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Monday Digest: Olympic Tennis gets underway

Jul 26, 2021
written by: Tennis Canada
written by: Tennis Canada

Must Watch: Tokyo Olympics tennis tournaments

Djokovic’s quest

Novak Djokovic, who has won the first three majors of the year, is seeking to replicate a feat only achieved by German Steffi Graf: winning the Calendar Grand Slam and the Olympic Gold.

The rare achievement was completed in 1988 by the 22-time Grand Slam champion, and is commonly known as the Golden Slam. A player must win all four majors and the Olympic gold in the same year to complete it.

In addition, the Serb will look to join also Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, and Andre Agassi to win the Career Golden Slam, which consists of winning all four majors and the Olympic gold on the course of a career.

Tough women’s singles draw

While World No. 1 and Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty was ousted in the first round of the Olympics, the women’s competition is fierce.

Coming back from a break, World No. 2 Naomi Osaka is cruising through her section of the draw. The local favourite, Osaka received the honour of lighting the Olympic Cauldron in the opening ceremony, and is looking to add a gold medal on home soil to her four major titles.

The Osaka-native could face World No. 9 Iga Swiatek’s conqueror Spaniard Paula Badosa in the quarter-finals.

Fourth-round battles to watch are: Roland Garros Champion Barbora Krejcikova vs. No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic, Sara Sorribes Tormo, who beat Barty, vs. Roland Garros finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina vs. No. 14 seed Maria Sakkari.

Mixed doubles Canada’s final hope of a medal in tennis

The Canadian tennis team fought hard in their Olympics run, but it was not to be for singles players Félix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Fernandez, and doubles team Gabriela Dabrowski and Sharon Fichman. Fernandez was the only one to get through the first round, but was stopped by an in-form Barbora Krejcikova.

leylah fernandez hits a forehand at the olympics
Photo : Kopatsch/Sato/Sidorjak

However, this is not the end of Canada’s hopes for an Olympic medal in tennis. Auger-Aliassime and Dabrowski will still fight for glory in the mixed doubles competition, set to start this week. The draw is yet to be announced.

Canadians in action

Raonic top seed in Atlanta

In his first tournament appearance since the Miami ATP Masters 1000 in May, World No. 22 Milos Raonic is back on North-American soil in Atlanta this week. This will be the Canadian’s first time playing the tournament in Georgia.

Raonic had been sidelined with a calf injury that kept him out of competition for most of the spring and summer, having most notably missed Wimbledon, his most successful Grand Slam where he reached finals in 2016 (l. Andy Murray)

Marino and Zhao play in Charleston

Carol Zhao and Rebecca Marino have been accepted into the Charleston WTA125 main draw under a special ranking.

The two Canadian women last played in Evansville, IN in an ITF 25k event where Marino went on to win the tournament. Zhao fell in the second round.

The Billie Jean King Cup partners have performed well this year so far. 30-year-old Marino has compiled a 16-10 record in 2021, with highlights being Canada’s second win at the Billie Jean King cup in February against Team Serbia and the ITF 25k title in Evansville. 26-year-old Zhao currently owns a 19-11 record this season, with two ITF finals.

Rebecca Marino and Carol Zhao encourage each other during the billie jean king doubles match
Photo: Srdjan Stevanovic

In case you missed it

In a week divided by players who decided to head to Tokyo and others who preferred to keep playing in the regular season’s tournaments, the opportunity arose to lift trophies.

Four first-time winners emerged last week, two men and two women. 29-year-old lefty Cameron Norrie finally captured his first crown in Los Cabos, having been denied in four previous attempts, three of them in 2021.

18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest champion since Kei Nishikori in Delray Beach in 2018 by winning the title in Umag. It was the Spaniard’s first tour-level final.

American Danielle Collins won her first title in Palermo last week. The 27-year-old was also contesting her first tour-level final.

Closing the winners’ circle, Maryna Zanevska captured her first title in Gdynia, Poland also in her first career final. The Belgian had enjoyed more success in doubles previously, having reached four WTA finals, until winning her first singles crown.

Under the radar

Three Canadian men have entered the Lexington Challenger main draw this week:

World Nos. 243 Peter Polansky, 247 Brayden Schnur, and Wild Card Liam Draxl.

Schnur was able to qualify for the main draw in the ATP250 in Newport in the week after Wimbledon, but lost in three highly contested sets in the first round.

Draxl made the news earlier this year with his No. 1 ranking in the NCAA, and reached his first professional final in Weston, FL in an ITF 15k event. The 19-year-old plays his first round against No. 1 seeded player Jenson Brooksby.

Follow all Canadian action here.