Photo : Mauricio Paiz
While there was plenty to celebrate over the last week in Paris, Canadian tennis fans always had one eye on the week after Roland-Garros and a match two years in the making.
And it went about as well, if not better, than most would have hoped.
While the dust settles in the French capital, it’s on to the grass and one big Canadian has already made his presence known.
Here’s what you need to know.
What to Watch: Raonic’s comeback kicks off grass season
It was hard to believe Milos Raonic had been away from the tour for nearly two years as he caused a minor upset on Monday morning at the Libema Open in the Netherlands.
“The Missile” looked very much his old self as he took down fifth seed Miomir Kecmanovic in his first match since the second round of Atlanta in July 2021. The straight-set win was his first on the ATP Tour in over two years, the last one coming in Miami in 2021.
Raonic lost just three points when he landed his first serve and pounded 15 aces in a 6-3, 6-4 win. His next opponent will be either Jordan Thompson or qualifier Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard. Top seed Daniil Medvedev looms in the quarter-finals.
The draw is s-Hertogenbosch is strong and also includes Jannik Sinner, Borna Coric, and Alex de Minaur. Despite being unseeded, Raonic is still a threat at the tournament as his game is well-suited to grass, hence his choice of venue for a return to action. The Canadian has reached three grass-court finals in his career, most notably Wimbledon in 2016.
Felix Auger-Aliassime was originally scheduled to play at the Libema Open but withdrew. He was dealing with a shoulder injury in the lead up to and during Roland-Garros.
There are three Canadians in s-Hertogenbosch this week, the other two competing on the women’s side.
Like Raonic, Carol Zhao started off her tournament with a minor upset as she took down Ysaline Bonaventure, ranked 71 spots higher, in straight sets. Zhao got into the main draw by not dropping a set in qualifying.
Her reward is a meeting with top seed Veronika Kudermetova in round two.
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Bianca Andreescu is the sixth seed at the Libema Open and will face Zeynep Sonmez in the first round. A rematch with Victoria Azarenka of their Roland-Garros epic could take place in the quarter-finals. The Canadian is also in the top half of the draw with Kudermetova.
Denis Shapovalov is kicking off his grass-court season at the other ATP 250 event in Stuttgart this week. He plays Marton Fucsovics in the first round and could face 2022 Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios in round two. Second seed Taylor Fritz is his projected quarter-final opponent. Stefanos Tsitsipas is the top seed.
Rebecca Marino is bringing her big serve to the lawns of Nottingham for a WTA 250 event. She faces Harriet Dart in her first match on grass this year and could play fifth seed Anhelina Kalinina in round two. Second seed and Roland-Garros semifinalist Beatriz Haddad Maia could be waiting in the quarter-finals. Maria Sakkari is the top seed.
In Case You Missed It: Close Calls for Canada at Roland-Garros
Historically, the French Open has been one of the tougher majors for Canadians, but they looked for more comfortable on Paris’ dirt in 2023.
Despite no Canadians reaching the second week of the singles, three Canadians reached title matches at Roland-Garros this year.
Unfortunately, none were able to get their hands on the trophy despite all three finals going to deciding sets.
Bianca Andreescu was the first, becoming the first Canadian to reach a major final in both singles and doubles as she and Michael Venus reached the mixed doubles final, losing in a match tiebreak to Miyu Kato and Tim Puetz.
Leylah Annie Fernandez became the second Canadian to accomplish the same feat, reaching the women’s doubles final with Taylor Townsend. She and her American partner fell in a three-set heartbreaker to Su-Wei Hsieh and Wang Xinyu.
Between those two finals, Rob Shaw reached his second major quad wheelchair doubles final, where he also lost in a third-set supertiebreak.
Gabriela Dabrowski was eliminated from both women’s and mixed doubles by her countrywomen. She and Luisa Stefani fell in the third round to Fernandez and Townsend and the semifinals of the mixed with Nathanial Lammons to Andreescu and Venus.
The final results of the singles draws would not have shocked many, as Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek claimed the titles.
For Djokovic, it was a record-breaking 23rd major, making him the men’s all-time singles title leader, breaking a tie with Rafael Nadal.
Swiatek claimed her fourth major and third in Paris, successfully defending her title. She became the first woman to defend a Grand Slam singles title since Serena Williams won back-to-back Wimbledon titles in 2015 and 2016 and the first woman to defend the French Open title since Justine Henin won three straight from 2005 to 2007.
Under the Radar:
It was a solid week for the Canadians on the lower circuits, including two strong performances from Davis Cup champions Alexis Galarneau and Gabriel Diallo on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Galarneau reached his first Challenger semifinal of the season in Tyler, Texas. That marks two weeks in a row where he has reached at least the quarter-finals.
Diallo scored the biggest win of his career to date at the Surbiton Challenger on grass, taking down world No. 25 Dan Evans, ranked more the 110 spots ahead of the Canadian, in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals.
Victoria Mboko joined the party with a deep run of her own at an ITF W25 event in Portschach, Austria, reaching the semifinals where she lost to the eventual champion Weronika Falkowska.
All three are back in action this week, with Mboko upping her level at a W60 event.
Wheelchair tennis will be in the spotlight on home soil with the Janco Wheelchair Tennis Championships taking place in Grimsby, ON. A large Canadian contingent is competing.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.