Photo: Martin Sidorjak

Auger-Aliassime draws Thiem, Raonic tasked with de Minaur in riveting opening round matchups

The draw for the 2024 Australian Open was made on Wednesday evening, and at least five Canadians will be taking part in the main draws of the year’s opening Grand Slam. Leylah Annie Fernandez (Laval, QC), Félix Auger-Aliassime (Montreal, QC), Denis Shapovalov (Richmond Hill, ON) and Milos Raonic (Thornhill, ON) learned their first-round opponents for the singles main draw, while Gabriela Dabrowski (Ottawa, ON) will appear in the doubles draw. With the qualifying round still underway, Rebecca Marino, Katherine Sebov and Gabriel Diallo are each one win away from qualifying for the main draw; however, Sebov and Marino will play each other in their final qualifying match, meaning only one of them will advance to the main draw.

Fernandez enters the tournament ranked No. 36 in the world and will face a qualifier in the opening round. Fernandez will be looking to build off an incredible end to her 2023 season, where she secured a WTA 250 title at the Hong Kong Open in October before helping lead Team Canada presented by Sobeys to its maiden Billie Jean King Cup title in November. Fernandez’s path to a final could include clashes against No. 4 seed Coco Gauff in the third round and Naomi Osaka or Caroline Garcia in the fourth round. This will mark her fifth time playing at the Australian Open, making it to the second-round last year.

Auger-Aliassime, No. 27 on the ATP Tour, will take on 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem in his first-round matchup. His path to the final could include matches against No. 3 seed and 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev in the third round and No. 8 seed Holger Rune in the quarter-final. The 23-year-old enjoyed an uptick in form at the end of the 2023 season, as evidenced by his win at the ATP 500 Swiss Indoors Basel in October. Auger-Aliassime made it to the fourth round in 2021 and 2023 and made it to the quarter-final in 2022.

Shapovalov, ranked No. 116 after missing the latter half of last season due to an injury he sustained at Wimbledon, used his protected ranking to enter directly into the main draw where he will face a qualifier in the opening round. He made his return to the court last week at the ASB Classic in Auckland, losing in the opening round. The 24-year-old made it to the third-round last year, the quarter-final in 2022 and the third round in 2021. His path to the final could include potential showdowns with No. 9 seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round and Rune in the fourth round.

Raonic also used his protected ranking to enter the main draw, as he’s currently ranked No. 317 on the ATP Tour. Raonic will have the tough task of taking on home crowd favourite and No. 10 seed Alex de Minaur in the first round, with potential matchups against No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev in the fourth round and No. 4 seed Jannik Sinner in the quarter-final. He’s made it to the quarter-final four times at the Australian Open in his career and reached the semi-final in 2016. After a long layoff due to injury, Raonic made his return to the ATP Tour last summer, playing in a number of tournaments including Wimbledon, the US Open, the National Bank Open presented by Rogers and at the Davis Cup Finals.

Dabrowski enters the Australian Open ranked No. 7 on the WTA Tour in doubles after an incredible 2023 season. Alongside her new partner Erin Routliffe, the duo won the US Open doubles title, a WTA 500 title at the Zhengzhou Open, and made it to the semi-final of the WTA Finals in Cancun. Dabrowski also played a pivotal role on Team Canada en route to the country’s Billie Jean King Cup title. The doubles draw will be made in the coming days, where Dabrowski and Routliffe will learn their opening round opponents.

After winning their first two matches of the qualifying round, Sebov and Marino will face each other for a spot in the main draw. Marino has appeared in the main draw at the Australian Open six times so far in her career, while Sebov made her debut last year. Meanwhile, Diallo will need to defeat David Goffin to qualify. This would mark the first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the 22-year-old.

The main draw of the Australian Open will begin on Sunday, January 14 (Saturday evening, January 13, in Canada) and will be broadcasted live on TSN and RDS.

Canadian fans can catch the world’s best tennis players in Montreal and Toronto this summer at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers. Click here to buy tickets now.