Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Three Canadian players are taking part in the ATP Tour’s return to the courts this week at the Western & Southern Open in New York. Milos Raonic, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov were all victorious in their opening round matches over the weekend.

Raonic was the first one in action on Monday, taking on Daniel Evans of Great Britain. Despite a pause in the season, the 29-year-old did not seem to miss a beat, making sure to showcase his biggest weapon, his serve. Firing 23 aces in the match, Raonic put on a strong performance over his opponent, needing a little more than 90 minutes to secure a 6-3, 7-5 victory. He moves on to the third round where he will face former World No. 1 Andy Murray.

Auger-Aliassime was looking to join his compatriot in the round of 16, but first had to get through a tricky opponent in Tennys Sandgren of the United States. After taking the opening set in a tiebreak, the Canadian lost a bit of momentum in the second, notably struggling on serve. Auger-Aliassime seemed to have found his bearings as he broke the American’s serve early on in the final set. Sandgren, however, had not said his last word and leveled the score to force another decisive tiebreak. The young Canadian came close to moving on to the next round, but ultimately fell 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (5).

For his part, Shapovalov was taking on Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany. The two players had previously met on four occasions, with the German leading their head to head with three victories. Despite dropping the opening set, Shapovalov gained momentum in the second and improved his service games to level out the score. The decisive set was tightly disputed until the very end when the Canadian was broken late, falling at the hands of Struff by a score of 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4.

On the women’s side, Leylah Annie Fernandez managed to win her two qualifying matches to reach the main draw, but fell in the opening round to Ons Jabeur 0-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The Western & Southern Open is the first ATP tour event to be held since March. It is being played at the site of the US Open in Flushing Meadows, where there are no fans in attendance. Originally, the tournament was scheduled to take place in Cincinnati, but was relocated due to the ongoing pandemic.