Photo : Gyles Dias
The ATP tour’s most unique event was the focus of the tennis world last week, but there was plenty of exciting action on both tours across the globe.
With the number of events, and quality of fields, ratcheting up with Indian Wells on the horizon, this is shaping up to be a fun week of tennis. Here’s what you need to know:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Europeans clean up at Laver Cup
Team Europe continued its domination at the Laver Cup in 2021, claiming a fourth straight victory, this one more one-sided than the rest. Despite not having any of the Big Three in their line-up for the first time, the Europeans, who still featured six of the world’s Top 10, had no trouble dispatching Team World in a 14-1 beatdown.
The only point for Team World came courtesy of Denis Shapovalov and John Isner, as they picked up a doubles victory on day one. Shapovalov was 1-2 in the competition, losing to Daniil Medvedev in singles on day two and then falling in doubles on the final day.
Despite being the highest ranked player on Team World, Félix Auger-Aliassime only appeared in one competitive match, losing a three-set thriller to Matteo Berrettini on day one. However, he did win an exhibition doubles match on the final day.
While most of the ATP Finals contenders were off playing Laver Cup, an event with no points available, Hubert Hurkacz strengthened his bid to qualify for the year-end championships by blowing away the field in Metz to claim his third title of 2021.
Hurkacz is now 4-0 in his career in finals and moves up into eighth in the race to Turin, technically the final qualifying spot although Rafael Nadal, who is currently seventh, has already ended his season.
The Pole did not drop a set on his way to the title, which included wins over Andy Murray, Peter Gojowczyk and second seed Pabloe Carreno Busta in the final. With the exception of the qualifier Gojowczyk, the tournament most followed the seedings, with the top three making the semis and top two reaching the final.
With such a deep field, it was a safe assumption that a big-name player would win the title in Ostrava. Instead, it was Anett Kontaveit blowing away the competition on a run that saw her beat four seeded players in a row to claim the biggest outright win of her career at the WTA 500 event.
Kontaveit beat Paula Badosa, Belinda Bencic, Petra Kvitova and finally Maria Sakkari in the final to claim the title, all without dropping a set. Sakkari herself had a good run, not dropping a set on her way to the final, including wins over Jelena Ostapenko and top seed Iga Swiatek.
It was not a great week for the Canadians on the tours, as Brayden Schnur (Metz) and Rebecca Marino (Columbus) both lost in the first round of their respective events, while Vasek Pospisil went down to Murray in the second round of Metz.
MUST WATCH: Canadians out in force
Fresh of their leading Team World at the Laver Cup last week, Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov both will both return to competitive play this week at the inaugural San Diego Open. They will be seeded third and fourth respectively, which means they both have first-round byes.
Auger-Aliassime will have his hands full with a challenging draw that will see him play either Grigor Dimitrov or Marton Fucsovics in his opening match. He then could meet recent Metz champion Hurkacz in the quarter-finals and then second seed Casper Ruud in the semis. Shapovalov has it slightly easier, with his first challenge coming in the quarters against eighth seed Dan Evans.
Joining the two Canadians are a pair of Top 10 players in Andrey Rublev and Ruud, who will be the top two seeds. Other big names include Fabio Fognini, Kei Nishikori, Murray, Diego Schwartzman, and National Bank Open runner-up Reilly Opelka.
Bianca Andreescu will look to re-find her form as she takes to the court this week at the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic among a loaded field that features eight of the Top 20.
The players competing in Chicago include worlds No. 4 and 9 Elina Svitolina and Garbine Muguruza, Olympic gold medallist Bencic and Roland Garros runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Seeded sixth, Andreescu has a bye and will open against either Shelby Rogers or qualifier Lizette Cabrera. She could meet last week’s Ostrava champion Kontaveit in the third round and is in the same quarter as second seed Muguruza. Andreescu is 16-10 on the season with one final in Miami in April.
Also in action in Chicago will be Sharon Fichman, competing alongside partner Giuliana Olmos in doubles. Marino was beaten in the final round of qualifying.
A similar field to the one featured in Metz last week will shift across the continent to Bulgaria for the Sofia Open, including Pospisil.
The Canadian reached the final of this event last year, losing a heart-breaker to Jannik Sinner in a third-set tiebreak. The Italian is back to defend his title. Also appearing in Sofia are Alex de Minaur and Gael Monfils.
Pospisil could find himself in an early rematch of that 2020 final, as he is in line to face Sinner in the second round should the Canadian beat a qualifier in the first.
UNDER THE RADAR: Polansky grabs doubles crown in Ohio
While most of the attention was on the Laver Cup last weekend, Peter Polansky was busy getting his hands on some hardware at the ATP Challenger event in Columbus. The Canadian veteran claimed the doubles title, the 18th at the Challenger level in his career, alongside Stefan Kozlov.
The pair upset the top seeds Robert Galloway and Alex Lawson in the semis before beating wildcards Andrew Lutschaunig and James Trotter in straight sets in the final.
This week, Brayden Schnur is the lone Canadian in action on the Challenger tour, competing in Orleans, France where he reached the main draw as a qualifier.
There are a number of Canadians competing in ITF events around the globe this week. You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.