First Serve: Canadians on the pro tennis tours this week

Eh Game
Raonic returns a shot against Bernard Tomic during their first-round match in Tokyo last week. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Raonic returns a shot against Bernard Tomic during their first-round match in Tokyo last week. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Milos Raonic's effort in a losing cause in the Tokyo final was the highlight of last week's action, while Genie Bouchard's early exit from Beijing was a disappointment.

They get to do it all again this week, as Raonic travels from Tokyo to Shanghai, and Bouchard took advantage of the extra days off as she made the trip all the way to Linz, Austria.

Bouchard is the top seed in Linz, one of the poster ladies along with Ana Ivanovic. It's the first time on the WTA Tour that she has been seeded No. 1; in Nürnberg, Germany, where she won her first WTA Tour title, she was the second seed; she would have been the top seed at smaller events in Washington, D.C. and Hong Kong this year, but she was a late scratch from both events.

The top-seeded Canadian shares the Linz poster with Ana Ivanovic. (Generali Ladies Linz)
The top-seeded Canadian shares the Linz poster with Ana Ivanovic. (Generali Ladies Linz)

She was hampered by an adductor issue in Beijing, so despite the travel you have to hope the extra few days off helped in that regard.

Her first match will be against Austrian wild card Patricia Mayr-Achleitner; a rematch with big-serving Sabine Lisicki of Germany (who defeated her in Beijing), looms in the quarterfinals.

Bouchard has already qualified for the year-end finals in Singapore; she is also entered in another small event in Luxembourg next week but, given the circumstances, it would be a longshot to see her there – the Singapore tournament begins on the Monday and it's a long trip back to Asia.

Raonic, seeded No. 8 in the Masters 1000 tournament in Shanghai, will play wild card Juan Monaco in the second round after receiving a first-round bye. Countryman Vasek Pospisil, unseeded, will play Santiago Giraldo of Colombia in the first round, a rematch of their tussle at the Davis Cup World Group playoff tie in Halifax last month.

Pospisil is reuniting with American Jack Sock to play doubles in Shanghai; they are the No. 7 seeds and are locked in a tight race to make the ATP Tour's year-end championship in London in November.

Wimbledon champions Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil are reunited in Shanghai this weel. CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Sang Tan
Wimbledon champions Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil are reunited in Shanghai this weel. CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Sang Tan

They are currently the No. 8 doubles team, but there are several duos close behind them, and they may only have one more tournament together after this one, since they're entered in different events.

The rules for qualifying (as they are on the men's side) are a little obscure. But ultimately the top seven teams make it; the eighth would be a team that has won a Grand Slam title that isn't in the top seven – as long as they are in the top 20. That applies to Pospisil and Sock; it also could apply to Robert Lindstedt and Lukasz Kubot, who won the Australian Open title back in January and occupy the No. 10 spot, just 175 points behind Pospisil and Sock.

If neither team makes the top seven, the highest-ranked of the two would be get the No. 8 spot, with the other being the first alternate team at No. 9.

Lindstedt and Kubot also are in Beijing; they won their first-round match over a Chinese wild-card team. The good news for Pospisil and Sock is that their rivals must play the No. 1 seed Bryan brothers in the second round.

On the singles side, Raonic is currently No. 8 in the race to London, having moved up one spot after last week's effort.  Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov are not that far behind him, though. As well, even though Marin Cilic lost his first-round match to countryman  Ivo Karlovic in Shanghai Monday, the U.S. Open champion (by the same rule that governs the doubles), is a shoe-in to make the final eight because even if he doesn't finish the season in the top seven, his Grand Slam title entitles him to qualify.

Is that as clear as mud?

To sum up, both Pospisil and Raonic are looking pretty good to make the big tour finals. But both have some work to do.

Jesse Levine, the Ottawa-born Canadian who represented the U.S. for many years before finally seeing the light (we're kidding), is back this week at a $15,000 tournament in Houston, Texas. Levine has played just one match since last November because of a persistent elbow injury.

Also in Linz, Austria is Gloucester, Ont's Gabriela Dabrowski, who is playing doubles with Alijca Rosolska of Poland. The pair, seeded No. 4, reached the final a year ago.

Out in California, a series of big-money Challenger events continues.  Frank Dancevic and Peter Polansky, for the third straight week, are seeded even though things have not been going their way in singles the last few weeks.

This week, it's Tiburon, Calif. And Polansky gets an immediate rematch with American left Wayne Odesnik, who defeated him in the first round last week in Sacramento in a third-set tiebreaker, after Polansky had served for the match at 5-4 in the third set. Polansky and countryman Adil Shamasdin reached the doubles final last week, after winning the previous week in Napa; but Polansky isn't playing doubles this week.

Vancouver's  Filip Peliwo is playing the second week of a series of Futures events in France, $15,000 tournaments where he's generally facing players outside the top 500. He reached the semi-finals in last week's tournament; this week, he's the No. 4 seed.

 

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