Felix Auger-Aliassime pumps his fist during the Madrid final. He is competing next in Rome.

Photo : Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

It has been a tough run for Félix Auger-Aliassime but after a brilliant result in Madrid, there is reason for optimism that the Canadian No. 1 is turning a corner heading into Rome. 

Last week, Auger-Aliassime contested the biggest singles final of his career to date and looked like his old self. Now he needs to carry the confidence forward. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

In Case You Missed It: Auger-Aliassime Finds His Feet in Madrid 

After a long spell of struggles in the big events, Félix Auger-Aliassime was overdue to catch a break and once some luck went his way, he took advantage. 

Having not even reached the round of 16 at a Masters 1000 (or higher) event since March 2023, the Montrealer reached his first 1000-level final last week at the Mutua Madrid Open

He had some help along the way, with both Jakub Mensik in round three and Jiri Lehecka in the semifinals retiring, as well as top seed Jannik Sinner withdrawing ahead of their quarter-final clash. 

But when he did have to play, Auger-Aliassime brought the highest level seen from him in a long time. His run also included his first Top 10 win of the year over Casper Ruud, one of the tour’s best clay-court players. 

In the final, he very nearly got his hands on the trophy as he took the opening set, but he could not put away Andrey Rublev who snuck out the last two. Just by reaching the final, he climbs back into the Top 20 of the ATP rankings and will almost certainly be seeded at both Roland-Garros and Wimbledon. 

Auger-Aliassime was the lone Canadian to reach the second week of Madrid

What to Watch: Canadian Trio Back at It in Rome 

As was the case in Madrid, three Canadians will be competing in singles at the 1000-level Internazionali BNL D’Italia, which gets underway on Tuesday.  

Because his Madrid run saw his ranking jump, Félix Auger-Aliassime will be seeded in Rome and has a first-round bye. He will open against either 2008 Rome runner-up Stan Wawrinka or a qualifier. Round three could see the Canadian clash with No. 8 seed Alex de Minaur. Auger-Aliassime has won both of their meetings on the ATP Tour, although the Aussie won their lone clay match on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2018. 

Denis Shapovalov, who reached the semifinals in Rome in 2020, opens against local Luciano Darderi and would meet No. 28 seed Mariano Navone in the second round. A win there would likely see him set up a rematch with Alexander Zverev of their recent Madrid clash

On the women’s side, Leylah Annie Fernandez will be the lone Canadian representative in singles. She will kick off her campaign against Ana Bogdan and would meet world No. 6 Marketa Vondrousova in the second round. The pair have split their previous two meetings, both in Billie Jean King Cup competition, with Fernandez having claimed the most recent clash in the 2023 semifinals

A round-two upset could see Fernandez face No. 28 seed Sorana Cirstea in the third round. 

Under the Radar: Marino Comes Close 

Like her fellow Canadian did in Madrid, Rebecca Marino went on a Cinderella run last week, albeit in doubles at the ITF W100 event in Gifu, Japan. 

Marino and partner Kimberly Birrell of Australia took down the third and top-seeded pairs on their way to the final in Gifu, where they ran out of magic against the second seeds En Shuo Liang of Chinese Taipei and Qianhui Tang of China. 

It was Marino’s second doubles final of the season on the ITF tour. Overall across all levels of the pros, Marino is 4-7 in doubles finals, her last victory coming at a WTA 125 event in Charleston with Liang. 

The ITF Junior Tour passed through Quebec City last week, with the host nation sweeping the titles. A highlight was the boys singles final, where Nicolas Arseneault defeated his twin brother Mikael. 

Read also: Dual Challenge for the 2024 National Bank Open

More to come on the J100 Quebec City event in this week’s Junior Update on Wednesday. 

At a J30 event in Montego Bay, Jamaica, there was an all-Canadian girls doubles final where Marylee Longpre and Eve Thibault defeated Jacey Tian and Anya Tkachyk 16-14 in the match tiebreak. 

Canada also had a win on the ITF Masters Tour, where Da Hong Wong won the MT100 Shijiazhuang men’s 55+ singles title. 

It’s a full week for the Canadians across all levels of the tours, with Gabriel Diallo and Alexis Galarneau competing in ATP Challenger events and groups of Canadian women competing at a couple of ITF W75s in Japan and Florida. 

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.