Photo : Martin Sidorjak
In some ways, week one of Roland-Garros was very predictable.
Pretty much all of the favourites on the men’s side got the job done, setting up what should be a dramatic second week. On the women’s side, the overwhelming favourite seems primed to continue her domination as the draw implodes around her.
But one pesky Canadian might have something to say about it.
Here’s what you need to know.
In Case You Missed It: Fernandez, Dabrowski still standing in Paris; Auger-Aliassime makes history in defeat
With the crowded fields at a Grand Slam event, it is really hard to steal the show. But that’s what the Canadians managed to do in week one of the French Open.
Leylah Annie Fernandez looks to be rounding back into the form that saw her reach the US Open final last fall, advancing to her second major quarter-final.
Despite an unkind draw, Fernandez has shown her trademark grit. She cruised through her first two matches without dropping a set before upsetting 14th seed Belinda Bencic in three tight sets in the third round.
In round four, she again needed three sets, but managed to best 2019 Roland-Garros semi-finalist Amanda Anisimova to reach the last eight.
An all-Canadian match-up in the third round was only narrowly averted, as Bianca Andreescu was beaten by Bencic in straight sets. Had Andreescu won, she would have met Fernandez in round three.
Considering that Fernandez was victorious in all four matches, arguably the bigger star of the week was Félix Auger-Aliassime, who did what only two men had ever done before: push 13-time champion Rafael Nadal to five sets at Roland-Garros.
Auger-Aliassime almost did not make it to fourth-round clash with the King of Clay, as he trailed by two sets to love in his first-round match against qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas. But the Canadian was able to rally for the comeback win and did not look back, winning his next two matches in straight sets to become just the second Canadian man in the Open Era to reach the fourth round in singles at all four Grand Slam events.
As the massive underdog against Nadal, Auger-Aliassime gave the greatest clay-court player of all time everything he could handle, taking the opening set and then showing incredible nerve to battle back to force a fifth after Nadal pulled ahead.
Even though he was unable to finish the job in the fifth set, Auger-Aliassime joined an exclusive club with Novak Djokovic and John Isner as the only men to push Nadal to five sets at the French Open.
The other two Canadians competing in singles, Denis Shapovalov and Rebecca Marino, were both beaten in straight sets in the first round.
Shapovalov fell to Holger Rune, who went on to reach the fourth round, while Marino was beaten by 18th seed Coco Gauff, who is still alive in the quarter-finals.
In doubles, Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski experienced mixed results.
She and partner Giuliana Olmos, the third seeds in the women’s doubles, were upset in the third round by 14th seeds Jelena Ostapenko and Lyudmyla Kichenok.
Dabrowski is still alive in the mixed doubles quarter-finals with John Peers.
Fernandez and partner Kirsten Flipkens were beaten in the second round by second seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens.
Overall, the men’s singles was fairly predictable, with 14 of the last 16 players left in the draw being seeded, including the entire Top 8. Five of the top eight seeds reached the quarter-finals, although one major upset saw Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was the favourite to come out of the bottom half, lose to Dane Holger Rune in the fourth round.
However, the women’s side only had the one constant, that being world No. 1 Iga Świątek, to be relied upon. The top seed cruised into the last sixteen without dropping a set, before rallying from a set down to reach the quarter-finals.
Świątek was the only Top 10 seed to reach the fourth round. Jessica Pegula was the only other Top 16 seed to reach the last sixteen.
What to Watch: Leylah seeks second major final
Heading into the quarter-finals, which begin on Tuesday, Leylah Fernandez is the highest-ranked player left in the bottom half of the draw, arguably making her the favourite to reach the final.
Standing in her way is Martina Trevisan, who reached the quarter-finals in 2020 and is coming off a title run in Rabat the week before Roland-Garros. That match will be first on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday morning.
Should Fernandez win her quarter-final, she will meet either fellow young gun Coco Gauff or 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens for a spot in the final.
Iga Świątek is the expected finalist from the top half, although she still has two matches to go. She will meet 11th seed Jessica Pegula in the quarter-finals and then the winner between Daria Kasatkina and Camila Giorgi in the semi-finals.
All eyes are on the top half of the men’s draw as Nadal-Djokovic LIX will take place in the quarter-finals on Tuesday. Djokovic beat Nadal in last year’s semi-finals, although the Spaniard has won seven of nine meetings at Roland-Garros.
The winner of that match will likely play the other title favourite, Carlos Alcaraz, should the Spaniard defeat fourth seed Alexander Zverev in their quarter-final.
In the bottom half, Casper Ruud has booked his place in the last eight and will face Holger Rune, who reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final by upsetting last year’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas. The final quarter-final match-up will be determined later on Monday and will pit Andrey Rublev against Daniil Medvedev or Marin Cilic.
Gabriela Dabrowski will look to keep her French Open going in the mixed doubles quarter-finals with John Peers. They play an unseeded pair in the last eight and would meet second seeds Wesley Koolhof and Ena Shibahara in the semi-finals.
Under the Radar:
While all eyes were on Paris last week, Canada’s Stacey Fung was busy cleaning up in Mexico. The 25-year-old Canadian won her second career ITF title, picking up the win at the W15 event in Cancun.
Both of Fung’s titles have been in Cancun, having won another W15 event there last December. The Canadian was rock solid in her title run last week, dropping three or fewer games in eight of the 10 sets she won, only losing two sets overall.
Fung also reached the doubles final with Dasha Ivanova as the top seeds, but were defeated in the final.
Eight Canadians, four men and four women, including Fung, are competing at another ITF event this week in Cancun.
Steven Diez and Alexis Galarneau are both competing in ATP Challenger events this week in Germany and Italy respectively.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.