Leylah Fernandez waves to the crowd.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Backing up a strong run at a Grand Slam event is always a big challenge and already the Canadians who did well at Roland-Garros in 2022 have suffered opposing fates.

But with the second major of the year underway, the one who is still standing has a great opportunity to make another run on the red clay of Paris.

Here’s what you need to know.

What to Watch: Draw Opening Up for Fernandez

The Canadian facing the most daunting task at Roland-Garros coming in was Leylah Annie Fernandez, who had quarter-finalist points to defend but arrived in Paris with a 3-4 record on the red dirt in 2023 and had a tough draw, having to face Australian Open semifinalist Magda Linette in the first round.

But two days into the season’s second major and Fernandez suddenly has a great opportunity to make a run at the French Open. She upset Linette in their first-round clash and her section of the draw has collapsed. Only one seed, No. 27 Irina-Camelia Begu, remains in the Canadian’s section and they could not meet until the fourth round, meaning Fernandez has a good opportunity to defend her 2022 points.

Next up for Fernandez is Clara Tauson. Her third-round match would against either local wildcard Leolia Jeanjean or lucky loser Elina Avanesyan, who upset 12th seed Belinda Bencic in the first round.

She is so far joined in the second round by Denis Shapovalov, who pulled off a gritty round-one win against Brandon Nakashima. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Rebecca Marino both lost their first-round matches on Monday.

Shapovalov faces Matteo Arnaldi in the second round, with top seed Carlos Alcaraz potentially looming in round three.

Bianca Andreescu will kick off her campaign on Tuesday but got no luck with the draw as she will face 18th seed Victoria Azarenka. A win would see her face either Erika Andreeva or Emma Navarro. Her next two matches could be against the last two Roland-Garros champions, 2021 winner Barbora Krejcikova in round three followed by top seed and defending champion Iga Swiatek in round four.

This is the first French Open since 2004 without Rafael Nadal in the men’s singles draw. As a result, there are only two former champions in the men’s draw: Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka. Djokovic, the third seed, could meet Alcaraz in a highly-anticipated semifinal.

In Case You Missed It: Welcome Back Mama Svitolina

Two Canadians used the week before Roland-Garros to get a few more matches in. Both Felix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Annie Fernandez picked up match wins ahead of the Slam, but both went out in their second match.

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Auger-Aliassime only contested one match, picking up his first win on clay in 2023 over Pablo Llamas Ruiz in straight sets in Lyon before withdrawing prior to his quarter-final with Arthur Fils, who went on to win the title, citing a shoulder injury.

Fernandez beat Angela Fita Baluda in the first round of Rabat before falling to Peyton Stearns in the second round.

The big story of the week came in Strasbourg, where Elina Svitolina won her first title since giving birth last October. Adding to the drama was that the Ukrainian’s victory came at the expense of a Russian opponent, Anna Blinkova. Svitolina is donating her prize money from the event to Ukrainian children.

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

Under the Radar:

Canada was well represented at the NCAA championships last weekend, with Layne Sleeth reaching the singles final for Oklahoma.

Juan Carlos Aguilar’s big year on the ITF circuit continued as the Canadian picked up his fourth doubles title of the season at the M15 event in Tabasco, Mexico. It was Aguilar’s ninth ITF doubles title overall.

This week, Alexis Galarneau and Kelsey Stevenson are both competing at and ATP Challenger event in Little Rock, Arkansas, while a trio of Canadian women are playing at an ITF W40 in Slovenia.

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.