Is Canadian tennis entering a golden age?

Canadian tennis

When you think of sportsmen and women from Canada, your mind would naturally turn to winter sports. The Great White North has produced a number of fine athletes from the world of ice hockey and curling, reaching the peaks of their respective sports.

The mention of tennis two decades ago would raise eyebrows given the climate and the passion for the sport. However, that has changed drastically over the last 10 years, with Canada arguably boasting the four most impressive rising talents in the sport at the moment.

There has been an incredible transformation in the game, and although many will point to the breakthrough of Bianca Andreescu at the US Open in 2019 as the signature moment. Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic also put Canada on the tennis map to reach the final of Wimbledon in 2014 and 2016.

Bouchard was a trailblazer by reaching the final of the women’s event, having previously reached the semi-finals of the Australian and French Opens in the same campaign. She defeated a number of talented players to progress to the final, including Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep before losing out to Petra Kvitova in straight sets. At the age of 27, Bouchard’s career has flamed out, albeit she has had brief moments of joy on the court.

Raonic followed in the footsteps of Bouchard to reach the men’s final in 2016, producing an exceptional performance to overcome Roger Federer in five sets in the last four. However, he was only beaten by the excellence of Andy Murray, who was at the peak of his powers, at the All England Club to deny Canada their first Grand Slam champion.

Andreescu succeeded where her counterparts failed, but the groundwork performed by Bouchard and Raonic has opened the floodgates for Canadian tennis.

Andreescu and Fernandez

Andreescu was only 19 when she made the breakthrough that all Canadian tennis fans craved. She put forward a clinic in the 2019 US Open to reach the final, defeating Caroline Wozniacki, Elise Mertens and Belinda Bencic before facing the legendary Serena Williams in the final. The majority of people expected the 23-time Grand Slam champion to emerge with the victory, but it was the Canadian who rose to the occasion sublimely to defeat her prestigious opponent in straight sets.

Since her triumph at Flushing Meadows, Andreescu has struggled to find her form on the WTA Tour. The 21-year-old is still developing her game, but the fact that she has not been able to sustain her success will be a concern. Andreescu has not advanced beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam in four appearances, exiting in the first rounds of the French Open and Wimbledon in 2021. Time is on her side, but a return to form in 2022 would be welcome, beginning at the Australian Open where she is considered one of the top contenders in the tennis betting odds at +900 to win the crown.

Leylah Fernandez is right there with her compatriot. She could well have joined Andreescu as a US Open champion after reaching the final in 2021. The 19-year-old beat a host of modern-day greats of the women’s game, notably Naomi Osaka and Kerber, before losing out to Emma Raducanu in the final. However, the left-hander proved that she was more than capable of matching the best in the game, and if she maintains that standard of performance, then Grand Slam titles will surely follow.

Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov

Reaching the pinnacle of the men’s game has been a tough task over the last 20 years. Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have held an imperious stranglehold over the ATP Tour and the Grand Slams. Even when they have not been on form, Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka have been there to sweep up the remainder of the titles. Raonic grew up in the era of a number of stars and was unable to make the breakthrough. At the age of 30, he is not out of contention, but the new generation are seemingly in a stronger position to win titles.