Photo : Martin Sidorjak
Let’s start by looking on the bright side. The tennis season is incredibly long and Team Canada presented by Sobeys will get to start their offseason a bit early.
The 2019 Davis Cup runners-up were eliminated from the team competition last week and will not be running it back after a poor group stage performance.
Still, there was one Canadian who had a really good week.
Here’s what you need to know:
In Case You Missed It: Canada bows out early at Davis Cup
Returning to the final at the Davis Cup was always going to be a challenge for Team Canada presented by Sobeys without their top three players. In the end, it proved to be too much as the Canadians were unable to advance out of the group stage at the Davis Cup Finals.
The team got off to a rough start when they were swept, three straight-set losses, by Sweden on day one in Madrid.
Things improved slightly against Kazakhstan on Sunday, but not enough. Brayden Schnur and the doubles pair of Schnur and Peter Polansky both managed to stretch their matches to deciding sets, but were unable to clinch a victory.
Canada needed a big result to have any hope of advancing, but they needed to win matches, not just sets. The 2019 runners-up finished the group stage 0-6, last in Group B, and were eliminated.
If it was any consolation, the Canadians were not the only ones to suffer a big disappointment at the Davis Cup. The team that beat them in the 2019 final, Spain, was also knocked out in the group stage.
Despite finishing second in their group, the defending champions were not one of the two best second-place teams and were eliminated. A third-set doubles loss against the Russian Tennis Federation, who won the group, ending up being the difference.
An odd bit of history was made in Group E by the young Italian phenom Jannik Sinner.
In the final singles match of the group stage, with a chance to clinch the tie against the United States and win the group, Sinner dropped the biggest beatdown John Isner had ever suffered in his career. The serve monster only managed two games, the fewest he had ever won in a completed match in his career.
With Isner’s mighty serve, it is extremely rare for the American to be broken. Let’s not forget he once held 69 times in one set. In this match, he was broken five times and only held serve twice.
Sinner managed two bagel sets in the group stage.
Top 10 players pretty much lived up to their billing in the group stage, with Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Sinner going a combined 7-1 in singles. Rublev was the only one to lose a set and a match.
Under the Radar: Branstine rules in Egypt
While Team Canada presented by Sobeys was unable to lift the trophy in Madrid, there was a Canadian who got their hands on some hardware last week.
Carson Branstine won her first ITF title last weekend, winning the W15 event in Cairo. The Canadian only dropped one set on her way to the title. She upset the top seed Rosa Vicens Mas in the quarter-finals before beating Priska Madelyn Nugroho in the final, both in straight sets.
It was Branstine’s first final in over two years. She had lost both her previous ITF finals, both in 2019, in three sets, including a three-set loss in Gatineau to a 16-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez.
With the holidays approaching, most players are choosing to start their offseason. As a result, there are no Canadians in action this week on the professional tours.
What to Watch: Davis Cup brings 2021 to a close
Eight teams remain at the Davis Cup and by Sunday, one will hoist the world’s ugliest salad bowl as world champions.
The quarter-finals will begin on Monday with Italy taking on Croatia. Britain faces off with Germany on Tuesday. Serbia will play Kazakhstan on Wednesday before Sweden and the Russian Tennis Federation bring the round to a close on Thursday.
Four teams will advance to the semi-finals on Friday and Saturday, with the two winners doing battle in Sunday’s final.
Once the trophy is lifted, the 2021 ATP season will officially come to an end.