AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The many firsts for Canadian tennis at the 2020 US Open

We will all remember the 2020 US Open for a long time.

For the first time, players who are usually greeted as rock stars at Arthur Ashe Stadium — the loudest tennis venue on the circuit thanks to the New York crowd — had to walk onto the court with their face masks on and play their matches without any spectators.

For the first time, die-hard tennis fans were virtually sitting courtside — if you count watching via Zoom from their couches.

For the first time, the world number one was disqualified from a Grand Slam — but that’s a story for Novak Djokovic to tell another day.

For Canadian players, the 2020 US Open was the scene of several firsts, proof that they were ready to return to sport and without any rust!

A Canadian man in the US Open singles quarterfinals

READ: US Open Updates: Shapovalov advances to quarterfinals

Denis Shapovalov became the first Canadian man to reach the singles quarterfinals at the US Open in the Open Era. He unlocked this new achievement by beating Belgian David Goffin 6-7(0), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

That wasn’t his only bit of history making. The 21-year-old became the first player to make the US Open quarterfinals in both men’s singles and doubles since 2006. And here some fun trivia: the last player to have done that is his coach Mikhail Youzhny.

Unfortunately, Shapo’s journey at the US Open came to an end after a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-3 loss to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals. In doubles, he and his partner Rohan Bopanna’s run ended with a straight sets loss to Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in the quarters as well.

Shapovalov’s first Grand Slam quarterfinal

With his victory over Goffin, Shapo got himself into his first quarterfinal at any of the Grand Slams. His previous best-ever showing at a Grand Slam was the third round of the 2019 Australian Open, where he was defeated by eventual champion Djokovic.

Three Canadians in the fourth round of a Grand Slam

Shapovalov, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil wrote another piece of Canadian tennis history in Flushing Meadows when they all advanced to the fourth round. While Auger-Aliassime got there with an easy straight sets win over Corentin Moutet of France, both Shapovalov and Pospisil needed five sets to pass through American Taylor Fritz (19th seed) and Roberto Bautista Agut (8th seed).

How many maple leafs are too many maple leafs? With three players in the Round of 16, Canada was the best represented country at that phase of the tournament. What a nice sight!

A man born in the 2000s reaches a Grand Slam fourth round

Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, celebrates after winning a match against Corentin Moutet, of France, during the third round of the US Open tennis championships, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Yes, this breakthrough belongs to one of the Canadian boys — Auger-Aliassime, born August 8, 2000. His win over Moutet marked the first time a man born in the 2000s advanced to the Round of 16 at any of the Grand Slams.

First US Open victory for Auger-Aliassime

It’s crazy to think that Auger-Aliassime had never won a US Open match before this year, but it’s true. FAA is progressing so quickly that it’s easy to forget this was just his third US Open appearance — but the first time he didn’t have to face Shapovalov in the first round! Without his friend across the net, Auger-Aliassime got that first win in four sets over Thiago Monteiro of Brazil.

Pospisil’s first US Open fourth round

At age 30, Pospisil is a veteran but that doesn’t mean he can’t still achieve career firsts. His five-setter over Bautista Agut gave him his first win against the Spaniard in four meetings and his first fourth round appearance at the US Open. It’s the furthest he’s gone in Grand Slam singles play since being a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in 2015.

Four Canadians in second round of a Grand Slam

When all four Canadian men — Auger-Aliassime, Pospisil, Milos Raonic and Shapovalov — survived first round action in New York, it marked the first time in 60 years that a Canadian quartet had done that in a Grand Slam singles tournament.

Unfortunately, we knew before the first serve of the second round that it wouldn’t last since the draw pitted Raonic and Pospisil against each other. The latter was the victor in four sets, 6-7, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.

Leylah Annie Fernandez to break into Top 100

Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, returns a shot to Sofia Kenin, of the United States, during the second round of the US Open tennis championships, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Leylah Annie Fernandez will hit a major career milestone when the rankings are updated after the US Open. The Canadian, who celebrated her 18th birthday on September 6, is projected to move up to number 96 in the next WTA ranking. Another significant 100 in Leylah’s US Open run? The teenager earned $100,000 for her second round exit. Happy birthday Leylah!

Fernandez’ first Grand Slam victory

Fernandez won her first-ever Grand Slam match at this year’s US Open by defeating Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 7-5.

Fernandez’ first US Open main draw appearance

The New York tournament is only Fernandez’s second appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam after making her major debut at this year’s Australian Open.

READ: Bianca Andreescu becomes Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion

While all of the Canadians might be out of the US Open this year, the future of Tennis Canada’s top players is looking bright and has us saying: when is the next Grand Slam? We won’t have to wait too long as the rescheduled French Open is set to start on September 21 and run until October 11.