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RIVARD: PLISKOVA VS. GIORGI

Aug 15, 2021
written by: Paul Rivard
written by: Paul Rivard

The 2021 National Bank Open was an Italian fairy tale. But instead of the magical creatures, carriage rides and fair prince, there was a trophy.

On Sunday, Camila Giorgi of Italy disposed of Karolina Pliskova of Czechia (6-4, 7-5), surpassing her opponent on the two aspects of her game in which she excels: aces and baseline rallies.

At 3-3, Giorgi secured her first break point, causing her rival to slam her racquet on the court out of frustration. Two games and a break later, the unlikely champion concluded the first set.

After an impeccable semifinal match, Pliskova couldn’t find her accuracy or her assurance. At 5-6, she gave away a fourth break and handed her rival the title.

“I’m just very happy. It’s just incredible. I think I was playing amazing tennis in these past months,” said Giorgi, who is 14-4 in the last eight weeks.

So, what makes her story a fairy tale?

– She’s subdued Karolina Pliskova three consecutive times in less than two months.

– She’s the lowest ranked player to compete in the Canadian final since Serena Williams in 2011.

– She’s only the second Italian player in history to win a WTA 1000 event.

– She will rise 37 positions in the rankings to No.34.

Giorgi didn’t have a fairy godmother to thank but paid tribute to her father, Sergio, who’s been her coach ever since she was five years old but couldn’t make the trip to Montréal.

“I dedicate this title to him because he’s dedicated many hours to me since I was five,” said Giorgi. “I’ve been working all my life with my father. He’s always been with me, all the time. We work hours and hours on the court.  And the work we’ve done, you can see, this week, that it works. We are an amazing team.”

Dabrowski trIUMPHS AT HOME

For the first time in over 50 years, a Canadian was crowned in the doubles event of her home tournament. It was none other than Gabriela Dabrowski.

Photo: Pascal Ratthé / Tennis Canada

Currently ranked No.15 in doubles, she paired up with No.22 Luisa Stefani of Brazil. As the fifth seeds, they defeated sixth seeds Darija Jurak (No.18) of Croatia and Andreja Klepac (No.26) of Slovenia in the finals, 6-3, 6-4.

Dabrowski and Stefani exacted their revenge for the loss they suffered just last week against Jurak and Klepac in the finals in San Jose.

The 29-year-old Ontarian didn’t hide the pride she felt playing at home.

“It was lovely, so nice to play in front of Canadian fans. It’s as close as a home tournament I will ever get since there are no tournaments in Ottawa. I really enjoyed my time out there, especially last night and tonight when we played on Centre Court,” she said.

Adding to the joy was the fact that her parents were in the stands: My parents were there, yes. After the match, they went to the court and met Luisa for the first time. So, we had a nice moment. And I gave them a bunch of my Olympic gear between hugs!”

Dabrowski secured her first doubles crown since 2019.

As for her new union with Stefani, the champion confirmed that they will team up at the upcoming hard court events in Cincinnati, Flushing Meadows and Indian Wells.

Montréal : POSITIVE OVERALL

In the very particular context of this year’s National Bank Open, the tournament went off without a hitch, without the virus and with fans in the stands and some excellent tennis to boot.

And maybe even a little more money in the bank than expected.

Photo: Pascal Ratthé / Tennis Canada

Two and half hours before the singles final, tournament director Eugène Lapierre was relieved and satisfied. He confirmed that his team managed to pull off a complicated feat under the circumstances.

“Yes, indeed, we really wanted to hold this tournament with or without the crowd. We just wanted to hold the tournament, so we are happy because we succeeded in doing that.” said Lapierre. “It was not easy to do it with the team. It was complicated. We knew we couldn’t have the usual crowd, but we wanted to have about 50,000 spectators at the end of the week from the quallies until now. I think we achieved that and we are satisfied. Financially we’ll reach a balance, I believe, for the whole week.”

In total, there were only two positive cases—quite an achievement in itself.

“Now, it is Sunday and we only had one case: a young lady from Japan who came to play in the quallies and was positive when she arrived. I believe she’s still in quarantine in her hotel. That’s the only case we had. Here, on site, we had one case with a waiter, but it was easy to track. Everything is under control.”

When asked about the financial side of things, Lapierre admitted that the accounts may be tinged with red: “We will try to be positive, slightly. Of course, in past years we gave $16 to $17 million to tennis development in Canada. We are far from that this year. Of course, last year we lost $10 million. This year, we should be able to give some money. I hope it will be more in the black than the red because we had help from the government.”

In closing, it was important for the tournament director to revisit the performances by the Canadian players. He placed a lot of emphasis on what he believes is the highlight of the tournament.  

“Everyone was expecting Bianca, Leylah… Rebecca ended up with the best performance,” he said. “I’m happy for her because she worked hard. I was happy to hear her say after her match that she proved to herself she was among the top players in the world and could compete with them. That was very good to hear.”