National Bank Open: expect an unexpected final

National Bank Open: expect an unexpected final

The current National Bank Open men’s tournament is bound to end with an unexpected final on Sunday in Montreal.

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Bottom of the table, having already lost seeds 2, 3 and 5 before Thursday, Daniel Evans, Tommy Paul and Jack Draper each advanced to the quarterfinals. They each sacked Taylor Fritz, Marin Cilic and Gaël Monfils in the third round, with the latter suffering from an injury.

“Every player in this tournament remains an excellent athlete and I’m just happy to be a part of it now,” said Draper, still aware of the opportunity at his disposal.

Evans, a compatriot, is another who could benefit from bottoming out to reach the semi-finals or even the final. He showed endurance on Thursday to eventually eliminate 10th seed Fritz in three sets 7-6(5), 1-6, and 7-5.

Serving for the game in the tenth point of the third inning, he was broken but responded with a break himself. It was then enough for him to serve properly one more time to remove the honor of the game.

“Daniel is an incredibly talented player and I think he should be like that more often in the final days of a tournament,” boasted young Draper. He was always very nice to me and always made me believe in myself.

It’s worth noting that Sinner, seventh in the competition and 12th in the world rankings, remains the top contender in this stretch for his match scheduled for late Thursday night. In addition to Tsitsipas, Carlos Alcaraz and Andrey Rublev, who were eliminated prematurely, clear the way to the bottom of the table.

On Friday, Evans meets Paul, ranked 34th in the world, winner in straight sets 6-4 6-2 against Cilic, the 13th seed. Few people would have predicted the presence of Evans or Paul in the quad before the start of the competition.

Something to remind Raonic of…

The top of the table remains fuller despite the elimination of favorite Daniil Medvedev with Nick Kyrgios, Hubert Hurkacz, Casper Ruud and Félix Auger-Aliassime reaching the quarters.

The fact remains that compared to the previous men’s tournaments in Montreal, the final will be an unprecedented final without a true tenor. In the last edition in 2019, favorite Rafael defeated Nadal Medvedev, then eighth-seeded, in the final.

The presence of Canadian Milos Raonic in the final game of 2013 looks more likely as Sunday’s bottom of the table is likely to happen. Remember that Raonic also beat his compatriot Vasek Pospisil in the semifinals that year.

The absences of Alexander Zverev, Nadal and Novak Djokovic hinted at possible surprise guests late in the tournament, but perhaps not at this stage.

Finalists from the most recent men’s tournaments held in Montreal (in brackets: seeded at the time of the competition):

2019 = Rafael Nadal (1) and Daniil Medvedev (8)

2017 = Alexander Zverev (4) and Roger Federer (2)

2015 = Andy Murray (2) and Novak Djokovic (1)

2013 = Rafael Nadal (4) and Milos Raonic (11)

2011 = Novak Djokovic (1) and Mardy Fish (6)