Denis Shapovalov prepares to hit a smash. He and Felix Auger-Aliassime are competing this week in Auckland.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

The road to Melbourne continues to heat up and more Canadians get their seasons underway this week, including Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime in singles. 

After the country made its first appearance at the United Cup last week, the volume ramps up with Canadians in action on all levels of the tour as well as in qualifying at the Australian Open. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

In Case You Missed It: Canada’s Quick United Cup 

Canada made its debut at the United Cup last week, having missed the inaugural edition in 2023. After a strong start with a win over Chile, the Canadian squad was swept by Greece to see their campaign end in the Group Stage. 

Leylah Annie Fernandez went 2-1, winning her singles and mixed doubles matches, the latter with Steven Diez, against Chile, but lost to Maria Sakkari in the Greece tie. Diez lost both his men’s singles matches, while Felix Auger-Aliassime and Stacey Fung were defeated in the final mixed doubles match. 

Gabriela Dabrowski got her 2024 season underway with Erin Routliffe in Adelaide early this week but it was not the start that the US Open champions were hoping for as they were upset in the first round by Katerina Siniakova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich. 

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What to Watch: Boys are Back 

Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will both kick off their singles seasons this week at the ATP 250 event in Auckland. The top two Canadian men are both coming off injuries at the end of 2023. 

Read Also: Shapovalov, Diallo, Galarneau, and Pospisil to Represent Canada at the Davis Cup Qualifiers in Montreal

For Shapovalov, it will be his first event since reaching the round of 16 at Wimbledon. He meets seventh seed Sebastian Ofner in the first round. A win would see him face one of the Spanish Robertos, either Bautista Agut or Carballes Baena, in round two. Top seed Ben Shelton is his potential quarter-final opponent. 

Auger-Aliassime has not played singles since the Paris Masters last fall, although he looked solid in his United Cup mixed doubles match. He is seeded fourth in Auckland and has a first-round bye. His second-round opponent will be Daniel Altmaier and he could face No. 6 seed Arthur Fils in the quarter-finals.  

The Canadian No. 1 is in the bottom half of the draw with second seed Cameron Norrie. 

Under the Radar: Canadians in Australian Open Qualifying 

Qualifying for the first major of the year begins this week in Melbourne with five Canadians looking to clinch their place in the main draw of the Australian Open. 

The draw was unkind to the Canadian women, as only two of the four in the draw can qualify as they are all on collision courses with a countrywoman. 

Stacey Fung, who is making her first attempt at qualifying for a Grand Slam singles main draw, opens against 25th seed Julia Riera and could face fellow Canadian Carol Zhao, who kicks off her campaign against Valeria Savinykh, in the third and final round of qualies. 

Zhao could play third seed Katie Volynets in the second round. 

Katherine Sebov is looking to qualify for Australia for the second year in a row but starts against No. 9 seed Emiliana Arango and could face Rebecca Marino in the final round. Marino opens her big against Ya Yi Yang.  

Gabriel Diallo is the lone Canadian man in qualifying. He is seeded 29th and will face Pablo Llamas Ruiz in his opening match. He could face former world No. 7 and 2017 Australian Open quarter-finalist David Goffin in the final round.  

This will be Diallo’s second attempt at qualifying for the Australian Open. In 2023, he lost in the first round. His best run at qualifying for a major came last year at Wimbledon when he got to the second round. 

Read Also: Top ATP Stories of 2023

Diallo arrives in Melbourne following a semifinal run in his first event of the year at the ATP Challenger in Canberra, where he lost to the eventual champion Dominik Koepfer.  

Steven Diez will go from the United Cup to an ATP Challenger event in Thailand along with Kelsey Stevenson. There are contingents of Canadian women playing at ITF events in Naples, Florida and Fort-de-France, Martinique, while Rob Shaw kicks off his year on the wheelchair circuit at an ITF event in Melbourne. 

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.