Felix Auger-Aliassime holds the Basel trophy

Photo : Gabriel Monnet | Daniel Kopatsch

In hockey, a “natural hat trick” is when a player scores three goals in a row without anyone else putting one in the net.

For example, if Sidney Crosby scored the first three goals of a game to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-0 lead, it would not just be a hat trick for Sid, it would be a “natural” hat trick.

While there is no formal equivalence between most hockey and tennis terminology and feats, Félix Auger-Aliassime completed the closest thing to a tennis natural hat trick last week, something very rarely seen on the ATP Tour, to cap off a strong month in the world of Canadian tennis.

Here’s what you need to know.

In Case You Missed It: Félix’s trifecta

There is no one on planet earth right now playing better tennis than Félix Auger-Aliassime.

Last week, the Canadian won his third title in three weeks, cruising to victory at the Swiss Indoors Basel. It is his fourth title overall in 2022, second at the ATP 500 level, having come into the year 0-8 in finals. The victory in Basel follows up title runs in Antwerp last week and Florence the week before.

Not only did he win the title, he dominated the field. Auger-Aliassime lost just one set in the tournament, the first set of his first-round match against Marc-Andrea Huessler in a tiebreak, and won the title never having had his serve broken. He has held 86 consecutive service games, having last been broken in the first set of his quarter-final last week in Antwerp.

His second-round match lasted a mere 49 minutes and he hits more aces than he lost points on serve, a match Auger-Aliassime described as the best match he’s played in his life. In the semifinals, he handed Carlos Alcaraz his biggest loss of the season, dropping only five games in what was only the world No. 1’s second straight-set defeat of the year.

In the final, he capped off the title run with another straight-set win over Holger Rune. Auger-Aliassime’s career-best winning streak is now up to 13 matches.

On top of just winning the title, the victory gave Auger-Aliassime a stranglehold on a spot at the ATP Finals as he moved up to sixth in the Race to Turin, providing some cushion as he jumped past Andrey Rublev. Auger-Aliassime is 195 points ahead of Rublev, who now sits in the final qualifying spot, and 725 points ahead of Taylor Fritz, who would need to climb into the Top 7 to unseat the Canadian.

Canada nearly had two reasons to celebrate on Sunday as Denis Shapovalov came within a set of the Canadians sweeping the final two ATP 500 events of the season.

Shapovalov has also been in good form in October and reached his second final this month at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, where he won the first set of the title match before falling to Daniil Medvedev.

Being an ATP 500 event, it was the biggest final Shapovalov had reached since the Paris Masters in 2019.

Just to reach the final, the Canadian had to take out a series of difficult opponents, including a pair of Masters 1000 winners in 2022. In round two, he did Félix Auger-Aliassime a huge favour by taking out Fritz, severely damaging the Americans hopes of qualifying for the ATP Finals.

After beating the tricky Dan Evans in the quarter-finals, Shapovalov took down Cincinnati champion Borna Coric in straight sets before losing to Medvedev in the final.

While there were no WTA main tour events last week, there was some Canadian intrigue at the WTA 125 event in Tampico, Mexico, which featured an all-Canadian quarter-final clash between Rebecca Marino and Leylah Annie Fernandez.

Marino won the first-ever meeting between the two Billie Jean King Cup teammates, taking down Fernandez in straight sets. The veteran lost in the semifinals to Magda Linette.

Three other Canadian women competed in Tampico, all losing in the first round. Bianca Jolie Fernandez, Leylah Annie’s younger sister, also lost to Linette, Eugenie Bouchard fell to Renata Zarazua, and Billie Jean King Cup team member Carol Zhao was beaten by the eventual champion Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

The Fernandez sisters also lost in the first round of the doubles, as did Marino and partner Ingrid Neel.

What to Watch: Dabrowski lands at the WTA Finals, Auger-Aliassime’s eyes on Turin

While the final spots for the ATP Finals will be claimed this week, the WTA Finals gets underway in Fort Worth, Texas.

