Tennis Prose



Canada Did Not Become A Tennis Superpower

Rhythm. Serve motion. Hitting all the spots with one toss.

By Scoop Malinowski

A couple of years ago Canada looked in position to become the premier tennis superpower. With the dynamic, explosive and fast-rising Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov and the accomplished veteran Milos Raonic leading the way, the North American nation could have taken over the ATP.

But the balance of power never shifted. Felix has seemed to stagnate at age 21 and is ranked no. 9. He’s only won one ATP singles title so far. Denis Shapovalov has also flatlined and his results have faltered lately after the early sensation promise. The 22 year old is now ranked 21 after a career high of no. 10 two years ago. Shapovalov has won one ATP singles title.

“I thought Felix and Shapovalov would have done better results by now, like winning a Grand Slam or playing in Grand Slam finals,” Marcelo Melo told me in Newport a couple of weeks ago. “I think Shapovalov is the better player.”

Raonic has also been a disappointment though his slide down the rankings and out of ATP relevance has been due to chronic injuries, particularly the achilles tendon which has essentially frozen his career. The 31 year old winner of ten ATP titles and a former Grand Slam finalist has not played an ATP match since losing to Brandon Nakashima in Atlanta one year ago, 75 36 67. At that time Raonic was ranked 22 in the world, now he’s ranked 572.

The women players for Canada have also suffered mysterious falloffs. Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has not achieved anything of note in years though she has been bothered by injuries. Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard has also faded into oblivion and despite hard work with various coaches like Rennae Stubbs, Michael Joyce, Agassi/Graf/Reyes and others, she has not been able to regain her lost status. Bouchard has still not returned to competition after a shoulder surgery last year. She was slated to play Wimbledon this year but decided to withdraw.

The best bright light lately has been Leylah Annie Fernandez who shocked the world by playing in last year’s US Open final and she may be the best Canadian hope to win a Grand Slam singles title. But her results since last September have also been on the average side. And compounding her troubles was a stress fracture in her foot earlier this year which she still has not returned from though she resumed practicing this week in Miami.

Yes there is plenty of time for Felix, Denis and Leylah to catch fire again and show the sensational form that had many pundits calculating Grand Slam titles. And Milos Raonic certainly may have two or three or four last hurrahs left in his Wilson racquet, if he can regain full health and fitness. Andreescu too is another special talent and still in her early 20s, surely capable of returning to the grand stages of professional tennis.

But there is also the lingering concern, Tennis Canada has peaked – and squandered their chance to establish global dominion like Spain, USA, and Australia once accomplished.

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  • Matt Segel · August 8, 2022 at 8:21 pm

    Most difficult first round match possible shapo v. De minotaur. Weird how top two players outside of seeded players can play each other in first round

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 9, 2022 at 8:34 am

    Maybe Tennis Canada doesn’t like Shapovalov so much?



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