Bianca Andreescu visited with staff at Tennis Canada and then gave a press conference at the Sobeys Stadium in Toronto, Ontario on Wednesday, September 11, 2019. (Photo by Peter Power)
All things considered, there was plenty of on-court success for our Canadian tennis stars in 2020. We watched exhilarating runs to finals, impressive comebacks from some of our biggest names as well as some surprise packages – and all of that in the midst of a global pandemic.
But as the holidays approach, we figure it’s time to turn our attention to what the 2021 season might bring.
COVID-19 continues to cause uncertainty around the world, making it difficult to make any clear-cut predictions. So instead, we’ve compiled a 2021 wish list for Canadian tennis…
1. As little disruption to the tennis season as is possible
The 2020 season started straightforward enough, then COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open in March and life – let alone tennis – was put on pause for several months. Despite the fact the virus continues to impact our daily lives, we’re hoping the tennis calendar can take something close to its normal form next year.
The ATP Tour recently released its schedule for the 2021 season – with the WTA soon to follow – and there are already some changes to the norm. However, we’re crossing our fingers that tennis can continue in the safest way possible and provide fans across the world a constant source of entertainment and much-needed escapism next year.
2. A successful return to the court for Bianca Andreescu
It’s crazy to think that Bianca Andreescu’s Rogers Cup presented by National Bank and US Open title wins both took place over a year ago. It feels like just yesterday – and at the same time, so long ago – that the confetti was flying at Arthur Ashe Stadium as she became the first Canadian Grand Slam singles champ.
Bianca hasn’t played since October of 2019 when she turned out at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, with injuries having forced her to watch from the sidelines throughout 2020. However, all signs are pointing to a comeback in early 2021 and we cannot wait to see her return to the court. Hopefully she can make up for lost time and enjoy a successful season on Tour.
3. Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup team to beat Serbia and reach Qualifiers
A disappointing loss to Switzerland in Biel earlier this year was made slightly easier to swallow thanks to Leylah Annie Fernandez’s shock win over then-World No. 5 Belinda Bencic. The defeat means Team Canada drop down into the Billie Jean King Cup Play-Offs, where they’ll face Serbia in April after the ITF confirmed the ties will be moved from February.
With the strength-in-depth available, there’s no reason why they can’t claim victory and return to the Qualifiers, earning them a shot at an appearance in the 2022 Finals in the process. That’s our wish for the team in 2021.
4. Canada to win the Davis Cup
They came oh so close in 2019, only to fall short to Rafael Nadal’s Spain in the inaugural Davis Cup Finals in Madrid – but we’re hoping Canada’s Davis Cup team can make more history in 2021 by lifting the coveted trophy for the very first time.
With the likes of Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil all potentially part of the roster, there’s every chance Team Canada can go one better than their tremendous effort last year and be crowned champions of the world.
5. A second (and third?) Canadian Grand Slam singles champion
It was so awesome watching Andreescu become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title in New York last year – and wouldn’t it be just glorious to see it happen again?
As the 20-year-old prepares for her comeback from injury and the likes of Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Fernandez continue their upward trajectories, it seems only a matter of time before Canada can celebrate another champion. Not forgetting that Milos Raonic, Genie Bouchard and Vasek Pospisil are all going extremely strong and Gabriela Dabrowski continues to excel in doubles.
6. Our tennis stars lead Canada to success at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games
Like many sporting events in 2020, the Olympic and Paralympic Games were forced to postpone into 2021. Undoubtedly one of the great sporting spectacles, the Games are always eagerly anticipated – and we feel there’s even more reason to be excited about them next year.
Along with the likes of Raonic, Bouchard, Andreescu, Pospisil, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov, Fernandez and Dabrowski – who all have a good chance of representing Canada and medaling should they do so – we also have a number of wheelchair athletes who are primed to succeed at the Games.
Coming off his 2019 Parapan Am gold medal, Rob Shaw is a particular name to look at for at the Paralympics as he sets his sights on a podium finish in 2021.
7. Rogers Cup presented by National Bank returns with aplomb
The postponement of the 2020 Rogers Cup presented by National Bank events in Toronto and Montreal was truly disappointing – albeit necessary. As Tennis Canada continues to plan for 2021, we couldn’t be more excited to welcome the starts of the ATP and WTA Tours to our respective cities in August. The thrill of watching the world’s best players on Canadian soil can’t be beaten and our wish is that next year’s events produce some of the best tennis ever seen on these shores.
And hey, if measures allow and it is safe enough to do so, wouldn’t it be brilliant to see fans back in Sobeys Stadium and IGA Stadium too?