National Bank Open: Simona Halep crowned champion in Toronto

TORONTO - The triumph of Romanian Simona Halep in Toronto, her third conquest on Canadian soil, is one under the sign of perseverance, even of a certain rebirth.

“Just a few months ago, I never thought I could lift this trophy,” Halep revealed on Sunday after her victory in the final against Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia. I thank Patrick for believing in me and being on my side. I hope that we will now have several other titles together.

After winning in three sets of 6-3, 2-6 and 6-3, for a show lasting more than two hours at Sobeys Stadium, “Simona” reserved a long embrace for French coach Patrick Mouratoglou. The two have officially teamed up since April.

“When I started working with her, I know that she had the perception of having been criticized a lot, confided Mouratoglou, during a generous interview with the QMI Agency, following the victory of his protege. She had a very harsh judgment about herself, and it was probably influenced by the things she heard around."

“What I look at personally are the qualities of people, continued the French coach. It's not with faults that you win big tournaments, but with qualities. When you highlight the quality of people, they flourish and become stronger.”

By virtue of this conquest in Toronto, Halep, 30, should move from 15th position to sixth in the world. As a finalist, Beatriz Haddad Maia, nicknamed "Bia", will approach the top 15, she who was 24th in the world before the start of the tournament.

"It's not the trophy I wanted, but I still dedicate it to my dad and my grandpa, because it's Father's Day in Brazil," noted Haddad Maia.

"No celebration," Halep said with determination. I have to go practice in Cincinnati, that's how I'm going to celebrate."

Electric atmosphere

All in all, after her victories in Montreal in 2016 and 2018, Halep was happy to be able to offer this new crown in Canada to her many supporters of Romanian origin in the greater Toronto area.

"It's a special day," she said. I fought very hard to be able to win in front of all these people with Romanian flags.”

In the stands, the Mucea family, who reside in Toronto, notably displayed blue, yellow and red. The young Anna, 19, had even convinced her friend Ryan Smith, from Ottawa, to wear the Romanian colors.

"Not only is she a very good tennis player, but she is also an inspiring and positive person," said Anna, praising the mental strength of the athlete.

"Romanian fans are very important to our event," Toronto tournament director Karl Hale said. They manage to create an electric atmosphere.

An edition marked by the retirement of Serena

Beyond Simona Halep's victory in Toronto, the 2022 edition of the National Bank Open women's tournament will go down in history. It will always be the one during which the great champion Serena Williams announced that she was hanging up her racket.

"I knew his retirement was coming, but I didn't expect such a bombshell on Tuesday," Toronto tournament director Karl Hale said when drawing his balance sheet for the week. It was sad, because it is a player that we would have liked to see continue for eternity. At the same time, Wednesday, we experienced an evening that we will never forget, whether it is the spectators, the players or the staff present.

Despite a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Switzerland's Belinda Bencic in the second round, Williams was logically invited to speak after the game to bid farewell to the Canadian public.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart," she said in particular, wiping away a few tears in the process.

Photo Agence QMI, Dominic Chan

Montreal and Toronto: popular destinations

To crown this evening with Serena, the Canadian Bianca Andreescu had followed on the ground by beating the French Alizé Cornet in three sets.

Photo Agence QMI, Dominic Chan

"It was party time until midnight," Hale summed up.

The tournament director is also satisfied with the good comments received by the WTA players throughout the last week.

"It's not just Serena, but the other players also really like the tournaments in Montreal and Toronto," Hale said.

A new relaxation room in Toronto, which remains a rarity on the circuit, would be particularly popular with athletes, we learned.

- The doubles event of the Toronto tournament was won by Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff. They prevailed by the score of 6-4, 6-7 (5) and 10-5 against Ellen Perez and Nicole Melichar-Martinez.