Photo : Mauricio Paiz
If Indian Wells really is tennis’ “fifth slam,” then the first five days of the BNP Paribas Open were a good reflection of the Canadian’s ability to bring their A-game to the biggest events.
Every draw in Indian Wells has seen some degree of success for Canada’s biggest stars, but the difficulty is ramping up very early in the week.
Here’s what you need to know.
In Case You Missed It: Double delight for Auger-Aliassime and Fernandez
Of the six Canadians who made the trip to sunny California this week, five are still in the tournament in at least one draw.
Félix Auger-Aliassime is still alive in two competitions having reached the third round of singles with a win over Pedro Martinez following a bye and the quarter-finals of the doubles alongside countryman Denis Shapovalov. The All-Canadian pair defeated Holger Rune and Ben Shelton in the first round before getting a walkover in round two.
Shapovalov lost his opening singles match to Ugo Humbert.
Like her fellow Quebecer, Leylah Annie Fernandez is also still alive in both singles and doubles. She defeated Emma Navarro in straight sets in her opening singles match and teamed up with Taylor Townsend for a first-round win in doubles.
Bianca Andreescu had mixed results. She battled through a tough opening singles match against Peyton Stearns but dropped her first-round doubles match with Yulia Puntintseva to the eight seeds Nicole Melichar Martinez and Ellen Perez.
Gabriela Dabrowski reunited with her former partner Luisa Stefani this week in Indian Wells and started off with a first-round win. The pair, who won the National Bank Open together in 2021 and the WTA 250 event in Chennai last year, are unseeded this week.
The lone Canadian eliminated outright from Indian Wells was Rebecca Marino. She was the only Canadian singles player without a bye and lost her first-round match to Marketa Vondrousova.
Overall, the singles competitions have been relatively undramatic through the early rounds of the 12-day event.
On the women’s side, nine of the Top 10 seeds are still in the tournament, with only No. 9 Belinda Bencic bowing out in the second round. The bottom half of the men’s draw has been a little more chaotic with the second and third seeds, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud, both crashing out before the week flipped.
What to Watch: Can the Canadians Cause Some Upsets?
All three Canadians still alive in singles are in action on Monday, with the two women facing serious challengers.
No one has a tougher round-three task than Bianca Andreescu, who has to deal with the dominant world No. 1 Iga Świątek. The Pole won their lone previous match last year in Rome on clay.
Leylah Annie Fernandez does not have it much easier as she takes on the fifth seed Caroline Garcia, who knocked the Canadian out of the Australian Open in January. However, that was a highly competitive clash that should give Fernandez reason to believe she can change the result on the other side of the ocean.
If either woman can get past their Top 5 opponent in round three, they would both have a good shot at making a deep run in Indian Wells. Andreescu would play either 13th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia or Emma Raduncanu in the last sixteen, while Fernandez would face an unseeded opponent, either Bernardo Pera or Sorana Cirstea.
Andreescu and Fernandez could meet in the quarter-finals.
Auger-Aliassime also has an Australian Open rematch, only this time of an opponent he defeated in Melbourne. He will meet 27th-seed Francisco Cerundolo, who the Canadian beat in four sets in Australia, in the third round.
A win would set up a fourth-round clash with either ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz or No. 17 seed Tommy Paul. Looming could be a quarter-final clash with top seed Carlos Alcaraz, who remains in contention to reclaim the No. 1 ranking this week.
In doubles, Fernandez’s draw is even tougher than her singles matchup as she and Taylor Townsend will face the top seeded pair of Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova.
Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani play the unseeded pair of Alexa Guarachi and Erin Routliffe in round two and could face second seed Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula in the quarter-finals.
The All-Canadian duo of Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will play Rohan Bopanna, Shapovalov’s former partner, and Matthew Ebden in the quarter-finals. They are in the bottom half of the draw where all the seeded teams have been eliminated.
Under the Radar:
There was to be no repeat of Katherine Sebov’s victory on home soil in Toronto last week as the Canadians came up short at the ITF W25 event in Fredericton.
Stacey Fung was the defending champion but lost in the semifinals to fifth seed Himeno Sakatsume. Czech Gabriela Knutson won the title.
Canadian lucky loser Martyna Ostrzygalo also reached the quarter-finals.
The ITF men’s tour landed in Canada this week as well with an M25 event in Montreal and they got a local champion, with Canada’s Juan Carlos Aguilar claiming the doubles title alongside Brit Joe Tyler.
Aguilar also reached the singles quarter-finals, as did countryman Benjamin Sigouin.
A second M25 event is taking place this week in Montreal, where Davis Cup champion Gabriel Diallo is the top seed.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.