The professional tennis season is one of the longest in sports, and it doesn't waste its time heating up, either. The Australian Open began play yesterday!
This two-week tournament in Melbourne is one of four Grand Slams—along with the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open, these feature all of the very best men's and women's players in the world. This year, Canada has four players in the mix: Eugenie Bouchard, Bianca Andreescu, Denis Shapovalov, and Milos Raonic.
Though play is already underway, this quartet all play their first matches on the second day (which for Canadians actually begins this evening at around 7:00pm EST).
Let's get you caught up! We'll begin with the...
Women's side: Deja 'Scu?
Eugenie Bouchard is already a well-known player down under. It was in 2014—her first year in the Australian Open—when as a 19 year-old she surprised the tennis world by reaching the semifinal, where she lost to eventual champion, China's Li Na.
Then there's Bianca Andreescu. This 18 year-old is now playing in her first Aussie Open. And only a couple weeks ago, she herself shocked the tennis world by beating two former number ones—Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams—on her way to the final of a tournament in Auckland, New Zealand. So can Bianca follow in Genie's Aussie footsteps and go deep in her Melbourne debut? She just might!
As for Genie, though her fortunes have soured since that magical 2014, 2019 has started well for her. At that same Auckland tournament she made the quarterfinals in singles, while winning the doubles title with her partner, Sofia Kenin of the USA. She'll need those good vibes in Melbourne. If she wins her first round match against China's Shuei Peng, she could next face arguably the greatest women's tennis player of all-time: Serena Williams. No pressure!
Men's side: Power and passion
Like Bouchard, Raonic's breakthrough Grand Slam was the Australian Open, back in 2011. Since then though, he has managed to improve, using his massive serve to remain a steady threat on tour. He even made the semifinals here in 2016—his best year as a pro. Since then though, injuries have hurt his six-foot, five-inch frame, leading many ups and downs.
Last year was his worst Aussie Open ever and he lost in the first round. This year he's in tough from the start again—he'll play the talented, but unpredictable Australian Nick Kyrgios, and could next face Swiss star Stan Wawrinka, who won this tournament in 2014.
And finally, there's Shapo. Denis Shapovalov made a dream splash in 2017 when he beat Rafael Nadal in Montreal. Already popular for his flashy playing style, all signs point to him being a future star—he's only 19! He's hoping that this is the year where that future begins for real. His tournament begins with what should be a pair of winnable matches ... though World Number One Novak Djokovic likely waits in the third round. Hey, one step at a time, Denis!