Photo : @AdelaideTennis
If it feels like Félix Auger-Aliassime only just closed out the 2022 season by clinching the Davis Cup for Canada, that’s because it was just five weeks ago.
Tennis has one of the shortest off-seasons in all of professional sport and the 2023 season is already underway. In fact, it started in 2022!
The first slate of ATP and WTA events of the season are happening this week, along with a historic new combined event, and Canada’s stars are wasting no time in getting their years underway.
Here’s what you need to know:
What to Watch: Week one clash of Canadians?
2022 ended with six Canadians in the Top 100 of the ATP and WTA rankings, three men and three women, and all of them are or were in action in week one of the 2023 season.
The women led the way with Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Annie Fernandez, and Rebecca Marino all scoring victories in their first matches of the season.
Andreescu’s win at the WTA 500 event in Adelaide was particularly notable as she mounted one of her classic comebacks to stun Garbine Muguruza. The Canadian trailed 0-6, 2-5 in the first-round encounter, by managed to turn the tide against the two-time Grand Slam winner and walked away with an improbable three-set victory. She meets fourth seed Veronika Kudermetova in the second round.
Adelaide’s draw boasts four Top 10 players, led by world No. 2 Ons Jabeur who is the top seed. She is joined by No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 9 Kudermetova. No. 8 Daria Kasatkina was also playing in Adelaide but lost in the first round.
Fernandez and Marino are both seeded at the WTA 250 ASB Classic in Auckland and are on a quarter-final collision course. Both women won their first matches of the year in straight sets on Monday and will meet in the next round if Fernandez, the third seed, beats Julia Grabher and Marino, the eighth seed, defeats Ysaline Bonaventure.
Both Canadian women are also playing doubles (separately).
Americans Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens are the top two seeds. Former Grand Slam winners Venus Williams, Sofia Kenin and Emma Raducanu all are competing.
The Canadian men got off to a more sluggish start in Adelaide, with two of the three members of Canada’s Davis Cup-winning team already eliminated.
Félix Auger-Aliassime got his 2023 campaign off to a disappointing start after his brilliant finish to the previous year, losing his opening match in straight sets to Alexei Popyrin. Auger-Aliassime was the second seed behind Novak Djokovic.
Vasek Pospisil lost in the final round of qualifying to Roman Safiullin. He teamed up with Djokovic in the doubles, but the pair lost in the first round of the main draw.
Denis Shavapolov is already the lone Canadian man left standing in week one. The seventh seed in Adelaide will meet qualifier Rinky Hijikata in his first singles match of 2023 on Tuesday in New Zealand. He would meet Safiullin in the second round and is in the same quarter as Djokovic.
The Canadian No. 2 won his first doubles match of the year already alongside Sebastian Korda. They will meet second seed Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the second round.
Also in the loaded Adelaide draw, just an ATP 250 event remember, are Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune, and Jannik Sinner.
The 2023 season actually began in the final week of 2022 with the first ever United Cup taking place in Australia, featuring combined national teams. It is the first tour-level event that brings the men and women together.
18 countries have been divided into six groups of three for a round robin. Three cities are hosting with two groups playing in each city. The winners of each group will advance to the “city finals” for a playoff with the three winners advancing to the semifinals along with the city final loser with the best record, at which point it becomes a standard knockout event.
Ties are not all played on the same day, so not all countries have played the same amount so far. Croatia has yet to lose a match, currently holding a 7-0 record, while the United States are not far behind at 6-1.
Great Britain is the only nation to have completed and won both their ties, clinching their group with wins over Australia and Spain.
Some of the loaded teams competing in the inaugural United Cup include women’s world No. 1 Iga Świątek and Hubert Hurkacz for Poland, Rafael Nadal and Paula Badosa for Spain, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari for Greece, Belinda Bencic and Stan Wawrinka for Switzerland, and loaded American side that includes Jessica Pegula, Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Madison Keys for the United States.
Alexander Zverev is competing for Germany, marking his first tour-level action since injuring his ankle in the semifinals of Roland Garros in June.
Teams can have up to four men and four women. Canada is not competing.
One other event is taking place on the ATP Tour, a 250 event in Pune, India. Marin Cilic is the top seed.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.