Australian Open preview: Can a Canadian claim the title?

Felix Auger-Aliassime is the top Canadian at the tennis tournament that is one of January's biggest sports events
Felix Auger-Aliassime had a career-year last season, including this appearance at the exclusive ATP Finals in November. (ID 261531822 © Marco Canoniero |

In Canada, it is winter. But in countries on the other side of the world, it is summer.

One such place is Melbourne, Australia, home of one of this month's biggest sports tournaments.

The Australian Open.

This tennis showdown is a Grand Slam—one of the four biggest events in the sport. The 2023 edition begins this Sunday and goes until January 29.

The Aussie Open regularly attracts all of the best players in the world, including some Canadians. This year, that includes Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, and Vasek Pospisil, who are probably still glowing from giving Canada its first-ever Davis Cup win last November.

Could one of these players add to the lone Grand Slam title in the country's tennis history?

Let's see!

Felix is on fire

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Felix practicing in Australia, earlier this week. (Getty Embed)

Leading the list for Canada is definitely Felix. Not only was he a key part of that Davis Cup triumph, he was one the sports' hottest players last October. At one point, he won three tournaments in a row. This string of wins pushed him into the ATP Finals, which is the year-end event exclusive to the Top 8 players in the world for that year. Whoa!

After such a terrific end to 2022, he has a career-high (and current) ranking of sixth in the world. Sadly for some fans, his first match will be against a fellow Canadian: Pospisil. One Canadian's will lose!

Elsewhere, Shapovalov (who is ranked 20th in the world) will play Dusan Lajovic of Serbia.

Do any of these three players have a chance at winning it all?

Novak is back

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Nine-time Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic salutes the crowd after winning the recent Adelaide Open. (Getty Embed)

There's always a chance, it's tough. Grand Slam title leader and defending Aussie Open champ Rafael Nadal will be there.

And so will Novak Djokovic, who has won more Aussie Opens than anyone in history (nine). He is also just one Slam title behind Nadal (21 to Rafa's 22). And he will be extra motivated to win after being sent home from Australia last year because he wasn't vaccinated against COVID.

Since returning to Australia this year, he's already won one warm-up tournament. He will be tough to beat.

Return to form?

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Getting down to basics! Leylah Fernandez is ready to get back to winning in Australia. (Getty Embed)

There are also four female Canadian athletes entered into the women's side, including a pair of players who have done very well in past Grand Slams.

In 2021, Leylah Fernandez made it all the way to the final of the US Open. And in 2019, Bianca Andreescu won that tournament (still the only Canadian Slam win by a woman or man).

But this is 2023, and both players are struggling to overcome injuries and get back to being as dominant as they once were. That's tennis—a demanding sport that requires a player's mental and physical fitness to be in perfect harmony. Can the clean slate of a new year lead to a win? Fernandez won't have long to figure it out. Her first opponent, Alize Cornet, is a smart and skillful tennis veteran.

Leylah and Bianca are joined in the first round by Rebecca Marino and a player who just qualified yesterday: Katherine Sebov.

Good luck to all of these Canadians!

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