Felix Auger-Aliassime raises his arms in celebration.

Photo : @USOpen

Given how 2022 played out, it is kind of amazing to think that one year ago, Félix Auger-Aliassime was still looking for his first ATP Tour title and was carrying the weight of a reputation as a player who could not bring his best tennis to the biggest matches.

Amazing how much one win can change a narrative.

And now 12 months later, the Canadian star returns to the venue where the entire trajectory of his career changed.

Here’s what you need to know.

What to Watch: A First for Félix

After eight finals defeats from 2019 through 2021, few moments felt as good on the ATP Tour last year as Félix Auger-Aliassime’s breakthrough title at the Rotterdam Open last February.

This week, the Canadian will look to recapture the Dutch magic as he attempts to defend a title for the first time in his career.

Auger-Aliassime is the third seed in Rotterdam, but faces a gauntlet if he hopes to run it back. He opens against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego and could meet sixth seed Daniil Medvedev, who leads their head-to-head 4-0, in the quarterfinals.

Andrey Rublev is the second seed and a potential semifinal opponent for Auger-Aliassime. Fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz is also in the bottom half. Stefanos Tsitsipas, who fell to the Canadian in the 2022 final, is the top seed and will have to contend with Jannik Sinner, Holger Rune and Alexander Zverev in the top half of the draw.

Denis Shapovalov will look to put a surprising defeat last week in Dallas behind him as he is back in action this week in Delray Beach, where he is the third seed. After a bye, he will play an American, either Michael Mmoh or Aleksandar Kovacevic, and could meet fifth seed Yoshihito Nishioka in the quarter-finals.

Taylor Fritz is the top seed and one of 13 Americans in the 28-man draw. He and Shapovalov could meet in the semifinals.

Rebecca Marino is the lone Canadian woman who made it into the stacked singles draw at the WTA 500 event in Doha this week, winning three three-set qualifying matches, two of them over seeds, to get into the main draw. Her reward for qualifying is a first-round match with sixth seed Daria Kasatkina.

Leylah Annie Fernandez nearly joined her, but lost in the final round of qualifying to the top seed Karolina Pliskova. Bianca Andreescu withdrew.

World No. 1 Iga Świątek is playing her first event since the Australian Open and is the defending champion in Doha. She leads seven of the world’s Top 10, including Jessica Pegula, Caroline Garcia, Maria Sakkari, Coco Gauff, Kasatkina and Bencic.

Men’s world No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz will make his return to the tour this week at the Argentina Open on clay, where he is the top seed. The former world No. 1 has not played since the Paris Masters last November.

In Case You Missed It: A Week to Forget for Canada

Five Canadians played in main draws last week on the two main tours, but none managed to win a match.

At the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi, Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Annie Fernandez, and Rebecca Marino all lost their first-round matches on the same day.

Marino lost to eventual semifinalist Qinwen Zheng, while Fernandez’s comeback bid fell short against Shelby Rogers. Andreescu lost to friend Yulia Putintseva in straight sets, although she did get a free dinner out of it.

Denis Shapovalov was stunned in his opening match at the Dallas Open by Yibing Wu of China in straight sets. However, he was redeemed when Wu went on to win the title, defeating top seed Taylor Fritz in the semis before outlasting John Isner in a three-hour, three-tiebreak final that ended 14-12 in the third set breaker, with the American having pounded 44 aces in the match.

With the win, Wu becomes the first Chinese man to win a singles title on the ATP Tour.

The closest a Canadian came to winning a match last week was Gabriel Diallo, who made his ATP Tour debut as a lucky loser in Dallas. He lost in a third-set tiebreak to Emilio Gomez.

(Year-to-Date Titles/Career Titles)

Under the Radar:

Vasek Pospisil looks to pick up where he left off on the ATP Challenger Tour this week. He is the top seed at an event in Cherbourg, France.

Highlights on the ITF circuit this week include Carol Zhao and Ana Grubor at a W60 event in Mexico, while a quartet of young Canadian women are competing in the Dominican Republic.

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.