FILLING THE CUP Open win a major boost
Canadians excited as draw set for tournament
TORONTO — Francoise Abanda can’t wait to get on the court.
It’s little surprise, considering the season the 20-year-old Montreal native has been enjoying on the 2017 WTA Tour.
When the Rogers Cup opens at the Aviva Centre, Abanda will try to build off her play at Wimbledon and the French Open, where she won both of her first-round matches.
“It’s always great to play at home, I’ve had a great year so far and hopefully I can keep going with my momentum,” Abanda said Friday at the Royal Ontario Museum, where the draw was held for next week’s event on the campus of York University.
“I’ve had a lot of success at the Fed Cup, but this is the Rogers Cup, and there are a lot of top players. It’s going to be a good challenge for me.”
Abanda is ranked second among Canadian women — behind only Eugenie Bouchard — and is ranked No. 131 in the world overall.
Abanda will be participating in the Rogers Cup for the fourth time and will face No. 41 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in the opening round.
Bouchard will face a qualifier in her opening-round match while 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, who reached her first WTA quarterfinal this week at the Citi Open in Washington, will face Timea Francoise Abanda of Montreal (right) and Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko pose with the Rogers Cup trophy yesterday. Babos of Hungary. On Thursday, Andreescu upset world No. 13 seed Kristina Mladenovic at the Citi Open.
Andreescu was competing in the quarterfinal on Friday night against Andrea Petkovic of Germany.
Babos, meanwhile, has lost her past nine matches.
“Anybody in the main draw is tough,” Rogers Cup tournament director Karl Hale said.
“Bianca, when she plays Babos, it’s going to be a tough match for her, but she is playing well, so it’s a winnable match.
“I think Eugenie has a great draw to play a qualifier and then if she wins to play (Angelique) Kerber, who she has beaten before. And Francoise is playing Safarova who is on the tailend of her singles career.
“(Abanda) has a good draw as well. She is playing with the top-level players and she can win against any of these players in the draw.
“I think the draw is great, considering it’s such a tough tournament for the Canadians.”
No matter how Andreescu fared in Washington, Hale expected her to arrive in Toronto on a high.
“It’s great for her to be in her first quarterfinal in Washington,” Hale said. “Leading into this tournament, it just builds her confidence. It opened up and she got a wildcard, so it’s just playing perfect into her hands.”
Bouchard, ranked No. 73 in the world, lost her second-round match in singles play at the Citi Open, but was headed to the doubles final.
The top seed at the Rogers Cup is Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, ranked No. 1 in the world. Each of the top eight players have a bye in the first round. Among the women who will be absent for various reasons include Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
Abanda was joined at the tournament draw by fellow 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, who won the French Open earlier this summer.
“A lot of good players born in 1997 are now on the tour and it’s good to see,” Ostapenko said. “We played in junior together and now we’re here. It’s nice to see a new generation come up.”
Abanda mentioned her success the Fed Cup World Group II playoffs, where she won both of her singles matches against Kazakhstan in Montreal in April, helping Canada win 3-2.
“It’s going to be a different vibe playing the Rogers Cup with a lot of media and a lot
Jelena Ostapenko’s reality has changed in the past couple of months.
It’s the kind of thing that comes with the territory, Ostapenko has realized, after she won the French Open in June.
“It gave me confidence to play better, but still it is difficult because you have more pressure now and people expect more from me,” Ostapenko said on Friday at the draw for the Rogers Cup. “So I really need to focus.”
Ostapenko turned 20 while winning her first Grand Slam title and became the first native of Latvia, female or male, to win a Grand Slam. She also became the first unseeded player to win the French Open since 1933.
Ostapenko, ranked No. 12 in the world, will open the Rogers Cup against a qualifier to be determined. It will mark her first appearance at the tournament in Toronto.
“It’s a different surface (hard court as opposed to grass or clay), so it’s good to have the preparation of a couple of days to get used to all the conditions,” Ostapenko said. “I’m feeling good and I’m looking forward to my first match.” of stuff to do off the court,” Abanda said. “But it’s great to have the crowd with us and it’s a great atmosphere. Hopefully, I can feed off the crowd.”