Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov, Fernandez learn Australian Open first-round opponents

Felix Auger-Aliassime, left, and Denis Shapovalov of Canada react to winning. (Steve Christo/AP)

Three Canadians -- Félix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov and Leylah Annie Fernandez -- learned who their first-round opponents will be at the 2022 Australian Open after the singles draw took place on Thursday.

Auger-Aliassime, the highest-ranked Canadian in singles at a career-best No. 9, will face Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori in the first round in Melbourne. Auger-Aliassime enters the tournament with momentum on his side, having captained Team Canada to its first-ever ATP Cup win in Sydney last week.

In his most recent Grand Slam appearance, Auger-Aliassime reached the semifinals of the US Open, where he lost to the eventual champion, Daniil Medvedev.

Shapovalov, who led Canada to ATP Cup glory alongside Auger-Aliassime, enters the event ranked No. 14 and will open 2022's tournament against Serbia’s Laslo Djere.

During last year's Australian Open, Shapovalov reached the third round, where he eventually lost to Auger-Aliassime.

The 22-year-old's best run at a Grand Slam came at last year's Wimbledon, where he reached the semifinals before falling to Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 whose presence at the Australian Open has become a lightning-rod moment for the host country amid a prolonged visa dispute stemming from him being unvaccinated.

On the women's side of the draw, Fernandez, the No. 23 seed and 2021 US Open finalist, will begin the tournament with a clash against Australian wild card Maddison Inglis.

Fernandez will be looking to replicate her storied run in New York last September, and could be headed for a rematch against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, the No. 2 seed who she faced in the US Open semifinal, in Round 4 of the Australian Open.

One other Canadian woman, Rebecca Marino, could be involved in the women's singles main draw after she won her first two matches of qualifying. Her presence in the tournament hinges on the final round of qualifying this evening, where she will take on Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova.

The doubles draw for the Australian Open will take place later this week. Gabriela Dabrowski, the two-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion from Ottawa, Ont., is expected to be one of the favourites in Melbourne. Last year, alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States, she lost in the second round to the American duo of Coco Gauff and Caty McNally.

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