By Max Gao
Sunday marked the second and final day of qualifying action at the 2021 National Bank Open presented by Rogers, as the remaining 12 players battled it out on another humid and cloudy day for a coveted spot in the main draw. While No. 2 seed Tommy Paul, No. 3 seed Yoshihito Nishioka and Canadian wild card Brayden Schnur were all able to secure berths in the 48-player draw, No. 1 seed Frances Tiafoe did not meet the same fate.
Tiafoe Falls to Ruusuvuori; Paul, Nishioka Advance
No. 7 seed Emil Ruusuvuori knocked out top seed Frances Tiafoe, 6-1, 6-4, in the biggest upset of the day on Court 1. The Finnish No. 1, who recently made a run to the semifinals of the Atlanta Open, looked dominant throughout, saving a couple of break points early in the match and breaking twice en route to securing the opening set in half an hour. Ruusuvuori bided his time early in the second, playing the big points better than his American counterpart before breaking and serving out the match in an hour and 18 minutes. He will now look to build on two solid victories this weekend with a tough match against Dusan Lajovic in the first round of the main draw, with the winner of that clash set to meet No. 9 seed Félix Auger-Aliassime.
Over on Court 4, No. 2 seed Tommy Paul followed up his victory over Canadian Liam Draxl yesterday with another hard-fought, straight-sets victory today — this time over Great Britain’s Liam Broady, 7-6(3), 6-3, in an hour and 34 minutes. Paul was unable to serve out the tight opening set at 6-5, but he was able to come back from a mini-break down in the tiebreak to clinch the opener in just under an hour. The 24-year-old American continued this momentum going into the second, winning all 12 of his first-serve points and securing a break midway through the set that would ultimately prove decisive. Having reached the second round of this event in 2019, Paul is now just one win over Canada’s Vasek Pospisil away from equalling his best-ever finish at this event.
In the final qualifying match on Court 1, No. 3 seed Yoshihito Nishioka edged out No. 11 seed and Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, 7-5, 7-6(6). There was little to separate the two left-handers in the opening set, but it was Nishioka who was able to save a total of five break points and clinch a decisive break in the 12th game to move within one set of the main draw. The pair would trade breaks midway through the second set, which would have to be decided in a tiebreak. Nishioka, facing a set point at 5-6 in the breaker, was able to reel off three points in a row to complete the match in straight sets. He will now meet young American Sebastian Korda in the main draw, with the winner set to meet No. 5 seed Denis Shapovalov in round two.
Schnur Returns to Main Draw; Polansky Falls in Three
The two Canadians in action today also met different fates on the Grandstand Court. Toronto’s Peter Polansky saw his campaign for a main-draw berth come to a close at the hands of No. 9 seed James Duckworth, while Pickering’s Brayden Schnur was able to overcome a stern challenge in Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galán in straight sets to advance to his fourth main draw at his home tournament.
In a remarkable opening-set tiebreak, Schnur came from 2-6 down and saved a total of five set points before winning it 9-7 as the clock hit the one-hour mark. After falling down an early break in the second, the 26-year-old Canadian was able to respond right away, reeling off five of the next six games to clinch an impressive 7-6(7), 6-3 victory in an hour and 39 minutes. Schnur will now come face-to-face with South Africa’s Lloyd Harris in an intriguing first-round clash, with the winner set to meet No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal. Duckworth, who came from a set down to defeat Polansky, will meet Taylor Fritz, with the winner set to meet No. 16 seed Jannik Sinner in round two.
Elsewhere on Day 2, No. 10 seed Ricardas Berankis defeated Colombia’s Emilio Gomez, 6-4, 7-5, in an hour and 33 minutes to qualify for his first National Bank Open presented by Rogers after falling in the qualifying rounds on three previous occasions. The Lithuanian veteran will now face Australia’s John Millman, with the winner set to meet No. 11 seed Gael Monfils in the second round.