First Serve: Canadians on the pro tennis tour this week

Eh Game
First Serve: Canadians on the pro tennis tour this week
First Serve: Canadians on the pro tennis tour this week

You thought the tennis season was over? It seems it's never over.

Top Canadian men Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil are idle this week, but just about every other Canadian is in action somewhere around the planet.

In Moscow, at a joint ATP and WTA Tour event, Pickering, Ont.'s Adil Shamasdin and Austrian partner Philipp Oswald are the No. 1 seeds in doubles - that has to be a first for the Canadian, who reached the third round of the US Open in doubles last month.

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The Toronto native, with partner Philipp Oswald of Austria, reached the third round of the US Open doubles together last month. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca
The Toronto native, with partner Philipp Oswald of Austria, reached the third round of the US Open doubles together last month. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca

Also in Moscow, Gabriela Dabrowski reached the final round of qualifying before losing in three sets to Anastasija Sevastova, a 25-year-old Latvian who showed some early promise, but abruptly retired a few years ago before making her way back this year. In the first qualifying round, Dabrowski upset highly-regarded young Croatian Donna Vekic in straight sets. 

Dabrowski also is playing doubles with Raluca Olaru of Romania. In the first round, they face an unknown Russian who is paired up with Croatia's Iva Majoli, the 38-year-old who won the French Open in 1997 but who has been retired for more than a decade. So that should go well – for the Canadian.

Nestor is playing with fellow 40-something lefty Julian Knowle of Austria in Vienna. They received a wild card in Knowle's home country, but got a tough draw in No. 4 seeds Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea in the first round.

The 43-year-old's career doubles record currently stands at 996-409, which means he's just four victories shy of 1,000. Clearly he's on a mission to ensure he gets it this season, with this extra tournament added before his next stops in Basel and Paris with regular partner Édouard Roger-Vasselin. He would be the first player ever to accomplish it.

Where do the Canadians stand in terms of their quests to make the ATP Tour Finals in London next month?

Well, Raonic's third-round loss to Rafael Nadal did him no favours, which is likely one reason why he decided to take a pass on Vienna to take care of his body before his final two tournaments of the season. Raonic stands in 14th place – not only some 1,500 points behind No. 8 David Ferrer of Spain, but with five players between them.

On the doubles side, Nestor and Roger-Vasselin are in 12th place, with another 1,500 ranking points available in their final two tournaments. Nestor's efforts with Knowle this week won't count against the team total. However, if he and Knowle could knock out Bopanna and Mergea in the first round in Vienna, Nestor would help his own cause; the Indian-Romanian duo currently holds down the eighth spot, and they have about a 1,000-point lead on Nestor and Roger-Vasselin. He would also help the cause of Davis Cup teammate Pospisil and his American partner Jack Sock.

Pospisil and Sock sit ninth. But they have no plans to play together the next two weeks, and haven't yet signed up for the Masters 1000 tournament in Paris (the deadline is today, although they are ranked high enough that they could sign in on site at the last minute). Pospisil and Sock would not only have to win Paris, they also would have to hope that Bopanna and Mergea get knocked out early in the next few weeks. It's a longshot at best.

Peter Polansky has not had the best luck in his career, to say the least. (The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim)
Peter Polansky has not had the best luck in his career, to say the least. (The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

The other Canadian boys continue their swing of the American Challenger circuit, which stops this week in Las Vegas, Nevada for a $50,000 event. Frank Dancevic and Philip Bester are in the main draw there, while Peter Polansky and Toronto's David Volfson lost in the first round of qualifying. Bester and Polansky also are teaming up for doubles again.

It was another close, tough loss for Polansky, who has had more than his fair share of them. He was defeated 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (4) by American Ernesto Escobedo, a 19-year-old ranked No. 534 on the ATP Tour. That hurts.

The Canadian women's scene focuses on the Saguenay region of Quebec, where a $50,000 tournament is like homecoming week. Among those in the singles draw are Aleksandra Wozniak, Sharon Fichman and  Carol Zhao (taking a break from her studies at Stanford University), as well as young wild cards Charlotte Robillard-Millette, Marie-Alexandre Leduc and Isabelle Boulais (the daughter of former Eugenie Bouchard coach Yves Boulais and longtime Canadian standout player Patricie Hy).

Aleksandra Wozniak's comeback from shoulder surgery continues this week in Saguenay, Quebec. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Aleksandra Wozniak's comeback from shoulder surgery continues this week in Saguenay, Quebec. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

There also are six teams, either all-Canadian or half-Canadian, in the doubles. As well, 44-year-old Maureen Drake was the only player among many Canadians to survive the first two rounds of qualifying; she plays her final round on Monday.

(Bookmark this link to keep up to date on all the Canadian results this week).

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