Canadian tennis player Gabriela Dabrowski a perennial contender in doubles

Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski, returns as she and Leylah Fernandez play Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens and Greet Minnen during a Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers doubles match, in Vancouver, on Saturday, April 15, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A decisive doubles victory in the Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers last month helped Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski carry “a pretty good level” into her tournaments leading up to the French Open.

Now she’s hoping to build on it at the second Grand Slam of the tennis season.

Dabrowski, ranked 18th in the world in doubles, will team with Brazil’s Luisa Stefani as the eighth seeds in the women’s competition and American Nathaniel Lammons in mixed doubles at Roland Garros.

“I’m someone that’s always looking to grow and improve in any small way that I can with my game,” she said from Paris. “So I’m always looking for ways that I can be better in every part of the court and in every way.”

Dabrowski has been a force on the doubles scene since her breakout season in 2017. She won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open that year with India’s Rohan Bopanna.

She won the Australian Open mixed title in 2018 with Croatia’s Mate Pavic, one of 13 career doubles titles on her resume.

Last month in Vancouver, the five-foot-10 Ottawa native teamed with Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., for a 6-1, 6-2 win over Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens and Greet Minnen.

The result gave Canada a 3-2 victory and a berth in the 12-team finals this November in Seville, Spain.

Fernandez has also upped her doubles game this season. She has reached two doubles finals in 2023 and her ranking is up to No. 36.

“She has a really impressive attitude on the court no matter what the score,” Dabrowski told The Canadian Press. “She’s always giving 100 per cent. She’s not easily intimidated.

“She’ll stand up to anyone on the court in singles or doubles and I love that about her. She’s an incredibly fast learner.”

Dabrowski, 31, has played with a variety of partners in recent seasons. She reached the round of 16 with Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos at the Australian Open and started playing with Stefani at Indian Wells in March.

“She’s just a great natural doubles player because she moves so well at the net,” said longtime tennis broadcaster and former Canadian Davis Cup coach Robert Bettauer. “She’s got a really smart doubles serve, gets it in deep, sets herself up for the volley. A very good return of serve.

“In doubles, it’s not power, it’s precision, and she has that. It’s her movement at the net. She’s just a fabulous net player.”

Feranadez and American Taylor Townsend, the 10th seeds at Roland Garros, open against American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Italy’s Sara Errani, while Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino teams with China’s Zhu Lin for a first-round match against the 11th-seeded Chinese tandem of Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan.

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