Photo: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

2020 was a year like no other.

It started off strong, with our players flying out of the gates. A handful of our top Canadians put on impressive performance, going on deep runs and reaching career milestones.

But as the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells came around, the world suddenly found itself at a standstill. Though life was put on pause for several months due to the pandemic, the tours and tournaments ultimately found a way to bring tennis back in a safe environment for the players and fans.

Despite the few months of inactivity, our players didn’t hesitate to pick up where they left off.

It may have been a shortened season, but there are still a great number of highlights to look back on.

Let’s take a look at the top moments from 2020:

10 – TSN increases broadcasting of WTA events in Canada

Early in the year, tennis fans across Canada were delighted to receive news of increased broadcasting of WTA events, meaning they could now follow their favourite players throughout the year. In fact, TSN added nine tournaments to their broadcast calendar, increasing their already extensive coverage of major tournaments.

And while many tournaments did not take place this year due to the pandemic, we are looking forward to this increased broadcast coverage for 2021 and beyond!

9 – Alexis Galarneau captures first pro singles title

A current member of the NC State Wolfpack on the American college tennis circuit, Alexis Galarneau reached an important milestone in his pro career, taking home his first professional singles title at the ITF event in Arkansas. The 21 year old took home his maiden doubles title back in 2018 at the Futures event in Calgary, playing alongside compatriot Benjamin Sigouin.

8 – Sharon Fichman continues successful return to pro tennis with second doubles title

After announcing her return to tennis back in 2018, Sharon Fichman took home the first title of her comeback in the summer of 2019. She followed that up with a number of strong performances this year, including being crowned doubles champion in Monterrey and reaching the doubles final a week prior in Acapulco. These results allowed her to climb close to 30 spots in the doubles ranking, finishing the year at No. 56.

7 – Third Top 10 doubles finish for Gaby Dabrowski

Gaby Dabrowski has become a mainstay in the world of elite doubles and has become a great spokesperson for her craft. She continues to go on deep runs in top tournaments, notches wins over some of the best doubles players in the world and keeps her ranking firmly planted in the Top 10. This year was no exception, as she reached three WTA doubles finals, in Adelaide, Doha and Ostrava, as well as the quarter-finals at both the Australian Open and US Open.

6 – Vasek Pospisil caps off winning comeback season with second final of the year

After an impressive end to his 2019 comeback season, Vasek Pospisil brought that energy into 2020, notably reaching two ATP finals. The first came in February in Montpellier, when he stunned compatriot Denis Shapovalov in the second round as well as no. 10 David Goffin in the semis. This was the Canadian’s first final on tour since 2014.

And he followed it up with a number of stellar performances, perhaps none better than his run to the final in Sofia, a perfect way to cap-off an impressive season.

5 – Genie Bouchard comes through qualifying and surges to the final in Istanbul

Photo: ©TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship Istanbul

Winning both of her qualifying matches, Genie Bouchard caused a number of upsets playing at the Istanbul Open this past September. In her impressive run to the final, she notably ousted the No. 1 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in a tightly disputed 3-set match. In the final, which was the Canadian’s first appearences in a tour-level championship match since 2016, Bouchard managed to save six match points, but ultimately fell just short of the title. This performance helped her ranking jump just under 100 spots and allowed her to finish with a year-end ranking of No. 141.

4 – A first Top 10 berth for Denis Shapovalov as he entertains in blockbuster matches

A major milestone in any player’s career, Denis Shapovalov broke into the Top 10 for the first time in 2020 after a number of blockbuster matches at the US Open and in Rome. In New York, he posted some sensational victories over the likes of Taylor Fritz and David Goffin and certainly dialed up the excitement in his quarter-final match against Pablo Carreno Busta, which went to a thrilling five sets, three of which went to a tiebreak.

3 – Leylah Fernandez stuns World No. 5 Bencic at Billie Jean King Cup tie in Switzerland

Young and relatively unknown on the international tennis scene, Leylah Annie Fernandez certainly made a splash during Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup tie against Switzerland this past February. Representing her country for only the second time, the 18-year-old showed no signs of nerves when she caused the upset over the No. 5 player in the world, Belinda Bencic, in straight sets. And while Canada was not victorious in the tie, the highlight of the weekend belonged to the rising star Fernandez.

2 – Milos Raonic reaches the final in Cincinnati, taking No. 1 Djokovic to three sets

Nominated for the ATP Comeback Player of the Year award, Milos Raonic gave us a lot to cheer about in 2020, including his run to the final in Cincinnati. Although he fell just short of the title, he put up a great fight against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, even taking the first set from a player who had been so dominant all season long. On his path to the final, the Canadian ousted the likes of Sam Querrey, Daniel Evans and Stefanos Tsitsipas. His 2020 season has got us excited and ready to continue to #believeinthesleeve.

1 – Félix Auger-Aliassime captures first major doubles title at the Paris Masters

It is rare to find a player who excels both in singles and doubles, and yet Canada counts a number of them among their top athletes. Denis Shapovalov, Vasek Pospisil and Genie Bouchard, among many others, have proven in the past that they can gain success in both domains. The latest player to add his name to this list if Félix Auger-Aliassime, who made a point of competing in a number of doubles matches throughout the year. And his efforts clearly paid off. To cap-off another fruitful season, which saw him reach another three ATP finals in singles, the 21-year-old captured the biggest title of his career, taking home the doubles crown at the Paris Masters. Playing alongside Hubert Hurkacz, the pair had a tremendous week, battling through one of the toughest draws to take the ultimate prize.

There were a great number of moments that marked the 2020 season, but it was hard to fit them all in one list. In honour of all the stellar performances we saw this year, here are a few honourable mentions:

  • Milos Raonic goes on a deep run at the Paris Masters, reaching the semi-finals. His strong performances in 2020 saw his ranking rise from No. 32 to end the year at No. 14.
  • After playing some blockbuster matches in New York, Denis Shapovalov continued his momentum into Rome, where he reached the semi-finals
  • Leylah Fernandez reaches the final of the WTA International event in Acapulco, having to go through qualifying just to reach the main draw.
  • The ITF rename the Men’s 85 World Team Cup Championships after a Canadian legend and longstanding tennis player, Lorne Main.

And while it is nice to look back on some good memories, we are very much looking forward to what the 2021 tennis season has in store!

Read our Canadian tennis wishlist for 2021.