.
“I am sorry to be missing out on Montréal this year,” said Osaka. “Sending my best to all the fans there, the tournament and the staff. I hope to see you all in Canada next year.”
Kenin is still recovering from the foot injury that forced her to skip the Olympics.
“While I’m making progress, my foot injury is not where I need it to be to play at the highest level,” Kenin said. “I feel another week of recovery and rehab is necessary. I want to thank Tennis Canada for all its efforts in holding the event during such challenging times.”
Like Osaka, Swiatek is also coming off an emotional Olympic debut, and the World No 8 has played a heavy schedule in the first half of the season, capturing titles in Adelaide and Rome and making the Round of 16 or better at the Australian Open, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon.
“I am very sorry but this year I will not be able to play in Montréal,” said Swiatek. “The first part of the season was so intense that I need a couple of days off to rest and prepare for the next few months. I’m looking forward to playing in Canada in 2022.”
The good news, however, is that Canadian Bianca Andreescu will return to defend the title she won in 2019, with the World No 5 set to play for the first time since losing in the first round at Wimbledon.
Andreescu will be looking to play her first hard-court tournament since making the Miami Open final in April after going 3-4 through the clay and grass seasons.
The North American hard-courts are where Andreescu thrives. During her breakout 2019, the Canadian won Indian Wells and Toronto before going on to win the US Open a few weeks later.
The Montreal field will be led by World No 3 Aryna Sabalenka, and includes Tokyo Bronze medalist Elina Svitolina, and Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliksova.
Fit-again Simona Halep accepted a wild-card to return to competition for the first time since retiring in Rome due to a calf injury, which kept the Romanian out of Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the Olympics.
Newly-crowned Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, who beat Marketa Vondrosouva in the Gold Medal match in Tokyo, is also in the line-up together with French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who is also projected to be seeded in the draw..
Other players in the field include Garbiñe Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Jennifer Brady, Victoria Azarenka, Elise Mertens and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
“Of course, we are disappointed that Naomi, Sofia and Iga won’t be competing in Montréal this year,” said Tournament Director Eugène Lapierre. “But despite their withdrawals, we are still counting on the exceptional players in the draw, including the 2019 champion, our very own Bianca Andreescu, as well as World No.3 Aryna Sabalenka and two-time National Bank Open champion Simona Halep.
“Fans should expect a few surprises because the draw has so much depth and is one of the best we’ve had in recent years.
“Anything is possible, and that means some exciting tennis is in store!”
The Canadian Open, which was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, runs from 9-15 August at the IGA Stadium in Montréal, with the main draw ceremony due to take place on 7 August.