As we turn the page on what has been a meteoric 2019 season for Canadian tennis, it’s undeniably exciting to let your mind wander and dream about what might be in 2020.
With a contingent of rapidly-rising stars, as well as some well-established veterans, it’s easy to envisage another 12 months of success.
Here, we make some bold predictions ahead of the New Year. Confident, not cocky, is how we’d like to characterize them.
The WTA Finals will be back in Shenzhen in 2020 and we think Bianca Andreescu will be too. The reigning US Open and Rogers Cup presented by National Bank champion was forced to pullout of this year’s edition due to injury but we’re confident she has what it takes to qualify again next year.
After reaching a career-high ranking of World No. 4 in October, Andreescu finished the year at No. 5. Entering the new season, the 19-year-old will be hoping to build on a breakout 2019 by establishing herself as one of the globe’s elite players on tour – qualifying for the year-end Finals in the process.
Alongside partner Xu Yifan, Gabriela Dabrowski came within a whisker of claiming the Wimbledon doubles title in 2019. Entering the competition seeded fourth, the duo came up just short against Barbora Strycova and Hsiegh Su-wei (No. 3) in the final on the grass courts of the All-England Lawn Tennis Club.
Having finished the season ranked inside the Top 10 in doubles – Dabrowski is currently No. 8 – the 27-year-old will be confident she can go one better and add to her Grand Slam haul in 2020 having claimed mixed doubles titles at the Australian Open (2018) and French Open (2017).
2019 was a year Leylah Annie Fernandez won’t forget win a hurry. The 17-year-old was included in Heidi El Tabakh’s Fed Cup team for the first time to face reigning champions Czech Republic in April. Playing in singles, the youngster put on an impressive display despite losing to Czech No. 1 Marketa Vondrousova.
Next up, Fernandez became the first Canadian to claim the Junior French Open title at Roland-Garros, defeating the United States’ Emma Navarro in the final. A first professional singles title followed as the Quebecer claimed the Gatineau National Bank Challenger by beating fellow Canadian Carson Branstine. Her efforts were rewarded with a wild card to the main draw at Rogers Cup.
So, there’s plenty to build on for Fernandez who – currently sitting at No. 211 in the world – we think could be in line for an Andreescu-like surge up the rankings in 2020.
Despite an injury-plagued season, Milos Raonic still reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and semi-finals of Indian Wells in 2019. However, there’s no doubting it was a frustrating year for the now-veteran of the ATP Tour.
The former World No. 3’s quality is undoubted, his serve remains a deadly weapon and at just 28-years-old, he has plenty of time to bounce back. We think the 2016 Wimbledon finalist will do just that in 2020, and we can’t wait to see him back on the court.
Likewise, it’s been an up and down season for former World No. 5 Eugenie Bouchard. The 25-year-old endured a difficult run of form but finished strongly, reaching the round of 16 at an Oracle Challenger Series in Houston in November. And, we’re predicting a continued upturn in fortunes for her in 2020.
In amongst an impressive breakout year in which Félix Auger-Aliassime catapulted up the rankings from No. 106 to a career-high No. 17 before settling as the year-end No. 21, the youngster also reached three ATP finals in 2019.
Auger-Aliassime came up just short in Rio, Lyon and Stuttgart, losing out to Laslo Djere, Benoit Paire and Matteo Berrettini respectively. However, we’re backing him to go one better in 2020 and replicate the success of his friend and compatriot, Denis Shapovalov – who himself broke his ATP-title duck by claiming the crown at the Stockholm Open.
Speaking of Shapovalov, the 20-year-old Canadian’s fall-season surge saw him race up the ATP rankings to a career-high No. 15. Heading into 2020, with that title win in Stockholm and a string of stellar performances at the Davis Cup Finals under his belt, the next natural step feels like a deep run at a Grand Slam.
A semi-final appearance at the Miami Open and a run to his first Masters 1000 final in Paris shows that he’s capable of performing to an elite level on the biggest of stages. Whether it will be in Melbourne, Paris, Wimbledon or New York is up for debate – but we’re predicting Shapo will reach the last eight in at least one of the Grand Slams.
It was a sight to behold. Confetti flying, crowds cheering and a Canadian holding the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank trophy aloft. In fact, Bianca’s victory in Toronto was so good, we’re predicting it’ll happen again in 2020.
However, this is no pipe dream. The form of our Canadian players heading into the new season is at an all-time high. Who’s to say Bianca won’t defend her title – this time in Montreal? Or Denis, Félix or Milos won’t prevail in Toronto? Not forgetting Gaby and Vasek, who could well go all the way in doubles.
All we’re saying is, don’t rule it out…
Who doesn’t love sitting down in front of the TV for hours on end, marveling as a plethora of talented athletes battle it out for medals in the likes of track and field, weightlifting, wrestling and gymnastics? Well, in 2020, we think there could be a Canadian on the podium in tennis.
As we mentioned in our Rogers Cup prediction, anyone would be foolish to write off our players based on their current trajectories. Not to mention, with the prospect of the likes of Denis or Vasek teaming up with Gaby – mixed doubles in particular could be an event to keep an eye on.
(Feature photo: Martin Sidorjak)