The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Brisebois: The champion with a foot of clay

June 14, 2022
Rafael Nadal holding Roland Garros trophy

Photo: Martin Sidorjak

What’s next for Rafael Nadal?

What he’s just achieved at Roland-Garros is without equal. 

Fourteen Grand Slam titles on clay. As many as Pete Sampras earned on all surfaces in his entire career.

Twenty-two majors. As many as Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg combined or, if you prefer, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Boris Becker combined. Among his contemporaries, he’s ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who each have 20.

Does that make Rafa the GOAT? 

The more pressing question right now is actually health-related following the revelations about his anesthetic injections to numb the pain in his left foot. “We have to find a solution,” said the clay-footed champion. Before setting his sights on Wimbledon, he’ll have a sit-down with his physician. 

Despite all the rumours that swirled around the City of Light, I’d forget about retirement. We’ve read, seen and heard the reactions: he’ll be back. Experts are even counting on him to regain the No.1 spot at the age of 36.

It’s well known that Rafa has a sky-high pain threshold. If his team gave the go-ahead for the injections, it’s because they aren’t a risk to his health. Still, the most powerful weapon in his arsenal is his attitude. He himself said he remains positive even when things aren’t going his way. He’s ready to fight, even without knowing what’s around the corner. 

So, keep your tickets to the National Bank Open.

IGA SẂIĄTEK DAZZLES

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Like her idol Rafael Nadal, two-time French Open champion Iga Swiatek has been putting up some impressive numbers. 

You have to rewind all the way back to the week of February 14 in Dubai to get a good idea of how dominant she’s been. Her six consecutive titles and 35 consecutive wins tie her with Venus Williams’ record from 2000.   

On serve and from the backcourt, whether you look at her speed or her strategy, every aspect of her game is excellent on every surface. Just ask Coco Gauff, who was shown the exit from the Slam final after just 68 minutes of play. 

Also brilliant is Iga’s way of handling the situation: “I’m learning to deal with the pressure and expectations, and I think I’m doing a good job,” she said in Paris last week. There were no expectations back in 2020, when she was an obscure No.54. This year, as the World No.1, the 21-year-old had to work hard.

THE TALK THAT COULD HAVE HELPED LEYLAH GET TO WIMBLEDON 

Photo: Martin Sidorjak

There will be no Wimbledon for Leylah Fernandez after the quarterfinal appearance in Paris that boosted her to World No.15. 

She has a grade-three stress fracture on the top of her right foot, and her father and coach isn’t too happy about it. 

“That’s one of the problems with the WTA is you don’t get a chance to consult our players. We don’t get a chance to call a simple 30-second time-out and see what’s really going on. And I know they tried in the past, and I just wonder why it stopped,” Jorge Fernandez told TSN. 

Leylah’s expected to be back at the Citi Open in Washington in mid-July, ahead of the National Bank Open in Toronto. 

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED HEARTS FÉLIX 

Photo: Martin Sidorjak

You can add World No.9 Félix Auger-Aliassime to Sports Illustrated’slist of favourite athletes.

“Auger-Aliassime is a press room/TV favourite. Composed, accessible, polite, punctual and professional…This is a future major winner. And the sport will be better for it,” wrote SI journalist Jon Wertheim. 

HEARD AROUND THE COURTS

Photo: Tennis Canada

Rafa wasted no time after his record-breaking win and flew straight to Barcelona to get radiofrequency treatment on his left foot. 

Alexander Zverev had ankle surgery. He’ll be hobbling around on crutches when he becomes the new World No.2 on Monday.  

The numbers are in, and 42 million people tuned in to the 2022 French Open on France Télévisions—the highest ratings since 2012. 

A total of 4.6 million people watched Nadal vs. Ruud, and 2.1 million followed Swiatek vs. Gauff. 

Despite Leylah Fernandez’s absence, Québec tennis will be well represented in Wimbledon’s main draw. The WTA confirmed Eugenie Bouchard’s entry via protected ranking. The Montrealer currently sits at No.118.

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