Leylah Fernandez with her runners-up trophy from the 2021 US Open final

Photo: camerawork usa

With 2022 just a few days away, here’s my humble contribution to the reviews of the past year in tennis.

My Tennis Canada colleagues have compiled their 2021 highlights, which you’ll find here:

Top 10 Canadian Moments (10-6)

Top 10 Canadian Moments (5-1)

  • WTA player of the year

Ashleigh Barty, who spent the entire 12 months at World No.1 with a 42–8 record (84%), added five titles to her trophy case, including the Venus Rosewater Dish.

Honourable mention: Barbora Krejcikova. Her 45–19 record (70%) and first three titles, including Roland-Garros, gave her a spectacular boost from No.65 to No.5.

  • ATP player of the year

After waffling over who to choose, I went with Novak Djokovic, if only because he came this close to a Calendar Slam. He fought in seven finals, won five titles including three Slams and racked up a 55–7 record (89%) to close out the year at No.1 for a record seventh time.

Honourable mention: Daniil Medvedev, the reason why I hesitated. While Djokovic’s tennis waned after Wimbledon, Medvedev put the pedal to the metal. He finished with a 63–13 record (83%) and four titles, including his first Slam, was the runner-up at the ATP Finals and secured the Davis Cup crown for Russia.

  • Highlight of the year in the WTA

Emma Raducanu, who battled through the qualifying event and main draw of the US Open without dropping a single set in 10 matches to raise the winner’s trophy, is the undisputed highlight of the past season in women’s tennis.

  • Highlight of the year in the ATP

Novak Djokovic staged yet another signature comeback at Roland-Garros. In his masterclass on resilience, he schooled Stefanos Tsitsipas and clawed his way back from a two-set deficit, 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

  • Most impressive jump in the WTA rankings

Simple math means the honour goes to Emma Raducanu, who moved up 326, from No.345 to No.19. That’s a whopping 315 spots between June 27 and September 12.

Honourable mention: Leylah Fernandez, who ascended to World No.24 from No.88 (64 places).

  • Most impressive jump in the ATP rankings

Jenson Brooksby, who advanced 254 spots from No.338 to No.23, wins in this category.

Honourable mention: Carlos Alcaraz, who jumped 109 places, from No.141 to No.32.

  • Breakout player of the year in the WTA

Emma Raducanu, see above.

Honourable mention: Leylah Fernandez, see above.

  • Breakout player of the year in the ATP

Casper Ruud of Norway was unstoppable. He rose from No.22 to No.8, played in six finals and collected five titles, including three back-to-back-to-back ATP 250 crowns. His record is 57–17 (77%).

Honourable mention: Cameron Norrie, who started out at No.74 and finished the year at No.12, competed in four finals and won two.

  • Favourite tennis moment in the WTA

Leylah Fernandez—young, feisty, talented and so mature at only 19 years old. Born after the events of 2001, she was still empathetic and insightful enough to add these few words in her on-court interview after her loss in the US Open final on September 11: “I know, on this day, it was especially hard for New York and everyone around the United States. I just want to say that I hope I can be as strong and as resilient as New York has been the past 20 years.” Relive the amazing moment here.

  • Favourite tennis moment in the ATP

Equally mature and brilliant is Félix Auger-Aliassime. At the US Open, in his post-match interview on ESPN after defeating Frances Tiafoe of the US at Arthur Ashe Stadium, he acknowledged how significant the match was, far beyond tennis. “We’ve come a long way, Frances and I,” he said. “Our families have tough backgrounds, both of us. So, for us to be able to be here today to bring new faces to tennis, to inspire hopefully kids in New York but also all over the world, people watching, I hope we’ll see many new faces in the future in tennis. I’m happy Frances and I can be part of that group inspiring others.”

Felix shakes hands with Frances Tiafoe at the US Open 2021
Photo : camerawork usa

Happy New Year, tennis fans! Health and happiness to all!

Email: privard@tenniscanada.com

Twitter: @paul6rivard

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