Photo : @TennisChannel
There is no easing back in when it comes to professional tennis.
The first week of the 2023 season took place last week and already all of Canada’s stars have made their returns to the court, with varying degrees of success. And time to find their form ahead of the season’s first major is already running out.
For some, play has already begun in Melbourne.
Here’s what you need to know.
In Case You Missed It: Fernandez leads opening week charge
With a full slate of Canadians competing in the opening week of the season, it was a fairly quiet week results-wise.
Leylah Annie Fernandez had the best showing, reaching her first doubles final on the WTA Tour alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the WTA 250 Auckland Open. They were beaten in the third-set super tiebreak by Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi.
Ysaline Bonaventure was a thorn in the side of the Canadians in Auckland, beating Rebecca Marino in the second round and Fernandez in the singles quarter-finals.
The biggest event of the week was in Adelaide, which boasted a monster draw for a WTA 500 event.
Bianca Andreescu was the lone Canadian in the women’s draw but was beaten by world No. 9 Veronika Kudermetova in the second round.
Despite a field featuring four Top 10 players, it was 18-year-old Linda Noskova of Czechia who stole the show in Adelaide, beating two of them, No. 8 Daria Kasatkina and No. 2 Ons Jabeur, while also adding a win over two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka on her way to her first WTA Tour final.
Noskova ran out of gas in the title match against her third Top 10 opponent of the week, falling to No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets.
On the men’s side in Adelaide, Denis Shapovalov kicked off his year with a solid quarter-final showing. He defeated Rinky Hijikata and Roman Safiullin before falling top seed Novak Djokovic in two tight sets.
Djokovic went on to claim the trophy, saving a championship point in the final before defeating Sebastian Korda to win his 92nd career title, which tied him with rival Rafael Nadal for fourth most by a man in the Open Era.
Of the five Canadians playing in the main draws in week one of the 2023 season, only Félix Auger-Aliassime was unable to score a victory, losing his opening match in Adelaide to Alexei Popyrin, who went on to reach the quarter-finals.
The inaugural United Cup was won last week by the United States, who defeated Italy 4-0 in the final. The Americans dominated the tournament, losing just two total matches in the entire event.
Both their semifinal win over Poland and finals win over Italy were shutouts. That included Jessica Pegula scoring her first victory over world No. 1 Iga Świątek in the USA’s win over the Poles.
Pegula, Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys all scored singles victories in the final. Italy had defeated Greece 4-1, with Stefanos Tsitsipas beating Matteo Berrettini for the lone Greek point while Martina Trevisan upset Maria Sakkari, in order to reach the title match.
At the ATP 250 event in Pune, India, Tallon Griekspoor won his first career title with a comeback win over Benjamin Bonzi in the final.
Last Week’s Results
What to Watch: Final Approach Towards Melbourne
Only one week remains until the first Grand Slam on the 2023 calendar.
For some, including a group of Canadians, play is already underway at Melbourne Park as qualifying for the Australian Open began on Monday down under.
Carol Zhao was the lone Canadian to advance on the first day, while both Eugenie Bouchard and Gabriel Diallo were knocked out. Alexis Galarneau and Katherine Sebov play their first qualifying match on Tuesday in Melbourne. Sebov will face off with second seed and last week’s breakout star Linda Noskova.
There are three rounds of qualifying for the Australian Open, with 16 spots up for grabs in both the men’s and women’s draws.
Only two Canadians were competing on the main tours this week, but both lost their opening matches.
Gabriela Dabrowski made her 2023 debut in Adelaide with partner Giuliana Olmos, but lost to Sam Stosur and Nicole Melichar-Martinez. Rebecca Marino was competing at the Hobart International but lost to fifth seed Anhelina Kalinina.
Marie Bouzkova is the top seed in Hobart, followed by Elise Mertens.
The field at Adelaide 2, also a WTA 500, is not as strong as the previous week after the top three seeds all pulled out, including WTA No. 1 Iga Świątek.
Caroline Garcia is the top seed and is joined by Daria Kasatkina, Belinda Bencic, Veronika Kudermetova and 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins.
On the men’s side, Adelaide is just a 250 event and Andrey Rublev is the top seed. The ATP event in Auckland takes place this week with Casper Ruud leading the field that also features Cameron Norrie.
Under the Radar:
Just the like the main tours, the ITF circuit got underway last week with Canada’s Marina Stakusic reaching the quarter-finals of an event in Malibu before withdrawing.
Steven Diez and Kelsey Stevenson will get their seasons underway this week on the ATP Challenger Tour, while a group of Canadian women are competing at ITF events.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.