It’s time to vote again.
For who? Tennis Canada’s player of the year!
Brace yourself: it’s a tight race.
There were years dominated by Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic and, more recently, by Bianca Andreescu following her run in 2019.
But will 2021 belong to 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez or 21-year-old Félix Auger-Aliassime?
It’s a TOUGH choice.
Take a look at their records and you’ll see a lot of similarities.
Leylah battled in a memorable US Open final after dominating seeds no.3, no.16, no.5 and no2—titleholder Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka.
As far as Slam appearances, Félix made it to the quarters of Wimbledon and the semis in New York. Not too shabby!
Leylah won her first pro title in Monterrey, but Félix competed in the finals in Stuttgart and Murray River (i.e., Melbourne II).
They both closed out the season on a positive note: a 25-17 record for Leylah and 36-23 for Félix.
It’s very close. All the way down to their bank accounts. Auger-Aliassime pocketed $1,996,600 from 23 tournaments versus $1,772,625 from 17 events for Leylah.
And there’s more! They both ended the year at a career high. Fernandez is No.24 and rose 64 spots, and Félix is No.11 (*) and moved up 11 places—a huge feat at that level.
So, Leylah Fernandez or Félix Auger-Aliassime? I’ve already cast my ballot for both.
(*) Félix is currently fighting it out in Stockholm and could move up to No.10. He’ll also be at Davis Cup but won’t collect any ATP points.
AND THE NOMINEES ARE…
As far as the nominees in the other categories, Jorge Fernandez is a serious contender for coach of the year thanks to his great work with his daughter Leylah (even remotely!).
As far as doubles, Gabriela Dabrowski is the undisputed queen in the category. Just like that, she played her way to World No.5—the highest she’s ever risen.
ANOTHER ONE FOR NOVAK
As far as this season’s gold racquet, there’s no need for a vote. It most certainly goes to Novak Djokovic.
After missing the Calendar Slam by just one match, he continues to break records as the World No.1.
After clocking the most weeks at No.1 (346), he also became the ATP player with the most year-end No.1s (7!).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
Here’s what No.2 Daniil Medvedev had to say about Nole’s feats in Paris: “There are going to be new people coming to tennis who are just going to read in Wikipedia or whatever, what were the results, who was the world No 1 for most weeks, for most times. In the end they are going to see Novak everywhere. That’s when people are going to start to understand [and say], ‘OK, that’s amazing what he has done.’”
HEARD AROUND THE COURTS
AT BILLIE JEAN KING CUP: As far as wins, Tennis Canada won the draw and will host the tie against Latvia led by Jelena Ostapenko (No.28 in single and No.18 in doubles) next April.
My spies inform me they’ll all be heading to the Maritimes.
WTA FINALS: Even though they qualified for the WTA Finals, which are happening in Mexico this week, Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani won’t be there.
Canada will be in the mix though. Their absence left a spot for Sharon Fichman and hometown hero Giuliana Olmos.
ROLLING OUT THE RED CARPET
Besides Canada, ten countries are represented at J3 Montréal, which is taking place at IGA Stadium until November 13.
After last summer’s National Bank Open, J3 is the most international event to happen here since March 2020.
Among the young hopefuls is Nicholas Godsick, whose father Tony is one of the most influential men in tennis thanks to his ties to Roger Federer. Nicholas’ mother is former World No.4 Mary Jo Fernandez, so we know he’s got good genes.
As for Tony, he really likes Montréal.
But more on that some other time.