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The 2022 tennis season has been interesting, for better or for worse. In the worst column, we saw 21-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic throw out two majors due to his refusal to get vaccinated, while the invasion of Ukraine resulted in Wimbledon being banned for Russian and Belarusian players. On the top side, Rafael Nadal took the record for men’s Grand Slam singles titles to 22, Carlos Alcaraz’s maiden Grand Slam trophy made the 19-year-old the youngest men’s No.1 in history , and Iga Swiatek became the dominant force in the women’s game winning eight titles, including a pair of Grand Slams. Plus, arguably the two greatest players of all time – Roger Federer and Serena Williams – said goodbye to sport (or so it seemed).
And we’re not done yet. With the season ending just weeks away, Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime is suddenly the hottest player in tennis, and he and other Canadians are gearing up to play in big events. Here’s what to know as a fascinating year of tennis draws to a close:
It could be a very big month for Felix.
The 22-year-old Canadian is heading into the Paris Masters indoor event on a serious streak. After back-to-back wins at lower-tier tournaments in Italy and Belgium where he didn’t face anyone in the top 25, Auger-Aliassime rose to class last week at the more competitive Swiss Indoors. He rose to the challenge by beating world Alcaraz in the semi-finals en route to winning his third tournament in a row. It took Felix’s winning streak to 13 games and lifted his world ranking to a career-high No. 8.
Another trophy this week in France would give Auger-Aliassime five tournament titles in 2022, tying Alcaraz at the top of the men’s season. It won’t be easy: Master-level tournaments only trail Grand Slams and the end-of-season ATP Finals in terms of prize money, ranking points and prestige, so they tend to attract the best players. With the exception of injured number 6 Alexander Zverev, everyone ranked ahead of Auger-Aliassime is here. It’s Alcaraz, Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Djokvoic.
WATCH | Canada’s Auger-Aliassime wins the Swiss Indoors:
But even if Felix’s winning streak comes to an end in Paris, he can still clinch his first-ever spot in the lucrative ATP Finals, starting Nov. 14 in Italy. Only eight players are invited to the championship, where the winner can earn up to US$4.7 million depending on how many matches they win (for comparison, the US Open champion only got “only” $2.6 million this year).
Felix is currently sixth in the points race for the season, but Djokovic, 10th, is assured of a place due to his Grand Slam victory at Wimbledon. The five players ahead of Felix also dropped out, leaving two places in the final up for grabs in Paris, the final regular stop on this year’s ATP Tour. Four men are still in contention for them, but Auger-Aliassime’s chances are very good. Even if he loses his opener on Wednesday to 74th-ranked Swede Mikael Ymer, the only way Auger-Aliassime will miss the ATP Finals is if eighth-placed Taylor Fritz wins the title and defeats Andrey Rublev, seventh, in the semi-finals. . Fritz qualified for the Round of 16 today while Rublev qualified for the Round of 16.
Also competing in Paris, Canada’s No. 16 Denis Shapovalov is not in contention to reach the ATP Finals. His first-round match was underway at press time.
The week following the ATP Finals, Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov will lead the Canadian team into the deciding leg of the Davis Cup Finals. In September, Auger-Aliassime stunned Alcaraz in singles action to propel Canada to victory over Spain in the group stage. While Spain still won the group, the victory helped Canada qualify for the eight-team knockout round, where they will face Germany on November 24.
Two key events remain in the women’s season — and Canada has an entry in both.
The WTA Finals kicked off yesterday in Fort Worth, Texas. No Canadians qualified for the eight-man singles tournament, but Gabriela Dabrowski has a good chance of winning the doubles. She and her Mexican teammate Giuliana Olmos are seeded No. 2 after winning two tournaments together this year. They play their first match of the group stage tonight at around 9:15 p.m. ET against the seventh-seeded duo of Anna Danilina (Kazakhstan) and Beatriz Haddad Maia (Brazil).
Dabruki will also play for Canada in the Billie Jean King Cup final next week in Scotland. She will be joined by Leylah Fernandez, Bianca Andreescu, Rebecca Marino and Carol Zhao. Team Canada’s group stage opponents are Italy (November 10) and Switzerland (November 11). The best team from each of the four groups advances to the semi-finals.