Canada: Pegula and Sinner fire signal of intent

From Montreal to Toronto champions were crowned over an absorbing weekend.

Jannik Sinner / Vainqueur Toronto 2023©Arlyn McAdorey / Zuma / Panoramic
 - Alex Sharp

Two elite talents, two supremely consistent players, who have been slightly overshadowed in recent seasons. 

Jannik Sinner and Jessica Pegula tasted Canadian silverware success at the weekend to propel themselves into the contender conversation for the upcoming US Open.

Third time lucky for The Fox

For a few years the tennis world has been waiting for Sinner to snatch away significant titles.

The 21-year-old, a Roland-Garros quarter-finalist back in 2020, has already accomplished so much in the sport, but managed his finest week yet in Toronto.

Sinner erased heartache from Miami 2021 and 2023 final defeats to overpower Alex de Minaur 6-4, 6-1 for a maiden Masters 1000 triumph.

"It means a lot. It is a great result," said the Italian. "One I can share with all the people who are close to me every day. It is a nice moment to share with them and we are doing the right things.

"This result makes us feel good, stronger and hungry to work even harder in the future. It’s a great moment in my career."

Sinner set the tone for a statement week by dismissing countryman Matteo Berrettini in straight sets and then halted a revitalised Gael Monfils in three sets. The world No.6 stormed towards his milestone moment 6-4, 6-4 over Tommy Paul, before his victory over de Minaur.

"I am proud how I handled the situation. Every opponent here is tough to play against," stated Sinner, assessing his sharp development.

"When you get used to playing such important encounters, you are calmer before and during the match. Today, I did everything better than in my first two finals in Masters 1000.

"I felt the pressure, but I think I handled it very well. Trying to play point after point. Treating everyone with respect on the court, so I am happy with how I handled the situation."

Last September, Sinner fell in a modern-day classic US Open quarter-final to Carlos Alcaraz in the early hours in New York. The ambitious 21-year-old is certainly not resting on his Toronto success.

"My confidence is boosted before the US Open," added the Italian. "With this title, my expectations are bound to be higher. But I think I still have room to improve things in my game and to better understand certain situations."

Pegula pounces to add to collection

World No.3 Pegula compiled a similarly impressive week on Canadian soil.

Over in Montreal the 29-year-old clinched a second WTA 1000 title with an emphatic 6-1, 6-0 passage past world No.12 Liudmila Samsonova.

How about this for a trio of displays. Pegula edged doubles partner Coco Gauff 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 in the last eight, prior to an enthralling 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-4 scoreline facing world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Then came the final, which Pegula rattled through in the 49 minutes off the back of 16 winners.

"Beating Coco and beating Iga were two really tough wins back-to-back," mused the top-ranked American. "Being able to do that and then just come out today and play a really clean match was kind of great. I felt like I didn't have a ton of pressure at any point or I wasn't worried too much today."

Last season Pegula tasted WTA 1000 glory in Guadalajara, Mexico, and her Montreal milestone ensured she's just the third American to win multiple titles at this level, joining the iconic Serena and Venus Williams.

It’s the perfect boost ahead of her home Grand Slam in New York in a fortnight.

"We're out on tour to win tournaments and to win titles every single week, but tennis can be really tough where you sometimes lose a lot," suggested Pegula.

"Even when you're winning a lot of matches, you're still not winning tournaments, so it can get tough.

"Winning a week like this week makes it all worth it and makes you want to keep going for more. I'll be right back at it tomorrow (Monday) in Cincinnati."

Over to Ohio

There's certainly no rest for the world's very best.

For the second successive week there is ATP Masters/WTA 1000 competition with the combined Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

On the ATP side, Alcaraz will headline the field alongside the returning Novak Djokovic. The 23-time Grand Slam champion hasn't featured on tour since falling in the thrilling Wimbledon final to Alcaraz.

Following his Toronto quarter-final loss to Tommy Paul, world No.1 Alcaraz must reach the Cincinnati final to definitely fend off Djokovic at top spot in the rankings.

On the WTA side, Swiatek will hope to re-stamp her authority. There is an intriguing first round clash with Elina Svitolina, Roland-Garros quarter-finalist after her return to action from maternity leave in April, and Caroline Wozniacki. The former world No.1 is back on tour, having ended a three-year hiatus in Montreal last week.