Fernandez, Andreescu and Auger-Aliassime will see their rankings fall after early exits in the Grand Slam. But there was good news, too.
The problem with reaching the final of a Grand Slam tennis tournament is that there’s pressure on you to do it again.
Laval native Leylah Fernandez learned that lesson last week.
Fernandez rode a series of stunning upsets to reach the U.S. Open final last year. In addition to a million-dollar paycheque, Fernandez earned 1,300 WTA rankings points and climbed into the top 20 in the WTA rankings.
Those points disappeared when the U.S. Open began and, when Fernandez lost to Liudmila Samsonova in the second round last week, she earned a mere 70 points and dropped to No. 40.
Fernandez displayed her determination against the hard-hitting Samsonova and took her to a tiebreaker in the second set. But she missed most of the summer because of a stress fracture in her foot and it still bothered her in New York, which is why we won’t see her on the court for at least another month.
While Fernandez made a significant drop, it wasn’t as steep as that experienced by Emma Raducanu, the Canadian-born British player who beat her in last year’s final. Raducanu lost in the first round this year and went from No. 11 to No. 83.
The performances from the five Canadians in the singles draws in New York generally fell short of expectations.
Bianca Andreescu, who made a breakthrough when she beat Serena Williams in the final of the 2019 U.S. Open, won two matches before losing to France’s Carolina Garcia in straight sets.
Andreescu showed she is capable of playing top-level tennis when she upset 15th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round, but she has to play more tennis after missing two years with injuries and emotional problems. She has played only 26 matches this year.
Andreescu, who is also taking the next month off, was as high as No. 4 after her U.S. Open win, but she dropped eight spots to No. 56 which means that she has to qualify for the big-money — and big-point — WTA 1000 events.
The feel-good story for the Canadians was Rebecca Marino’s appearance in the third round of the singles, where she lost to China’s Shuai Zhang. The 31-year-old Marino qualified for direct entry into a Grand Slam for the first time since 2012 and she finished the tournament at No. 90, her highest ranking in a decade.
Marino was ranked in the top 40 in 2011, but walked away from the tour two years later, suffering from burnout. She launched a comeback in 2019 and her recent success reflects five years of hard work in the backwaters of the tennis world. Her current ranking means she should get direct entries into the four Grand Slams next year with a guaranteed US$250,000 in prize money.
On the men’s side, Félix Auger-Aliassime lost to Britain’s Jack Draper in straight sets in the second round and will drop out of the top 10 in the rankings. The 22-year-old Montrealer has struggled with consistency. His serve, which let him down when he collapsed against Casper Ruud at the National Bank Open in Montreal, was solid against Draper, but he made 41 unforced errors.
Denis Shapovalov, who had a 3-9 record after reaching the quarter-finals of the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, will drop a few spots from his ranking of No. 21, but he had reason to be happy with his results. He reached the third round before losing a fifth-set tiebreaker to Russian Andrey Rublev.
The good news out of the Shapovalov camp is that he has rehired coach Mikhail Youzhny, a former top-10 player with a PhD in philosophy.