Bianca Andreescu pumps her first.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Clay court Bianca is not something Canadian tennis fans have had much opportunity to see. After all, going into 2022, she had only played four matches on the surface on the WTA tour in her career.

But it was worth the wait as the Canadian star is lighting it up this week at the Madrid Open. And she has set a high bar for her male counterparts who are making their way to the Spanish capital.

Here’s what you need to know.

In Case You Missed It: Andreescu Ascendant

Even if the men had started their main draw play in Madrid last week, Bianca Andreescu still probably would have been among the biggest stories of the week.

The 2019 US Open champion is quickly rounding into form in just her second event back after a seven-month layoff, reaching the last sixteen at the Madrid Open in impressive fashion.

First, she gritted out a tough win in her opening match against Alison Riske. Then, she upped her game big-time in the second round as she blew out the sixth seed and this year’s Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins with the loss of just two games.

Andreescu has already set a career high for clay court match wins in a season on the WTA tour. She will play a third consecutive American, Jessica Pegula, in the third round.

Leylah Annie Fernandez’s tumultuous tournament came to an end in the second round, where she lost in two tight sets to Jil Teichmann. Fernandez’s draw changed at the last minute when she was moved up to the top of the draw as a replacement for world No. 1 Iga Świątek.

However, Fernandez did pick up a doubles win in her opening match with Katerina Siniaokva, although they lost in the second round.

The women’s event in Madrid has been unpredictable overall. Between upsets and withdrawals, only seven of the 16 women to reach round three were seeded and only one member of the Top 10, Ons Jabeur, is still in the tournament.

It has been a good tournament for some of the young guns, as big names left in the draw include Andreescu, Emma Raducanu, and Coco Gauff.

Along with Fernandez, Gabriela Dabrowski advanced to the second round of the doubles with a three-set win. She and partner Giuliana Olmos are the second seeds in Madrid.

Frustrated Félix

While Andreescu is bringing back memories of 2019, Félix Auger-Aliassime is probably longing for some of that mojo.

That year, he made a pair of clay-court finals. In 2022, he is struggling to pick up match wins on the surface.

Last week at the Estoril Open, Auger-Aliassime reached the quarter-finals, which only required one win because he was the top seed and had a first-round bye, where he was beaten handily by Sebastian Korda 6-2, 6-2.

Even in his win he struggled, dropping the first set 6-1 to Carlos Taberner before rallying to win in three sets.

A different Sebastian, 21-year-old Argentine Sebastian Baez, went on to win the title in Estoril, the first of his career, beating Frances Tiafoe in the final.

Baez was one of two players to win their first career title last week, as Holger Rune lifted his first tour-level trophy in Munich after Botic van de Zandschulp retired in the final.

The two finalists were responsible for the two biggest upsets of the event, as Rune beat top seed and home favourite Alexander Zverev, while van de Zandschulp beat Casper Ruud. Neither of the top two seeds, both Top 10 players, won a match in Munich.

What You Watch: Make Room for the Boys

After having the attention all to themselves last week, the women will have to share the spotlight this week as the men’s draw gets underway in Madrid.

Denis Shapovalov returns to the tour after not playing at all on clay in April. He plays his first match since Miami, and first on clay in 2022, on Monday against Ugo Humbert and would play a former major winner, either Dominic Thiem or Andy Murray in the second round.

He could meet world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in round three. Shapovalov reached the semi-finals in his Madrid debut in 2018, but has gone 1-2 since.

As the eighth seed, Auger-Aliassime will get a first-round bye and will open his campaign against either the Estoril runner-up Tiafoe, who Auger-Aliassime beat in Barcelona last month, or Christian Garin.

His first seeded opponent could be No. 10 Jannik Sinner in the third round. Auger-Aliassime is in the same quarter as Zverev, who is the defending champion.

The match circled on everyone’s calendar is a potential all-Spanish generational clash in the quarter-finals between the King of Clay Rafael Nadal and his heir-apparent Carlos Alcaraz.

Nadal returns to the tour after missing Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona with a stress fracture in his rib. His last match win came in the Indian Wells semi-finals over Alcaraz. The winner of that match could meet Djokovic in the semi-finals

The women’s event will wrap up earlier in the week.

Andreescu will look to add another American to her victim list in the third round against Pegula. A win would set up a quarter-final clash with either Daria Kasatkina or Sara Sorribes Tormo. Raducanu is a potential semi-final opponent and the highest-ranked player left in the top half of the draw with the Canadian.

Jabeur, who advanced to the quarter-finals earlier Monday morning, is the highest-ranked player left in the draw. She will play Gauff or Simona Halep in the quarter-finals.

Under the Radar:

For the second week in a row, Steven Diez reached the quarter-finals of an ATP Challenger event in Mexico.

18-year-old Canadian Mia Kupres reached the quarter-finals of an ITF event in Turkey, where she lost to the eventual champion Ksenia Laskutova.

Liam Draxl had a strong week at the ITF event in Vero Beach, Florida, reaching the singles semi-finals where he lost to the eventual champion Sekou Bangoura. He went a step farther in the doubles, reaching the final with partner Millen Hurrion.

The big event to keep an eye on this week is the WTA 125 event in Saint Malo, France, where Rebecca Marino is competing.

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.