TORONTO — It’s Day 3 of the National Bank Open, and Toronto gets to host the Undisputed Greatest Of All Time in what will be one of her final competitive tennis matches. Sports fans, it’s unbelievable and incredible on every level.
Let’s take a look at that must-see match featuring the incomparable Serena Williams, as well as some other big ones on tap today for both the women in Toronto and the men in Montreal. Spoiler alert: The lineup in Toronto is top shelf, with not only Williams, but both Leylah Fernandez and Bianca Andreescu set to play.
Serena Williams (United States) vs. Belinda Bencic (Switzerland), not before 7 p.m.
Note: All times listed are Eastern.
This could be the last time the 23-time Grand Slam champion plays in Canada, and one of the last times, ever. Just try to let that sink in. Williams announced on Tuesday that she’s stepping away from tennis to focus on growing her family, which includes her five-year-old daughter, Olympia, and her husband, Alexis Ohanian.
Williams hinted that the US Open, which starts later this month, could be her swan song. The three-time National Bank Open champion (she owns 73 WTA titles in all) turns 41 at the end of September.
The Greatest of All Time had a boisterous crowd cheering her on in her opener in Toronto — it marked her first win in a year. The crowds for Williams are always huge, and Sobeys Stadium is sold out and guaranteed to be extra-loud for her Wednesday tilt against Bencic, now that Williams has announced her impending retirement.
And what a treat it is to have at least one more match in Canada featuring the woman who’s done more for tennis in the modern era than anyone.
Felix-Auger Aliassime (Canada) vs. Yoshito Nishioka (Japan), not before 6:30 p.m. ET.
In Montreal, the top-ranked Canadian in the draw — the sixth seed and hometown kid — opens his tournament against Nishioka, the world No. 54. The 21-year-old Aliassime won his first ATP title earlier this year, and it was huge: He’d lost in eight previous finals before that.
The monkey is off Alliassime’s back and he’s ranked a career-high No. 9 in the world. Expectations are high at home in Montreal, and even more so after fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov’s first-round exit on Tuesday afternoon.
Leylah Fernandez (Canada) vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia (Brazil), second up in the afternoon draw that opens not before 1 p.m.
The 19-year-old Fernandez didn’t have her best stuff in her opener here, and for good reason: She’d been on the shelf the last two months, rehabbing from a fractured foot. But Fernandez battled to a three-set victory over an Australian qualifier to land her in the second round of this home tournament for the first time in her career.
The 13th seed and runner up at the US Open last year will play a fellow southpaw in Haddad Maia — the world No. 24 — on centre court. Haddad Maia owns two WTA titles.
Bianca Andreescu (Canada) vs. Alize Cornet (France), after Williams’ match
Andreescu, who won this thing back in 2019, opened her 2022 campaign with a tight two-set victory on Tuesday night, had a couple medical timeouts in the process, and then apologized to the crowd for what she termed her “bad attitude.” She felt dizzy at times during the match.
Still, Andreescu won and she was feeling much better afterwards. She’ll close out an absolutely incredible day of tennis in Toronto that’ll see centre court occupied by Fernandez and then Williams and finally Andreescu.
Andreescu is up against Cornet, the world No. 40, who has beaten her (“got my ass whooped,” as Andreescu put it on Tuesday night) in their two meetings so far.
Daniil Medvedev (Russia) vs. Nick Kyrgios (Australia), not before 1 p.m. ET.
Medvedev, the world No. 1, opens his run in Montreal on Wednesday, where he’ll be looking for his second ATP title of the season and 15th in all. But the reigning US Open champion is in tough against Kyrgios, the big-serving Aussie who is playing some of the most consistent tennis of his career this season. Kyrgios made the Wimbledon final and won one title earlier this year. He opened the year ranked 93rd in the world and he’s now up to No. 37.