The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Brisebois: Davis cup – all systems go

October 20, 2022

With the 110th edition of Davis Cup about a month away, how’s team Canada shaping up? Pretty well, actually!

With Félix Auger-Aliassime in command, Tennis Canada has assembled an elite detachment. Last Sunday, he netted his second career title and moved back into the seventh spot in the race to the eight-man ATP Finals in Turin. Gabriel Diallo was a finalist and Alexis Galarneau was a quarterfinalist at last week’s Fairfield Challenger in California, and No.121 Vasek Pospisil made it to the semis at the Ismaning Challenger in Germany.

The week before, also on the Challenger circuit, Pospisil competed in the final of the Open de Vendée, and Galarneau got as far as the quarters in Tiburon, California.

“Compared to a lot of other countries, we don’t have a tonne of players. So, giving our all everywhere has kind of become our trademark in Canada,” said Martin Laurendeau.

Winning the mental game, too

With all his tennis knowledge as a former player (fourth round at the US Open) and coach (14 years as the captain of Canada’s Davis Cup team), Martin Laurendeau is a mentor to Gabriel Diallo, reigning champion of the Granby National Bank Challenger.

Ahead of the tournament in Fairfield, Martin spent two weeks at the University of Kentucky working one-on-one with the towering (6’7”!) Montrealer.

In the final in California, Gabriel fell 6-3, 6-2 to No.110 Michael Mmoh of the US.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak/Tennis Canada

“Gabriel couldn’t hit as hard because the balls don’t travel as much in colder weather. And, let’s face it, Michael played a perfect match,” Martin admitted.

“Gabriel won all his other matches in two sets, except his battle against Ben Shelton, a tall American lefty (6’4”) with a high ranking: No.159 at 20 years old. Diallo was one set down (5-7) with a break in the second (2-4), and he showed how tough he really is by putting it in turbo mode and turning things around 6-7 (5), 6-3,” he added.

High—but levelheaded—ambitions

Despite the loss, Gabriel Diallo (who, by the way, came up through the Aliassime Academy) collected enough points to leap to No.250 in the most recent ATP rankings. That’s a personal best after starting the season at No.991.

“Gabriel is really progressing. He’s got 11 wins and 2 losses since Granby. The goal is to reach the Top 200 and give him a chance to start 2023 by qualifying for the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne. We have the latitude to make that happen, since he has five more tournaments to play,” Laurendeau explained.

Diallo is heading back to the University of Kentucky this week but will be in Las Vegas next week, where the 610 metres in altitude will favour his big shots. And the week after? The indoor tournament in Calgary.

Tennis fans in Drummondville will be happy to know that he plans on stopping by the Challenger in November, even though he’ll be cutting it close with Davis Cup. Alexis Galarneau is expected to join him.

To the Davis Cup Finals in Spain!

How does success impact Davis Cup performances, the answer is clear.

“Ahead of these big international showdowns, it’s always important to play as many matches as possible. And nothing builds confidence in tennis like winning,” said Martin Laurendeau.

Davis Cup will be held in Malaga from November 23 to 27, with Canada among the 16 nations in the mix.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak/Tennis Canada