leylah fernandez us open chest bump

Photo: camerawork usa

2021 was an amazing year for Canadian tennis players as four Canucks ranked inside the Top 50 reached new heights in their respective rankings.

In October, Gabriela Dabrowski, who finished her previous three seasons as a Top 10 doubles player in the world, cracked the Top 5 for the first time in her career. The Ottawa native clinched the milestone after a remarkable summer with her Brazilian partner, Luisa Stefani.

The duo’s hot streak started with a final appearance at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, California. After the event, they strung together nine consecutive wins in Montreal and Cincinnati, which included a title at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers and a second-place finish at the Western & Southern Open.

Dabrowski and Stefani played the US Open together and reached the semi-finals. Unfortunately, they were forced to retire from their semi-final match due to a knee injury sustained by Stefani.

While Dabrowski climbed up to No. 5, Félix Auger-Aliassime joined the Top 10 club in November after his 38-win season. His 2021 win total was the 10th most on the ATP singles tour. Of his 38 victories, 12 came at Grand Slam events, notably against Roberto Bautista Agut, Alexander Zverev, and compatriot Denis Shapovalov. Auger-Aliassime finished strong at the year’s final Grand Slam event, advancing to the semi-finals at the US Open.  

Although his time inside the Top 10 was short-lived, the 21-year-old ended his year on a high note and will look to keep his terrific play going in 2022.

Sharon Fichman, who is sitting at No. 22 in the doubles rankings, is coming off of the most successful year of her career. Her 2021 season highlights include: Qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, and winning her biggest title at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, alongside partner Giuliana Olmos. Fichman and Olmos’ impressive campaigns earned them a spot at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The fourth Canadian to earn a career-high spot inside the Top 50 in 2021 was Leylah Annie Fernandez. The 19-year-old captured her first-ever WTA title at the Monterrey Open in March as the youngest player in the main draw (18 at the time). She then embarked on this Cinderella story in September, defeating three Top 5 players en route to the US Open finals.

Fernandez became the third woman in the Open Era to defeat three Top 5 seeds at Flushing Meadows. Her storybook journey bumped her up 45 spots in the rankings to No. 28. She finished the season as the top-ranked Canadian woman in singles at No. 24.