Top 8 Canadian tennis players of all time

Eugenie Bouchard - one of the most popular players on tour
Eugenie Bouchard - one of the most popular players on tour

Canada, unlike its neighbor the United States of America, hasn't enjoyed much success in tennis. But the present generation of Canadian tennis players offer a lot of hope.

In the last four years, Canadian players have made the semis, finals or won Grand Slam trophies across the singles, doubles and mixed doubles categories.

The most prominent tennis tournament in Canada is the Canadian Masters or 'The Rogers Cup' - a joint men's and women's competition which attracts the best tennis talent from around the world. For men, it is classified as a Masters 1000 event under the aegis of the ATP and for women it is classified as a Premier 5 Tournament under the aegis of the WTA.

Every year, the venue switches between Montreal and Toronto. If one year the tournament for men is held in Toronto, then Montreal will host the event for women. The next year, the order is reversed.

Tennis has a long way to go in Canada before catching up with more popular sports like ice hockey and lacrosse. But there have still been a few notable players from the country over the years.

Here, we take a look at eight of the greatest tennis athletes from Canada:

#8 Mike Belkin

One of the earliest tennis players from Canada to make a mark in the sport was Mike Belkin. During his 14-year career which started in 1961, Belkin was the top-ranked player from Canada for five consecutive years - between 1966 and 1972.

A player more suited to sticking to the baseline with his powerful groundstrokes, he added serve and volley to his repertoire later in his career.

Belkin's best performance at Grand Slam level came at the 1968 Australian Open (the first to be held in the Open Era). He made the quarterfinals that year, losing to top seed William Bowrey.

Belkin logged wins against top-ranked players like Roscoe Tanner, Jan Kodes and Jimmy Connors over the course of his career.

#7 Vasek Pospisil

Vasek Pospisil at The Championships - Wimbledon 2015
Vasek Pospisil at The Championships - Wimbledon 2015

Vasek Pospisil has attained a career-high ranking of World No. 25 in singles and World No. 4 in doubles.

Although a player more accustomed to the doubles format, Pospisil has also enjoyed some success at the singles level, reaching the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2015.

In doubles, he has won 6 ATP titles including the prestigious Wimbledon Championships in 2014 with his American partner Jack Sock. They beat the Bryan twins in the final in an epic five-set contest - one of the best doubles finals ever played at the All England Club.

At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Pospisil and compatriot Daniel Nestor narrowly missed out on a medal as they lost their bronze medal match to American duo Steve Johnson and Jack Sock.

From 2017 onwards, Pospisil has been coached by Hall of Famer and doubles legend Mark Woodforde.

#6 Grant Connell

Grant Connell and Glenn Michibata
Grant Connell and Glenn Michibata

One of the top doubles players in the world during the early to mid-1990s, Grant Connell achieved the doubles World No. 1 ranking in November 1993.

In his 11-year career, Connell won 22 doubles titles. He reached at least the semifinal of each of the four Grand Slam tournaments, finishing as runner-up at the Australian Open in 1990, and also as runner-up on three different occasions at the Wimbledon Championships - in 1993, 1994 and 1996.

His doubles partner at the start of his career was Glenn Michibata. After Michibata's retirement, Connell and Patrick Galbraith formed a successful partnership, winning 12 titles including the 1995 ATP Finals doubles trophy.

In the latter part of his career, Connell partnered with Byron Black and the duo won four titles together. Connell was a member of Canada's 1991 and 1992 teams, their first ever to qualify for the World Group.

#5 Gabriela Dabrowski

Gabriela Dabrowski and Rohan Bopanna with the 2017 French Open Trophy
Gabriela Dabrowski and Rohan Bopanna with the 2017 French Open Trophy

The first woman from Canada to win a Grand Slam title in any category is Gabriela Dabrowski. She achieved this feat at the 2017 French Open Championships, with Indian partner Rohan Bopanna.

The following year, she finished as the runner-up in mixed doubles at Roland Garros.

A doubles specialist, Dabrowski reached her career-high ranking of World Number 7 in March this year, and is presently ranked World Number 9. Her second Grand Slam title came at Australian Open this year, partnering Croatia's Mate Pavic.

