Aryna Sabalenka (left) and Iga Swiatek shake hands at the net.

Photo : @TheTennisLetter

With Roland-Garros now just a couple of weeks away, the status of the favourites for the men and women seem to be trending in different directions after the results at the Madrid Open.

For the men, it’s becoming clear who the overwhelming favourite it, while on the women’s side it got a bit murkier when the WTA’s dominant force on clay lost to an in-form rival.

Here’s what you need to know.

In Case You Missed It: World No. 2s are No. 1 in Madrid 

Despite all the unexpected results and upsets that defined the men’s draw at the Madrid Open, the final surprised few, with Carlos Alcaraz successfully defending his title at his home Masters 1000 event.

He defeated one of the biggest surprises in ATP 1000 history, Jan-Lennard Struff, in the final. Struff was the first Lucky Loser ever to reach a Masters 1000 final.

Read the full event recap on the National Bank Open website.

The women’s draw had a very predictable final matchup, although perhaps a surprising result with world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka upsetting No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the final just two weeks after the Pole was victorious in their matchup in the Stuttgart final.

Read the full event recap on the Omnium Banque Nationale website.

No Canadians made it to the second week of the singles draws, but three pairs featuring Canadians reached at least the quarter-finals of the doubles.

Gabriela Dabrowski and partner Luisa Stefani reached the last eight before losing to top seeds Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula. Team Shauger, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, reached the men’s quarter-finals where they lost to Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer.

The best result belonged to Leylah Annie Fernandez as she and Taylor Townsend reached the women’s doubles semifinals, losing in a third-set super tiebreak to the eventual tournament champions Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia.

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

What to Watch: Last Chance in Rome

One more 1000-level event stands between now and the pinnacle of the clay-court season, Roland-Garros.

Only three Canadians feature in the main draws of the singles this week at the Italian Open in Rome.

Bianca Andreescu continues her comeback from injury and, as the 24th seed, has a first-round bye. She will play either Marketa Vondrousova or Kaia Kanepi in the second round. The draw has not been kind to Andreescu who could play No. 9 seed Maria Sakkari in round three. Andreescu did defeat Sakkari earlier this year in Miami.

Were she to stun Sakkari again, the draw would not get any easier for the Canadian No. 1 who could face seventh-seed Elena Rybakina in round four, potentially followed by world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the quarter-finals.

Leylah Annie Fernandez does not have a bye and plays Aliaksandra Sasnovich in round one. She would face 21st seed Donna Vekic in round two and could meet Swiatek in the fourth round.

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Gabriela Dabrowski will be competing in the doubles. The draw has not yet been announced.

Felix Auger-Aliassime is the lone Canadian man in the draw after Denis Shapovalov withdrew citing an injury. Auger-Aliassime is seeded 10th. The draw has yet to be revealed.

Swiatek and Novak Djokovic are the defending champions.  

The entire ATP Top 10 is competing in Rome, although once again notably absent is 10-time champion Rafael Nadal who is still out with a hip injury suffered at the Australian Open. It is the first time since 2004 that the King of Clay has missed all three clay-court Masters 1000 events, leaving his status for Roland-Garros very much up in the air. In 2004, he also missed the French Open.

Nine of the WTA’s Top 10 are in the draw, only missing Petra Kvitova.

Under the Radar: Fantastic Fung

While the Madrid Open saw the Canadians ultimately fall short, Stacey Fung was busy having a breakthrough on the ITF circuit.

The 26-year-old won the biggest title of her career last week, claiming the W40 title in Tbilisi, Georgia. All of her previous six ITF titles were W25 or lower.

Fung dropped just one set on her way to the crown, claiming it when her finals opponent retired after the Canadian took the first set. It is Fung’s second title of 2023 and seventh overall. She will look to double up in Georgia at a W25 event this week.

She was not the only Canadian to score some hardware last week, as Roy Stepanov also won his first career ITF title, claiming the doubles crown at the M15 in Orange Park, Florida, alongside American partner Vasil Kirkov.

Gabriel Diallo is competing on the ATP Challenger Tour this week in Busan, South Korea.

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.