Photo : Giampiero Sposito/FIT
No matter the level of the professional game, Canadians were making waves last week in the tennis world.
An ATP title, WTA and ATP Challenger finals, and an ITF victory on home soil highlighted the success Canadian players are having in a truly special time for the game in the Great White North.
And for the players on the ATP and WTA Tours, it is happening at the perfect time with the year-end championships fast approaching.
Here’s what you need to know.
In Case You Missed It: Felix strikes in Florence
After turning pro in 2017, it took Félix Auger-Aliassime nearly five years and nine finals to claim his first title on the ATP Tour.
He only needed eight months and two more finals to win his second.
Auger-Aliassime blew threw the field at the new ATP 250 event in Florence last week, dropping just one set on his way to the title, beating American J.J. Wolf in the final.
As the top seed, Auger-Aliassime was the favourite and played like it. Apart from a blip in the second set of his first match against Oscar Otte, the Canadian cruised through the draw with an absolute clinic in attacking tennis.
He finished off Otte easily in the third set and followed it up with straight-set wins over eighth seed Brandon Nakashima and third seed Lorenzo Musetti before polishing off Wolf in the final.
The win is critical for the Canadians’ bid to qualify for the ATP Finals. The title puts him back in control of his own destiny as he now sits in the seventh and final qualifying spot for the year-end championships, leapfrogging Taylor Fritz. He leads the American by 180 points and is 375 behind Andrey Rublev who sits sixth.
Gabriela Dabrowski very nearly joined Auger-Aliassime in the winner’s circle last week, reaching the final of the WTA 500 San Diego Open, but was beaten by Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff in the title match.
San Diego was Dabrowski’s third final in a row, having won the titles in both Chennai and Tokyo. The finals defeat was her first loss since the US Open. She has already qualified for the WTA Finals.
Gauff was the Canadian killer in San Diego, as she also edged Bianca Andreescu in the second round of the singles in a three-set thriller.
Leylah Annie Fernandez fell victim to a brutal draw in San Diego, losing in the first round to eighth seed Daria Kasatkina. In doubles, Rebecca Marino and Carol Zhao lost in the first round to Sofia Kenin and Liudmila Samsonova.
Shocking no one, the title in San Diego was won by world No. 1 Iga Świątek, who defeated Donna Vekic to snap her one-final losing streak and claim her eighth title of 2022 in 16 events, a winning rate of 50 per cent. She did lose a set in a final for just the third time, although she finished it off with a bagel in the third, her fifth in 13 career finals.
Eugenie Bouchard was the lone Canadian competing at the Transylvania Open, but retired from her first-round match against second seed Anna Kalinina. The title was won by Anna Blinkova, her first career title.
The other men’s title last week was won by Andrey Rublev, who defeated Sebastian Korda to lift the trophy in Gijon, Spain.
What to Watch: Guadalajara Will Do for the Canadians
For the majority of players on the WTA circuit, this week is the final week of their season as the last regular tour event is taking place in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Four Canadians feature in the singles main draw, along with Gabriela Dabrowski who is the fourth seed in the doubles.
The draw at the WTA 1000 event provides a fascinating opportunity for the Canadians to preview their Billie Jean King Cup tie next month against Switzerland as both Leylah Annie Fernandez and Bianca Andreescu were drawn in Guadalajara against their likely opponents for the team competition in Glasgow.
Fernandez once again has a tough first round clash, this time against 10th seed Belinda Bencic. They are both expected to be their nations’ respective No. 1 players when the Canada and Switzerland meet on Nov. 11. Andreescu will meet Swiss No. 2 Jil Teichmann in her opening match in Guadalajara.
Should she upset Bencic, Fernandez would meet either Sloane Stephens or Linda Fruhvirtova in the second round, followed by sixth seed Carolina Garcia in round three. Garcia could face another member of the Canadian Billie Jean King Cup team in the second round should Rebecca Marino, who came through qualifying, beat American Ann Li.
Andreescu could meet 16th seed Petra Kvitova in the second round and third seed Jessica Pegula in the round of sixteen. All three Canadian Billie Jean King Cup team members are in the same quarter, meaning Andreescu could meet Fernandez or Marino in the quarter-finals.
Eugenie Bouchard is also in the draw in Guadalajara. She plays American Kayla Day in the first round and could meet 12th seed Jelena Ostapenko in round two. She is in the bottom half of the draw away from her compatriots.
Paula Badosa is the top seed, although second seed Aryna Sabalenka is the highest-ranked player in the draw. Six of the world’s Top 10 players are competing in Guadalajara, although the Top 3 are all skipping the event.
The major storyline in Guadalajara is qualification for the WTA Finals. Five spots remain up for grabs entering the final WTA 1000 event of the season. Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur and Pegula have already qualified.
Coco Gauff, Sabalenka, Garcia, Daria Kasatkina and Simona Halep currently sit in the five qualifying spots, although Halep has already ended her season meaning Veronika Kudermetova, No. 9 in the race, is currently position to qualify.
On the ATP Tour, Félix Auger-Aliassime will look to further bolster his bid to qualify for the ATP Finals by carrying his momentum into Antwerp this week, where he is the second seed at the European Open.
Following a bye, he will meet a Frenchman, either Manuel Guinard or Arthur Rinderknech, in the second round. He is in the same quarter as fifth seed Dan Evans and same half as third seed Diego Schwartzman. Hubert Hurkacz is the top seed.
Denis Shapovalov will look to continue his love affair with Stockholm and reach a third consecutive final in the Swedish capital this week. He is the fourth seed and will meet either Antoine Bellier or Alexander Shevchenko in his opening match.
The 2019 Stockholm champion could meet fifth seed Alex de Minaur in the quarter-finals followed by second seed Cameron Norrie in the semis. Stefanos Tsitsipas is the top seed.
Shapovalov won his lone ATP Tour title in Stockholm in 2019. He reached the final last year but lost to Tommy Paul. Paul has one of the more intriguing first-round match at the 2022 event, as he will meet wildcard Leo Borg in the first round of this event for the second year in a row. Borg is the son of 11-time Grand Slam champion Bjorn Borg.
Also on the ATP schedule this week is the Tennis Napoli Cup. The draw is headlined by National Bank Open champion Pablo Carreno Busta and local favourite Matteo Berrettini.
Under the Radar: Another Final for Diallo, Fung wins in Fredericton
In August while competing at the ATP Challenger event in Granby, Gabriel Diallo said his goal for the 2022 season was to get inside the Top 500 in the ATP rankings.
He shattered that goal by winning the Granby title and hit another milestone last week, halving that original goal by getting up to No. 250 in the world after reaching the final of another ATP Challenger event last week in Fairfield, US.
Diallo defeated two seeded opponents and dropped just one set on his way to the final, where he was defeated by American Michael Mmoh. It was a second ATP Challenger final for the young Canadian.
Alexis Galarneau reached the quarter-finals of the same event in Fairfield, while Vasek Pospisil advanced to the semifinals of a Challenger in Ismaning, Germany.
There were Canadians in finals at all levels of professional tennis last week, including a victory on home soil as Stacey Fung won the ITF W25 event on Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Fung went on a giant-killer run in Fredericton, beating the top three seeds on her way to the title, including a straight-sets win over top seed Arianne Hartono in the final. It is Fung’s fourth title on the ITF Tour in 2022 and her biggest one yet. Her other three titles were all W15s.
An even bigger prize is up for grabs this week on the ITF Circuit in Canada at the W60 Challenger Banque Nationale de Saguenay. Fung is one of nine Canadian women competing.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.