The 2018 season was under review during a press conference held on Wednesday at the Tennis Canada offices, as Michael Downey, President and CEO of Tennis Canada, Louis Borfiga, Vice-President of High Performance, along with Sylvain Bruneau, National Coach responsible for the women’s program, and Guillaume Marx, National Coach in charge of the men’s program, looked back at the Canadian tennis highlights of the past year. A total of 17 Canadian players contributed to a tally of 30 titles on the professional tour, 13 in singles and 17 in doubles. Rebecca Marino earned the most titles in 2018 thanks to her five wins.
Indeed, 2018 was a milestone year for Marino who made a return to tennis after a five-year absence. While the 28-year-old athlete started the year without a ranking, she finished the season ranked inside the Top 200, sitting at no. 190. She is among the group of nine Canadian players who finished the year ranked in the WTA and ATP Top 200, four of which are in the Top 100: Milos Raonic (no. 18), Denis Shapovalov (no. 27), Vasek Pospisil (no. 70) and Eugenie Bouchard (no. 88).
Among those in the Top 200, eight attained career-best rankings in 2018, starting with Gabriela Dabrowski who reached no. 7 in the doubles ranking. The Ottawa native added a second Grand Slam title to her name as she was crowned champion in mixed doubles at the Australian Open. She also took part in the WTA Finals for a second consecutive year.
Amid the veterans, injuries caused a problem once again for Milos Raonic at the start of the season, but he was able to get back on track in Indian Wells, where he reached the semi-finals. The former world no. 3 also made a run to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon for a third straight year in addition to reaching the finals at a tournament in Stuttgart. He remains the top ranked Canadian, as he sits at no. 18 in the world. For his part, Vasek Pospisil won two ATP Challenger titles at the start of the year and reached two other finals. It is his ascent of almost 40 spots that allowed him to finish his season ranked no. 70. On the women’s side, Eugenie Bouchard ended her year on a high note by reaching the semi-finals of a tournament in Luxembourg after having to go through qualifying to reach the main draw. The Montreal native, whose ranking fell to no. 194 in June, assured her place in the Top 100 as well as a spot in the main draw of the Australian Open in 2019.
The Young Guns
2018 was an important year for Denis Shapovalov as he had to deal with increased pressure after his successful 2017 campaign. The 19-year-old Ontario native was able to maintain his spot among the ATP’s elite in the rankings, notably by reaching the semi-finals in Madrid and notching 15 wins over Top 50 players. Meanwhile, Félix Auger-Aliassime is closer than ever to breaking into the Top 100 thanks in part to his two ATP Challenger titles. 2018 was also a year which saw him get his first ATP main draw victory by defeating Pospisil in Indian Wells, earn his first win against a Top 30 player when he battled past Lucas Pouille at the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank and take part in his first Grand Slam main draw at the US Open before falling to Shapovalov. Bianca Andreescu finished her 2018 season in style as she was crowned champion of a Challenger tournament in Norman, Oklahoma, which was her second title of the year and the fifth of her career. She concludes her season ranked no. 156 in the world after having started the year at no. 182.
“After several successful accomplishments in 2017, the eyes of the tennis world were turned towards our next generation of players. Despite the pressure put on their shoulders, they managed to continue their development,” stated Borfiga. “In fact, Canada can currently boast about having the highest ranked under-19 male player in the world, the highest ranked under-20 male player and the fourth highest ranked female player aged 18 and under. They still have a lot of work ahead of them and they know it. They are ambitious and perfectionists and it is by continuing to put in the hard work that they will stay on the path to accomplishing their goals.”
Numerous young Canadian players got their very first points on the professional tour this year. In fact, this achievement was accomplished by four boys (Justin Boulais, Chih Chi Huang, Liam Draxl and Sam Philp) as well as four girls (Jada Bui, Ariana Arseneault, Alexandra Mikhailuk and Raphaëlle Lacasse).
The 2018 season was the last for the legend Daniel Nestor, who hung up his racquet after taking part in his 52nd and final Davis Cup tie in September. Throughout his 29-year career on the ATP World Tour, Nestor was crowned champion of 91 tournaments, including 8 Grand Slams. He also won an Olympic Gold Medal in Sydney and is one of only six players to have registered over 1,000 wins on the ATP World Tour. At 46 years of age, his retirement is well deserved!