After multiple strong showings at the US Open in New York last month, expectations and hopes were high among the Canadian contingent of tennis stars seeking a title at Roland-Garros next weekend in Paris.
On the men’s side, newly ranked top-ten player Denis Shapovalov was joined by countrymen Felix Auger Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil. Meanwhile, a resurgent Genie Bouchard––who reached her first final of a tournament since 2016 two weeks ago in Istanbul––joined 18-year-old rising star Leylah Annie Fernandez in the women’s draw.
Unfortunately for Auger Aliassime and Pospisil, their singles runs ended before they really began, as both men were ousted in straight sets in the first round. Auger Aliassime (19th seed), took on unseeded Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, dropping the match 7-5, 6-3, 6-3, while Pospisil (unseeded) drew a difficult first round opponent in 7th seed Italian Matteo Berrettini, losing 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
Denis Shapovalov managed to qualify for the second round after dispatching of Frenchman Gilles Simon in four sets 6-2, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, but he too would see his tournament come to an abrupt finish in round two.
After trading sets with opponent Roberto Carballés Baena (5-7, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3), Shapovalov dropped a heartbreaker of a fifth set by a score of 8-6, as the match went exactly five hours, but it wasn’t without controversy. Up 5-4 and serving for the match in the deciding set, Shapovalov was on the receiving end of a shot from Baena that clearly sailed long but was called in by the umpire.
Roland-Garros is the one major tournament that doesn’t use HawkEye technology to overturn manual calls when challenged by the player, due to the ability to visibly see ball marks left on the court. Unfortunately for Shapovalov, the umpire’s eyes didn’t pass the HawkEye test, and Shapovalov was unable to appeal to the technology.
So, instead of setting up double match point, he found himself tied at 30-30, before losing the game and ultimately the match. Following the match, he wasn’t afraid to take his frustrations out on Twitter, protesting about the lack of HawkEye at the tournament.
Despite the abundance of poor singles results, British Columbia’s Vasek Pospisil still had his eyes on the doubles title after defeating the Shapovalov/Bopanna tandem in straight sets in the first round on Thursday. However, Pospisil and teammate Jack Sock (USA) were ousted in the second round earlier this morning by the 6th seeded Mahut/Herbert duo.
Pospisil and Sock won the Wimbledon title together in 2014, but have failed to advance beyond the quarterfinals at another major since the 2016 Australian Open.
Sadly for Canada, their luck has also run out on the women’s side of the draw, as young gun Leylah Annie Fernandez lost her third round matchup to two-time Wimbledom champion and 7th seed Petra Kvitova. After back-to-back three set victories against Magda Linette and Palona Hercog, Ferndandez ran into too tough of an opponent, losing in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.
Fernandez came out of the gate hot, jumping out to a quick 4-1 lead with a break-point to extend the lead to 5-1 and serve for the first set. Kvitova found her game though, going on to win 6 of the next 7 games to take the first set, and eventually the match.
As for Genie Bouchard, she found herself in the third round of a major earlier this week for the first time since Wimbledon in 2016. The former world number 5 surged into the third round after impressive victories over Anna Kalinskaya and Daria Gavrilova in rounds one and two, respectively.
Like Fernandez, Bouchard fell short in the third round as she lost to 19-year-old Iga Świątek by a score of 6-3, 6-2. Still, Bouchard’s stock has risen dramatically over the last two months, having climbed from her world ranking of 330 in early August to 168 at present.
After two grand slams in quick succession, the tennis season will take a break with the major tournaments before the 2021 Australian Open kicks off in mid-January. Despite the struggles on the men’s side, Canada hopes to put on a better performance down under in three months’ time, where they’ll hope to see a well-rested Milos Raonic, who elected to withdraw from the French Open last month.
Meanwhile, Fernandez and Bouchard will hope to build on their encouraging performances, as top-ranked Canadian Bianca Andreescu has already announced her absence from the Australian Open due to injury. Andreescu, 20, is currently the 7th ranked woman in the world, but has battled with injuries since her 2019 US Open title.