Fernandez backhand Dubai 2023

Kamran Jebreili/The Associated Press

This week in tennis marks the first WTA 1000 tournament on the 2023 calendar with the Dubai Duty Free Championships taking centre stage.

This year’s draw features nine of the Top 10 players in the world as well as defending champion Jelena Ostapenko. Canadians Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Annie Fernandez are also in the draw as they look to kickstart their season at one of the biggest women’s events in the world. Fernandez won her opening match comfortably on Sunday against Austria’s Julia Grabher and will now face Iga Swiatek in her second career meeting against the World No. 1. The Laval native only took a few games from the Polish star the first time around, so she’ll be determined to put forth a better performance on Tuesday under the lights on Centre Court. Fernandez is also teaming up with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in doubles. The dynamic pair earned a 1-6, 6-3, 11-9 victory over the sixth-seeded team of Anna Danilina and Luisa Stefani in the first round.

As for Andreescu, her draw is equally tough as she’s set to take on this year’s Australian Open finalist and the reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. It will also be the second meeting between the two players as Andreescu searches for her first triumph over the tournament’s ninth seed.

In Case You Missed It: Auger-Aliassime Falls to Rotterdam’s Eventual Champion

Félix Auger-Aliassime was unable to defend his Rotterdam crown last week after falling to an in-form Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals of the ATP 500 event. The Canadian has now lost five matches in a row to the former World No. 1 who went on to win the tournament in impressive fashion thanks to a three-set victory over Jannik Sinner in Sunday’s final.

Auger-Aliassime will look to rebound this week at the ATP 250 event in Doha where he is the second seed behind Andrey Rublev. After receiving an opening round bye, he’ll face Aussie Jason Kubler in round two. The 22-year-old once again finds himself in the same section of the draw as Medvedev who is a potential semifinal opponent if both advance that far.

On the ATP Challenger Tour, Alexis Galarneau returns to action after a brief injury layoff at the $80,000 Georgia’s Rome Tennis Open in Rome, Georgia. Meanwhile, Steven Diez is playing the $160,000 Abierto GNP Seguros Challenger in Monterrey, Mexico.

Under the Radar: A Well-Deserved Award for Marino

Sport BC announced last week that Rebecca Marino will receive the Sport BC Harry Jerome Comeback Award at the 55th Annual Athlete of the Year Awards on March 9 in Vancouver.

The Harry Jerome Comeback Award is presented to an individual who returns to achieve success in sport after suffering a significant or unique setback. It is named in honour of the late, great sprinter Harry Jerome, who persevered through several injuries to earn a bronze medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Marino’s inspiring comeback story has been well-documented, and she continues to be a role model both on and off the court as she climbs the WTA rankings back inside the top 75 with consistently strong results.

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.