In her fledgling tennis career, Dabrowski has won 8 WTA doubles titles and 2 mixed doubles titles. She is one of just four Canadian tennis players to have entered the Top 10 in the singles or doubles rankings.

Dabrowski's doubles partners in 2018 have been China's Xu Yifan and Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko.

#4 Sebastien Lareau

Sebastien Lareau and Daniel Nestor after winning the Gold Medal at the Sydney Olympics Games 2000
Sebastien Lareau and Daniel Nestor after winning the Gold Medal at the Sydney Olympics Games 2000

The first ever Canadian tennis athlete to win a Grand Slam title across any category was Sebastien Lareau. He achieved this feat at the 1999 US Open, with his American partner Alex O' Brien. The pair defeated the Indian duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in the final.

Lareau reached a career-high doubles ranking of World Number 4 in October 1999 following his US Open triumph. The same year he won the ATP Finals tournament, again with O' Brien.

Lareau continued his good form going into the 2000 tennis season, grabbing the gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games with compatriot Daniel Nestor. Remarkably, they beat home favorites and top seeds Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge in the final.

Lareau won a total of 17 ATP doubles titles, including four ATP Masters Series titles, in his career.

#3 Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard at the Rogers Cup
Eugenie Bouchard at the Rogers Cup

Named after Princess Eugenie of York, tennis sensation Eugenie Bouchard is a crowd puller wherever she goes. Her Hollywood looks and charming personality have made Bouchard one of the most marketable athletes in the world.

The 24-year-old attained a career-high ranking of World Number 5 in 2014. Having won the 'WTA Newcomer of the Year' Award in 2013, the following year was a breakthrough one for Bouchard as she made the semifinals of the Australian Open, and the French Open, and also the final at Wimbledon.

Her runner-up finish at Wimbledon made her the first and only Canadian woman until then to have played in the final of a Grand Slam singles event. Her 2014 exploits won her the 'WTA Most Improved Player of the Year' award.

Bouchard prefers to dictate play from the baseline with aggressive groundstrokes. She has had a slump in form in recent years, but fortunately for her time is still on her side.

She will look to come good and scale the heights that she achieved in 2014 again in the upcoming 2019 season.

#2 Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic with the 2016 Brisbane International trophy
Milos Raonic with the 2016 Brisbane International trophy

Monaco resident Milos Raonic is the highest ever ranked Canadian tennis player in the singles category. He achieved a career-high ranking of World Number 3 in November 2016.

Raonic has been a consistent performer at the ATP level for almost six years. With about $17.5 million in prize money, he is already ranked inside the top 25 highest prize-money earners of all time.

One of the most dominant servers on tour, Raonic has won a whopping 91% of the service games in his career. The 6'5" Canadian is currently coached by former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic.

Raonic's career highlight till date has been his performance at the Wimbledon Championships of 2016 where he beat Roger Federer in the semifinals. He would eventually finish runner-up to home favorite Andy Murray.

All eight of Raonic's ATP title wins have come on hard courts, with a pair each at the Chennai Open and the San Jose Open.

#1 Daniel Nestor

Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic at The Championships - Wimbledon 2013
Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic at The Championships - Wimbledon 2013

The recently retired Daniel Nestor is one of the greatest doubles players to have ever played the game. Nestor's career spanned 28 years, and during those years he notched up 1062 wins.

Nestor won a jaw-dropping 91 career doubles titles (second only to the Bryan twins). Significant among them are 8 Grand Slam Singles titles, the Olympic Gold Medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games with Sebastien Lareau, and 5 ATP Finals trophies.

He tasted considerable success at the mixed doubles level too, winning 4 Grand Slam titles overall.

Nestor was the first player in tennis history to win every single Grand Slam and Masters Series event, the Year End ATP Finals Championships and Olympic gold medal at least once in his career.

From 1991 to 2018, Nestor played with 76 partners in doubles and 26 partners in mixed doubles. He holds the record for having won titles in more countries than any other player.

Nestor has won titles with 43 different partners, in 38 distinct countries.

Edited by Musab Abid


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