Felix Auger-Aliassime holds the Basel trophy.

Photo : Laver Cup

There’s no place like indoor European hard courts for Felix Auger-Aliassime. 

Just when it looked like 2023 might be a lost season for the Canadian, a return to his favourite surface provided exactly what he needed to avoid ending the season on a sour note. And there are still a few weeks left to build some momentum. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

In Case You Missed It: Back-to-Back in Basel 

Coming into Basel with a losing record on the season and at risk of falling out of the Top 20, Felix Auger-Aliassime desperately needed something to go right. 

While normally the sun and fresh air are considered beneficial to one’s help, depriving himself of it certainly helped the Canadian’s tennis. 

Looking far more like the player who dominated indoors last October, Auger-Aliassime cruised to his second straight title in Basel with the loss of just one set, that coming in a wild quarter-final with Alexander Shevchenko

In the semis, he scored his first Top 10 win of the year against Holger Rune, avenging a first-round defeat from last month, before capping off the run with a win over Hubert Hurkacz. 

It is the fifth title of Auger-Aliassime’s career and the first successful title defence. All of his titles have come on indoor hard courts. It is also the 12th time in the last 16 editions of the Swiss Indoors that a player born on Aug. 8 won the title as the Canadian famously shares a birthday with 10-time Basel champion Roger Federer. 

He is also the first Canadian man to defend a title on the ATP Tour since Milos Raonic won three straight titles in San Jose from 2011 to 2013. 

The tennis competition at the Pan American Games took place last week and Rebecca Marino came agonizingly close to scoring a medal for Canada. She reached the semifinals but lost to Maria Lourdes Carle of Argentina and then fell in the bronze medal match to another Argentine, Julia Riera, despite taking the opening set. 

Justin Boulais was the lone Canadian man competing and reached the third round, upsetting 10th seed Omni Kumar of the USA in round two, before falling to eventual fourth-place finisher Gustavo Heide of Brazil. 

*(Year-to-date titles/career titles)  

What to Watch: Dabrowski Aims for Big Finish 

It’s a big week on both tours with the final Masters 1000 event of the season taking place in Paris, while the WTA Tour wraps up in Cancun with the WTA Finals. 

Gabriela Dabrowski’s red-hot finish to the year saw her and Erin Routliffe squeak in to the eight-team doubles field. They were drawn into the Mahahual Group and got off to a quick start with a straight-set win over top seeds Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula. 

The other two teams in their group are the Czech powerhouses Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova and the team Dabrowski and Routliffe beat in the US Open final, Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva. 

There are two groups of four teams, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the semifinals. Dabrowski and Routliffe will play their next round-robin match on Tuesday with the third being played on Thursday. 

In the singles, which follows the same format, the Bacalar Group contains world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka along with Jessica Pegula, Elena Rybakina, and Maria Sakkari. Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Ons Jabeur and Marketa Vondrousova are in the Chetumal Group. 

Over in Paris, Felix Auger-Aliassime will look to keep the good vibes going on his favourite surface but will have his hands full. He meets Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round and would face seventh-seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round. 

Carlos Alcaraz is the Canadian’s projected quarter-final opponent, with his nemesis Daniil Medvedev potentially lurking in the semifinals. Novak Djokovic is the top seed on the other side of the draw. 

Auger-Aliassime is also playing doubles with Sebastian Korda. 

Under the Radar: Stakusic Brings Good Form Home 

Few players have been playing as well on the ITF circuit over the last two months as Canada’s newest Billie Jean King Cup team member Marina Stakusic. 

The 18-year-old scored her third title in her last five events, this time lifting a trophy on home soil at the Tevlin Challenger in Toronto. 

Kayla Cross and American partner Liv Hovde reached the doubles final but lost to Americans Carmen and Ivana Corley. Vicotria Mboko also reached the singles semifinals. 

Marina Stakusic holds Tevlin Challenger trophy
Photo : Neena Channan

There was also a men’s ITF event in St. Augustin last week, won by Brit Charles Broom. Dan Martin had the best Canadian result, reaching the quarter-finals. 

This week. Canada’s future stars are competing at the Junior Davis Cup in Cordoba Spain. Canada won the title in 2015 when Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov were on the team. 

Rob Shaw is playing this week at the Wheelchair Masters event in Barcelona, Spain. He is competing in both quad singles and doubles, joining up with Heath Davidson in the doubles. The Canadian got into the singles as a replacement after the No. 6 seed Koji Sugeno withdrew. 

Both draws start with a round robin, with the eight players/teams divided into two groups of four, with the top two players/teams advancing to the knockout stage. 

In singles, Shaw is in Group B with Sam Schroder (No. 2), David Wagner (No. 4), and Andy Lapthorne (No. 8). The Canadian defeated Wagner in his opening match on Monday in straight sets. 

“No better time to get my first big win of the season. It’s been a long time coming but finally beat a top 3 players this year,” said Shaw after the win. “Really happy with how I played given I wasn’t even supposed to be playing in singles. Still more to improve on but hit with more intention and authority today which is the only way forward. Tomorrow should be a battle vs world #No. 2.” 

On home soil this week, there is a joint ITF M25/W25 event taking place in Edmonton with large Canadian contingents in both the men’s and women’s events. 

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.