Photo : Camerawork USA
Lots of history was made in the tennis world last week, from a revamped version of a historic event to one of the all-times greats further staking his claim to being the greatest of all time.
And plenty of Canadian content too to keep the home fans entertained.
Here is what you need to know:
In Case You Missed It: Russia rules in Prague, more history for Djokovic
Billie Jean King Cup
If you can’t win a championship, at least be beaten by the best.
Team Canada presented by Sobeys can feel good about their performance at the inaugural Billie Jean King Cup Finals last week as they finished second in their group and can take solace in the fact that the team that won it won the entire event.
Canada shocked the world in their opening tie by upsetting the defending champions France courtesy of a big singles win by Francoise Abanda and a dominant doubles victory by Gabriela Dabrowski and Rebecca Marino.
However, they could not pull of a second as they were swept by the Russian Tennis Federation on day two.
The Russians went on to win the event, beating Switzerland in the final. They only dropped two matches and five total sets, one of which was Marino winning the second set against Roland Garros runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, on their way to the title.
While the Billie Jean King Cup Finals were a first on the women’s tour, there was nothing particularly new happening on the men’s tour at the Rolex Paris Masters.
Novak Djokovic won again.
The victory in Paris was still significant for the Serb, as in doing so he clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record seventh time, breaking a tie with Pete Sampras for the most ever.
It was also his 37th Masters 1000 title, which gives him back the lead in the race with Rafael Nadal for most titles at that level. He also got a measure of revenge for his failed Grand Slam bid by beating Daniil Medvedev in the final.
What to Watch: Shapovalov looks to go back-to-back
All eyes this week will be on the Canadians in the Swedish capital as both Denis Shapovalov and Félix Auger-Aliassime are competing, but there is more than usual on the line for the former.
The last time the Stockholm Open was played, it was Shapovalov lifting the trophy, his first and to-date only title, back in 2019. Since the tournament was cancelled in 2020, the Canadian is the defending champion and will look to go back-to-back.
Standing in his way is his countryman Auger-Aliassime, who could set up a Clash of Canadians in the semi-finals as the pair both find themselves on the bottom half of the draw.
In order to meet in the final four, Shapovalov may have to get past sixth seed Alexander Bublik, while Auger-Aliassime will need to put away the man Shapovalov beat for the title in 2019, Filip Krajinovic, and seventh seed Marton Fucsovics.
Jannik Sinner is the top seed.
Canada will be represented this year in doubles at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, as Sharon Fichman will be competing alongside partner Giuliana Olmos.
It will be Fichman’s first time competing at the WTA Finals, having qualified in the eighth and final spot. She and Olmos won the Italian Open in May and reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open back in February.
Fichman and Olmos will have their hands full with the difficult competition in Guadalajara as only the best qualify for the WTA Finals. The field includes French Open and Olympic champions Barbora Krejcikova, who qualified in both singles and doubles, and Katerina Siniakova, Wimbledon champions Elise Mertens and Su-Wei Hsieh, and US Open champions Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai.
In other events this week, Emma Raducanu and Simona Halep lead the field in the only regular WTA tour stop in Linz, Austria.
The ATP NextGen Finals are taking place in Milan, but will be without its top two players, Sinner and Auger-Aliassime, both of whom chose the regular tour event in Stockholm instead. As a result, Carlos Alcaraz is the top seed and overwhelming favourite.
Under the Radar
Last week at the M15 ITF event in Ithaca, NY, Canada’s Joshua Peck reached the doubles final.
For the second week in a row, there is a large contingent of Canadians at a Challenger event in the United States. Vasek Popisil, Peter Polansky and Brayden Schnur, who reached the semi-finals last week in Charlottesville, are all in the main draw of the Knoxville Challenger, while Alexis Galarneau was competing in qualifying.
Steven Diez will be competing at the ATP Challenger event in Roanne, France.
Two members of Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup team return to action on the ITF tour this week with both Abanda and Carol Zhao in action.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.