Photo : @denis_shapo
Everyone has a favourite season. Someone would have to ask him to be sure, but based on his tennis, Denis Shapovalov appears to be a fall person.
It seems as though every year as the leaves start to turn red, the Canadian starts to find his best tennis. That was the case last week when he was at his flashy best to kick off an abbreviated 2022 ATP Asian Swing.
Here’s what you need to know:
In Case You Missed It: Shapovalov finding his A-game
While many big-name players struggle in the post-US Open period, often due to wear and tear at the end of a long season, Denis Shapovalov has often flourished in the final months of the year.
Of the five finals he has reached in his career, four have come after the season’s final major. The fifth such final was last week at the Korea Open in Seoul.
It was a strong week for the Canadian No. 2, as he tore through the field on his way to the final without dropping a set. However, he was beaten in the title match by Yoshihito Nishioka, who beat three seeds, Shapovalov, No. 1 Casper Ruud and No. 5 Dan Evans, on his way to his second career title.
Still, reaching the Seoul final was Shapovalov’s best result of 2022 and was his first title match in almost a year.
Vasek Pospisil also had a season-best result last week, reaching the quarter-finals of the Tel Aviv Open.
Not only did Pospisil reach the last eight of a tour-level event for only the second time in 2022, he gave the eventual champion Novak Djokovic all he could handle in their quarter-final clash, pushing the top seed for two hours before Djokovic finished him off.
Pospisil got into the draw as a lucky loser and upset eighth seed Tallon Griekspoor in the first round. He then beat Edan Leshem in straight sets to set the Djokovic clash. The 7-6(5), 6-3 win for Djokovic was his toughest during the event.
The Serb went on to beat Marin Cilic for the title.
There was a first-time champion on the ATP Tour last week, with Marc-Andrea Huesler claiming the title in Sofia, Bulgaria by defeating Holger Rune in the final.
On the WTA Tour, the final clay court crown was won by Mayar Sherif, who upset world No. 7 Maria Sakkari to claim her first career title at the Parma Ladies Open in Italy.
In the process, Sherif became the first woman from Egypt to win a title on the WTA Tour.
Sakkari was the heavy favourite at the event as the only Top 25 player in the draw but struggled early, needing to rally from a set down in each of her first three matches. She was beaten by Sherif in the final in straight sets.
At the Tallinn Open in Estonia, Barbora Krejcikova broke the hearts of the host nation by defeating home favourite Anett Kontaveit in straight sets to claim her first title of the season. Krejcikova defeated the top two seeds back-to-back to take the title.
The semifinals in Tallinn delighted the home crowd, as Kontaveit defeated Kaia Kanepi in an all-Estonian semi.
What to Watch: Deep fields across the tours
It’s a loaded week on both tours with three 500 events, two on the ATP Tour and one on the WTA, featuring many of the world’s best players.
Carlos Alcaraz will be competing in his first ATP Tour event as the world No. 1 this week at the Astana Open, although he will have his hands full in the first round against David Goffin.
The field in Astana is incredibly strong and features six of the world’s Top 10 including Alcaraz, Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Djokovic, Andrey Rublev, and Hubert Hurkacz.
Félix Auger-Aliassime was also competing in Astana, but fell victim to an unkind draw and was beaten by Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round.
Denis Shapovalov will look to carry his good form into the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships where he is the seventh seed. He opens against American Steven Johnson and is in the same quarter as Cincinnati champion Borna Coric.
Casper Ruud is the top seed in Tokyo, headlining a draw that also includes Taylor Fritz, Nick Kyrgios, Frances Tiafoe, Alex de Minaur and the Seoul Champion Yoshihito Nishioka.
The Agel Open 2022 in Ostrava, Czech Republic features a powerhouse WTA 500 draw that includes four of the world’s Top 10.
World No. 1 Iga Świątek is competing in her first event since winning the US Open. She is joined by Paula Badosa, Anett Kontaveit and Maria Sakkari.
Ostrava features the lone Canadian woman competing on the main tour this week, as Eugenie Bouchard managed to qualify for the main draw and will meet sixth seed Belinda Bencic in the first round.
Other big names in the Ostrava draw include Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, National Bank Open runner-up Beatriz Haddad Maia, World No. 11 Daria Kasatkina, and major champions Petra Kvitova, Jelena Ostapenko, Barbora Krejcikova, Victoria Azarenka, and Emma Raducanu, who meets Kasatkina in a blockbuster first-round clash.
Ons Jabeur gets the chance to play in front of her home crowd this week in Tunisia, as she is the top seed at the Jasmin Open Monastir, at 250 event. She is joined by world No. 12 Veronika Kudermetova and the persistent Alize Cornet in Monastir.
Under the Radar:
Christian Lakoseljac was the only Canadian to reach the quarter-finals of a singles event on the ITF Tour last week, getting to the last eight in Albuquerque.
Several Canadian men are competing in ATP Challenger events this week, including Davis Cup team member Alexis Galarneau at the Tiburon Challenger in the United States.
There is also a large Canadian contingent at the ITF M15 event in Ithica, New York, where nine Canadian men are competing.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.