Felix Auger-Aliassime prepares to his a slice backhand.

Photo : Mauricio Paiz

As the first Asian swing of the 2020s moves along, it is taking a bit of time for the Canadians to get used to playing in the far east. 

Last week did not go well for the Canadians competing, but that was just a warm-up for the much bigger events taking place this week. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

In Case You Missed It: Slow Start in the Far East 

When it rains, it pours and no one understands that better than Felix Auger-Aliassime at the moment. 

2023 on the whole and especially the last few months have been unkind to the Canadian and the ATP 500 event in Beijing was no different as he drew world No. 4 Holger Rune in the first round. 

In a battle of players who have been having a rough go, it was the Dane playing a bit cleaner and a bit more efficiently to hand Auger-Aliassime his eighth opening-match loss in his last 10 events. 

The field in Beijing lived up to the hype, with Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Jannik Sinner reaching the semifinals. 

Over in Tokyo, Gabriela Dabrowski suffered a surprise loss in her opening match with Erin Routliffe. The US Open champions were the top seeds but were competing soon after making the trip across the Pacific from Guadalajara.  

They were upset by local favourites Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya, who went on to reach the final. 

There were some surprises in the singles draw in Tokyo as well, as Veronika Kudermetova won the title, defeating Iga Swiatek and Jessica Pegula on her way to victory. 

*(Year-to-date titles/career titles) 

What to Watch: Asian Swing Ups the Ante 

The last WTA 1000 event of the year is taking place this week in Beijing, having got underway on Saturday. 

Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe will look to bounce back as the fourth seeds in the doubles draw. They are in the top half with No. 1 seeds Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens, who recently beat them in the Guadalajara final. 

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Aryna Sabalenka is making her debut as the world No. 1. She won a blockbuster in the first round over former major champion Sofia Kenin. Iga Swiatek, who is seeded second in the singles, will not be the top seed at a tournament for the first time since the Miami Open in March 2022. Coco Gauff will be playing her first event since becoming a Grand Slam champion at the US Open. 

Nine of the world’s Top 10 are competing in Beijing, with only No. 9 Karolina Muchova absent. 

There are no Canadians in the singles main draw in Beijing. Both Leylah Annie Fernandez and Rebecca Marino lost in the first round of qualifying. 

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Over in Shanghai, the men return to the Asian Masters 1000 event for the first time since 2019. The event gets underway on Wednesday. 

Felix Auger-Aliassime is the lone Canadian in the draw. He is seeded 14th and will open against either a qualifier or Marton Fucsovics after a bye. He could play 20th seed Francisco Cerundolo in the third round and is in the bottom section with No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev. Potential quarter-final opponents include No. 6 Jannik Sinner, No. 9 Alexander Zverev, and US Open semifinalist Ben Shelton. 

Steven Diez is also still alive in qualifying. 

Carlos Alcaraz is the top seed, as world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is skipping the event. Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic are both not making the trip. 

For the second week in a row, the ATP events started mid-week and will wrap up early this week. The men’s Beijing event played it’s quarter-finals on Monday, with the final to be played on Wednesday. Over in Astana, Kazakhstan, the final will be played on Tuesday. 

Under the Radar: Dominant Draxl 

While it was a disappointing week on the main tours, Canada had reason to celebrate as Liam Draxl won the title at the M15 event in Albuquerque, NM in dominant fashion. 

Draxl, the second seed at the event, did not drop a set in five matches. He opened the tournament with a double bagel win and capped off the run with a 6-0, 6-2 victory in the final against an American qualifier William Grant. 

It is the fourth ITF singles title of Draxl’s career and his second victory of 2023.  

Layne Sleeth was the top Canadian woman on the ITF circuit last week, reaching the semifinals of the W25 event in Hilton Head, SC. She did not drop a set on her way to the final four, dishing out a pair of bagels and taking down second seed Chieh-Yu Hsu with the loss of just three games in the quarter-finals. 

Read also: Introducing The U15 Canadian Prospect Team

It was the first ITF semifinal since 2019 for Sleeth, who plays in the NCAA

A couple of events to keep an eye on this week include the ATP Challenger in Tiburon, California where five Canadians are competing including Davis Cup team members Alexis Galarneau, Vasek Pospisil, and Kelsey Stevenson. 

There are large Canadian contingents at the W60 event in Rome and M15 in Ithica, NY. 

On Canadian soil, there is an ITF Wheelchair event in Fredericton, NB. 

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here