First Serve: Canadians on the pro tennis tours this week

Eh Game
Pospisil and Nestor are both in the top 10 in doubles but for the first time, Pospisil is ranked higher. (REUTERS/Kevin Light)
Pospisil and Nestor are both in the top 10 in doubles but for the first time, Pospisil is ranked higher. (REUTERS/Kevin Light)

First things first.

For the first time in about 14 years, Daniel Nestor is not the No. 1 doubles player in the country.

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That honour, as of the release of the new ATP Tour rankings Monday, belongs to 24-year-old Vasek Pospisil.

For the first time, Vasek Pospisil edges ahead of Daniel Nestor in the rankings (ATPTour.com)
For the first time, Vasek Pospisil edges ahead of Daniel Nestor in the rankings (ATPTour.com)

The Vancouver native and American partner Jack Sock capped off an excellent swing through the two big American hard-court tournaments with an appearance in the Miami Open final.

They lost a close one to the No. 1 Bryan brothers, 10-8 in a match tiebreak after overcoming a 1-6 deficit to tie it at 8-8. That, combined with their victory at Indian Wells two weeks ago, means Pospisil's doubles ranking is now a career-high No. 5.

Nestor, who had reached the quarter-finals at Miami a year ago with former partner Nenad ZImonjic, lost in the first round this time and as a result, his ranking dropped from No. 5 to No. 7.

When he begins his clay-court season in a week at Monte Carlo, Nestor will no longer be playing with Rohan Bopanna but with his Indian countryman, Leander Paes. The results had been feast or famine for the now-former pair and, Bopanna wrote on Twitter, Nestor wanted a change.

The top Canadian men are off this week. Milos Raonic also will begin his clay-court season in Monte Carlo, where he has an official residence. He has also signed up to play doubles with Ernests Gulbis. Pospisil isn't entered in Monte Carlo.

On the women's side, top Canadian Genie Bouchard took a wild card into this week's Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C., after an early exit at the Miami Open.

If an abdominal injury suffered at Indian Wells hampered Bouchard in Miami, it obviously wasn't serious enough to take the week off. She will be the top seed and after a first-round pass in a 56-player draw, she has a very interesting road.

The Can-American duo won the junior doubles title at Wimbledon in 2011. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)
The Can-American duo won the junior doubles title at Wimbledon in 2011. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)

Bouchard's first match will be against a former American junior rival, either Grace Min or Lauren Davis. Bouchard teamed up with Min to win the Wimbledon junior doubles in 2011, the year before she won both the singles and doubles crowns and started gaining major attention.

If she gets through that one, Bouchard could face one of several intriguing opponents in the third round.

*Germany's Mona Barthel, who defeated her in Antwerp in her first tournament with new coach Sam Sumyk.

*Talented all-court American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who defeated Bouchard twice last year.

*American Sloane Stephens, who is currently under the tutelage of Bouchard's former longtime coach Nick Saviano and who is has posted excellent results the last few weeks.

Beyond that looms another talented young American, Madison Keys, who did in 2015 what Bouchard did in 2014; she reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Adding to the intrigue was a spill reportedly suffered by Bouchard on the slippery Har-Tru court in practice Sunday.

Video of Bouchard walk off during practice today. Hopefully there is nothing to it. pic.twitter.com/0PMbqCvGri

— TennisAtlantic (@TennisAtlantic) April 5, 2015

Also in Charleston is doubles specialist Gabriela Dabrowski, who faces a tough first round (with partner Alicja Rosolska) in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alla Kudryavtseva.

Dabrowski made it into the singles qualifying, but lost in the first round. Also a first-round qualifying casualty was 18-year-old Montrealer Françoise Abanda, who received a wild card into the qualies but lost 6-1, 7-5 to Germany's Laura Siegemund.

Abanda, who may well be counted on in two weeks as Canada faces Romania in Fed Cup in Montreal, has struggled to win matches lately. She received a wild card into the main draw of the big Miami event courtesy of an exchange between the tournament and IMG, the agency that owns the event. But she lost 6-2, 6-3 to Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in the first round. Last week, she played the qualifying at a $50,000 tournament in Osprey, Florida, but lost in the second round to Ipek Soylu of Turkey after being just a few points away from victory in the second-set tiebreaker.

Soylu is also 18 and, at No. 254, ranked lower than Abanda. Siegemund, 27, is ranked No. 144. Abanda has played just 12 singles matches this season, four of them at a small event in Arizona in February.

Pickering, Ont.'s Adil Shamasdin is teaming up with Australia's Rameez Junaid in doubles at the ATP Tour event in Casablanca, Morocco this week.

In other news, struggling 21-year-old Filip Peliwo lost his first match in qualifying at a Challenger-level event in Saint Brieuc, France over the weekend, 6-3, 6-4 to 22-year-old Frenchman Constant Lestienne, ranked No. 425.

 

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