June 12, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Thin soup with only two Canadians in AO qualifying

Rebecca Marino at Melbourne Park Sunday, the day before she begins her qualifying quest.

Remember the days when there might be as many as five or six Canadian players (mostly male) in a Grand Slam qualifying tournament?

Those days are not … now, as only two Canadians will take the court as qualifying begins at Melbourne Park on Monday.

There is Rebecca Marino, No. 24 seed on the women’s side.

And there is Brayden Schnur, unseeded on the men’s side.

Marino is first up at 10 a.m. Monday, against Ylena In-Albon of Switzerland.

If she wins, she would face either the Aussie teenager who took her out in the first round in Adelaide last week, Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz, or veteran Kateryna Bondarenko.

As it happens, she’s due to warm up with Bondarenko tomorrow morning.

Here is Marino’s section of the draw. It’s doable; with the No. 8 seed Rakhimova a fairly tough customer.

(Click on it to see the full women’s qualifying draw.)

Schnur Stands Alone

The lone Canadian in the men’s draw has spent the week as part of Team Canada at the ATP Cup.

He remains there Sunday evening, as Canada made the final.

(Schnur cheering on Denis Shapovalov as he pulled off a victory over Pablo Carreño Busta in the ATP Cup Final Sunday evening – TennisTV)

It wasn’t the greatest prep for the qualifying, although he did get one match in, in the opening tie, because teammate Denis Shapovalov had just gotten out of isolation after testing positive for COVID on arrival Down Under.

Here’s his section of the draw.

It’s also doable.

(Click on it to see the entire men’s qualifying draw).

Who’s Missing?

The most notable absentee is Vasek Pospisil, whose ranking has fallen down far enough that he would have had to play the qualifying.

But Pospisil, who has never done well in Australia (no doubt because they are the types of weather conditions in which he struggles), skipped the trip.

After training with his friend Novak Djokovic in Belgrade and then heading to the Bahamas, Pospisil is scheduled to begin his season this coming week at a Challenger in Italy.

Also missing is Steven Diez, who also is part of team Canada in Sydney.

He is a regular in the qualifying and has made the main draw before (notably at the 2020 edition of Roland Garros).

But his ranking is down to No. 274 and, as of Sunday night, he was still five out of the qualifying.

Many years, that would be high enough to squeeze in. But not this year – unless a few players don’t answer the bell. You never know. Sometimes the luckiest people are the ones who are in the right place at the right time.

Peter Polansky – another regular in the qualies – is down even further in the rankings.

We should also mention Alejandro Tabilo, the 24-year-old who played the other three junior Grand Slams as a Canadian back in 2015 (although not the Australian Open).

Now representing Chile, Tabilo was impressive at the ATP Cup last week.

He’s the No. 16 seed in the qualifying, with a good draw. And he’s done it here in Melbourne before.

Chilean-Canadian Alejandro Tabilo on the practice court with his Chilean countrymen, after arriving in Melbourne from the ATP Cup in Sydney.

Ranks thin on the women’s side

On the women’s side, the next-highest ranked after Marino is Genie Bouchard at No. 253 (although when she does return from shoulder surgery, her protected ranking would be just inside No. 120 – still not high enough for a main draw).

After that, it’s down to Carol Zhao at No. 290 as the only other Canadian woman in the top 300.

So it’s not as though anyone is missing on the women’s side. There just aren’t any.

With Bianca Andreescu also not playing, the only female player guaranteed to be in the main singles draw is Leylah Fernandez.

On the men’s side, Shapovalov and Félix Auger-Aliassime will be in, with Milos Raonic out with injury.

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