FILL­ING THE CUP Open win a ma­jor boost

Cana­di­ans ex­cited as draw set for tour­na­ment

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - TERRY KOSHAN — Terry Koshan tkoshan@post­media.com @koshtoron­to­sun

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.”

JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

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