Gabriela Dabrowski is the lone Canadian who qualified for the year-end championships, alongside partner Giuliana Olmos. It is Dabrowski’s fourth appearance at the WTA Finals. She qualified last year, but did not compete as her partner was injured.

The Canadian-Mexican duo, who won a pair of titles together in 2022, are seeded second and are the highest-seeded pair in their group for the round robin.

They kick off their campaign on Tuesday night against seventh seeds Anna Danilina and Beatriz Haddad Maia. Also in the group are the fourth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens and fifth seeds Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko.

In singles, world No. 1 Iga Świątek will look to cap off her dominant season with a first title at the WTA Finals. She is the top seed and is in a group with Coco Gauff, Daria Kasatkina, and Caroline Garcia. The other group features Ons Jabeur, Jessica Pegula, Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka.

Świątek is the only Grand Slam winner competing in singles in Fort Worth, as Australian Open champion Ash Barty retired and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina did not qualify.

For both singles and doubles, two players/teams will advance out of the group stage to the semifinals, where the event becomes a traditional knockout.

Two spots are still up for grabs at the ATP Finals and will be decided this week at the Paris Masters.

Félix Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev currently hold the final two spots and both control their own destinies as they are on collision courses with the only two men who could catch them, Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz.

Both Hurkacz and Fritz need to win the title to qualify for Turin, meaning only one can qualify.

The only scenario in which Auger-Aliassime will not qualify for Turin is if Fritz wins the title and Rublev reaches the semis. Any other outcome and Auger-Aliassime will be heading to the ATP Finals. The Canadian controls his own fate in that regard as he and Fritz are in the same section of the draw and could meet in round three.

After a bye, Auger-Aliassime will look to keep his winning streak going against either Mikael Ymer or Alexander Bublik, who the Canadian beat in the Basel quarter-finals. He is in the same quarter as Daniil Medvedev and could meet top seed Carlos Alcaraz in the semis.

Rublev and Hurkacz could also meet in the third round, meaning only one of them mathematically can catch the Canadian in the race.

While he cannot qualify for Turin, Denis Shapovalov will look to keep his strong form going in Paris, where he reached the final in 2019. He will play Francisco Cerundolo in the first round and could meet National Bank Open champion Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round.

Should he advance to round three, he could play third seed Rafael Nadal, who is competing in his first event since the US Open. Each of the pair’s last three matches went the distance, including a five-set quarter-final earlier this year on hard courts at the Australian Open, as well as Shapovalov’s upset of the King of Clay in their most recent meeting in Rome.

Alcaraz leads a loaded field in Paris that includes nine of the world’s Top 10 players. Only Alexander Zverev is absent. Novak Djokovic is back to defend his title.

Under the Radar:

All five members of Canada’s Davis Cup Team presented by Sobeys were in action last week. While Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov were playing at ATP 500 events, Vasek Pospisil, Alexis Galarneau and Gabriel Diallo were all competing at the ATP Challenger event in Las Vegas.

Galarneau had the best result, reaching the quarter-finals where he lost to fourth seed and eventual runner-up Stefan Kozlov.

Pospisil was the third seed but lost in the first round to Jack Pinnington Jones. Diallo reached the second round where he lost to Juan Pablo Picovich.

At the ITF M25 event in Saint-Augustin, Quebec, the Canadians showed up big time on home soil. In the doubles, Keegan Rice and Duncan Chan won an all-Canadian final over Marko Stakusic and Jaden Weeks.

Justin Boulais reached the singles final, where he lost in two tight sets to Tunisia’s Aziz Dougaz. Canadians Jonathan Sorbo and Liam Draxl also reached the quarter-finals.

The Tevlin Challenger, a W60 ITF event, took place at Sobeys Stadium in Toronto last week, with American Robin Anderson claiming the title.

Five Canadians were competing at the event on home soil, although only Marina Stakusic got out of the first round. She lost in round two to the eventual champion Anderson.

Eugenie Bouchard, Carol Zhao and Katherine Sebov are all competing in a WTA 125 event this week in Midland, Michigan, while Galarneau will look to keep building momentum ahead of the Davis Cup at a Challenger event in Charlottesville, Virginia.

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.