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Canadian tennis players can still make a splash at ‘Fifth Slam’
The BNP Paribas Open – better known as Indian Wells for the Californian city in which it is played – is an important event in the world of tennis. In terms of cash prizes, Ranking Points, and just overall prestige, the only events above are the four Grand Slam tournaments and the End of Season Tour Finals. Like the Slams, Indian Wells offers both a men’s and women’s tournament played at the same time on the same courts. So it may sound a bit like a Major, and some fans even consider it “the Fifth Slam”.
Normally Indian Wells is played in March. But, after being canceled in 2020, it was postponed this year due to the pandemic. With the Slams ended a few weeks ago and the lucrative tour finals next month, it’s a tough job on the calendar – and the field reflects that. World No.1s Novak Djokovic and Ash Barty both jump Indian Wells, while marquee names Naomi Osaka, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer take time off for a variety of reasons. Female number 2 Aryna Sabalenka withdrew on Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19.
However, Canada’s top two players in the women’s and men’s singles are all competing, and this is our last chance this year to see them all in one place. Here’s a look at what’s at stake for these four players when the main draws begin on Wednesday:
Bianca Andreescu: It seems like a million years ago, but Andreesu’s big breakthrough actually happened the last time this event happened. She had started making noise earlier in 2019 with impressive races in smaller tournaments that propelled her into the world rankings. But no one was prepared for what Andreescu did as an unranked 18-year-old at Indian Wells, where she knocked out three top 20 players to win her first WTA Tour title – and the highest championship. prestigious never won by a Canadian tennis in singles. player (at the time). In retrospect, Andreescu’s full experience was on display there as her formidable blend of talent and fighting spirit pushed her through a painful finale – and possibly beyond her physical limits. A bad shoulder forced her to give up in the middle of next week’s tournament, which she probably shouldn’t have played, and two months later she couldn’t answer the bell for her second-round match at Roland Garros after aggravating the injury. . A few months later, Andreescu won the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the US Open, beating the great Serena Williams in both finals and becoming the first Canadian to win a singles slam. Then a knee injury knocked Andreescu out of the WTA Finals in late October, and she hasn’t been the same since. Ranked fourth in the world when she injured her knee, Andreescu is now down to 21st place, with a 16-11 record since the injury. Despite all this baggage and all the time that has passed, she is still the defending champion at Indian Wells. Maybe she can get some of that magic from 2019 back.
Leyla Fernandez: Tennis is cruel. Just look at the arcs of Andreescu and Fernandez. Just two years ago, the first was the undisputed queen of Canadian tennis. But she has already been dethroned by Fernandez, who rose to stardom last month with her superb run in the shades of Bianca to the US Open final as a 73rd-ranked teenager. Now ranked 28th, Fernandez is still officially ranked seven places after Andreescu, but she is No. 1 in the hearts of most Canadian tennis fans. Indian Wells is Fernandez’s first appearance since the US Open, and therefore her first chance to answer the big question: is she here to stay, or a one-shot wonder?
Félix Auger-Aliassime: Currently, no Canadian is in a position to qualify for the ATP or WTA Tour Finals, which are reserved for the top eight in a special ranking system. But, among singles players, Auger-Aliassime has the best chance of breaking through. He is currently 10th in the points race, and we already know that one of the first eight (Nadal) is out. Considering how this season has unfolded with all the challenges associated with the pandemic, it looks like there is a good chance that at least one more guy will be released before the finale opens on November 14. . Additionally, Auger-Aliassime has just completed his own fantastic run at the US Open, where he reached the semi-finals before losing to world No.2 Daniil Medvedev. At 11th place, Felix is now the highest ranked Canadian player in singles. We’ll see if he can continue to play like that.
Denis Chapovalov: The 15th-ranked male player in the world is also not out of the race to qualify for the Tour final. But since reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon, where he lost to Djokovic, Shapovalov is 3-6. After Indian Wells, there is still one Masters level event for men, at the beginning of November in Paris. But Shapo is running out of time to turn the tide. Learn more about Canadians playing Indian Wells here.
The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is back. Look, we all wish the Blue Jays made the playoffs. But it’s a nice consolation prize. From the early to mid-2000s (back in the days when the only people who would have cared about a Facebook crash were a few Harvard undergraduates), the Yanks-Sox rivalry was the most important thing in sports. . It came to a head starting in 2003 when Aaron Boone (now manager of the Yankees) extended Boston’s epic drought for the World Series title to age 85 with his home run in extra innings of Game 7 of the series. American League Championship against former Yankee. Stadium. The following year, the Red Sox retaliated in the smoothest possible way, rallying a three-game-none deficit to beat New York in the ALCS, then sweeping St. Louis in the World Series, finally offering a championship to sports’ the most battered fan base. It’s hard to beat that, and these teams didn’t. Their rivalry has since died down. But you can feel some of the old flames rekindle for tonight’s one-off showdown at Fenway Park. The Yanks are favored with ace Gerrit Cole on the mound, but the Sox have home court advantage in their venerable former stadium and a great starter of their own at Nate Eovaldi. So maybe another memorable chapter will be written.
The players from the National Women’s Soccer League have agreed to return. The NWSL has been shut down since allegations last week that North Carolina coach Courage emotionally abused and sexually coerced players on his team. He was immediately sacked, the league canceled all of his games last weekend and commissioner Lisa Baird has resigned. Today, Washington Spirit CEO Steve Baldwin resigned, saying he “definitely made mistakes” after his team’s coach was also sacked amid harassment allegations. Also today, the NWSL players’ association announced “that we have made the decision to continue the competition scheduled for Wednesday evening, but our requests will be forthcoming.” Learn more about the latest developments in the NWSL here.
Coming to CBC Sports
Beach Volleyball – World Tour Finals: Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes have yet to take the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The reigning world champions arrived with high hopes for gold, but came away without a medal after a stunning surprise in the quarter-finals. They will have the chance to end the season on a high note in the World Tour final, which kicks off Wednesday in Italy. You can watch all of their games as part of CBC Sports’ live coverage of the women’s and men’s tournaments, starting Wednesday at 3:30 a.m.ET. Get more details and watch the feeds here.
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