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Felix Auger-Aliassime can close an eventful tennis year in style

CBC Sports' daily newsletter previews the key events left in an interesting tennis season, including Felix Auger-Aliassime's bid for a fourth consecutive title.

Canadian's 3-event win streak puts him on verge of ATP Finals

Felix Auger-Aliassime's three-tournament winning streak has put him on the verge of qualifying for the prestigious ATP Finals. (Daniel Kopatsch/Getty Images)

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The 2022 tennis season has been an interesting one, for better or worse. In the worse column, we've seen 21-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic throw away two majors because of his refusal to get vaccinated, while the invasion of Ukraine resulted in Russian and Belarusian players being banned from Wimbledon. On the better side, Rafael Nadal raised the men's Grand Slam singles titles record to 22, Carlos Alcaraz' first Slam trophy made the 19-year-old the youngest men's No. 1 in history, and Iga Swiatek emerged as the dominant force in the women's game by capturing eight titles, including a pair of Slams. Plus, arguably the two greatest players of all time — Roger Federer and Serena Williams — said goodbye to the sport (or so it seemed).

And we're not done yet. With a few weeks left in the season, Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime is suddenly the hottest player in tennis, and he and other Canadians are preparing to play in some big events. Here's what to know as a fascinating year of tennis comes to a close:

This could be a very big month for Felix.

The 22-year-old Canadian heads into the indoor Paris Masters event on a serious roll. After back-to-back victories at lower-tier tournaments in Italy and Belgium where he didn't face anyone ranked in the top 25, Auger-Aliassime stepped up in class last week at the more competitive Swiss Indoors. He answered the challenge by beating world Alcaraz in the semifinals en route to winning his third consecutive tournament. That ran Felix's winning streak to 13 matches and raised his world ranking to a career high-matching No. 8.

Another trophy this week in France would give Auger-Aliassime five tournament titles in 2022, tying Alcaraz for the men's season lead. It won't be easy: Masters-level tournaments trail only the Grand Slams and the season-ending ATP Finals in terms of prize money, rankings points and prestige, so they tend to draw the best players. Except for injured No. 6 Alexander Zverev, everyone ranked ahead of Auger-Aliassime is here. That's Alcaraz, Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Djokvoic.

WATCH | Canada's Auger-Aliassime wins Swiss Indoors:

Auger-Aliassime stays scorching hot with Swiss Indoors title win

2 years ago
Duration 2:56
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime collected his third-straight ATP title after defeating Holger Rune in straight sets on Sunday in Basel.

But even if Felix' winning streak ends in Paris, he can still grab his first-ever spot in the lucrative ATP Finals, starting Nov. 14 in Italy. Only eight players get invited to the championship, where the winner can clear up to $4.7 million US depending on how many matches he wins (for comparison, the U.S. Open champ got "only" $2.6 million this year).

Felix is currently sixth in the season-long points race, but 10th-place Djokovic is guaranteed a spot because of his Grand Slam win at Wimbledon. The five players ahead of Felix have also clinched, leaving two Finals spots up for grabs in Paris, the final regular stop on this year's ATP Tour. Four men are still in contention for them, but Auger-Aliassime's chances are very good. Even if he loses his opening match Wednesday vs. 74th-ranked Mikael Ymer of Sweden, the only way Auger-Aliassime misses out on the ATP Finals is if eighth-place Taylor Fritz wins the title and defeats seventh-place Andrey Rublev in the semifinals. Fritz advanced to the round of 32 today while Rublev advanced to the round of 16.

Also competing in Paris is Canada's 16th-ranked Denis Shapovalov, who's not in contention to reach the ATP Finals. His first-round match was in progress at our publish time.

The week after the ATP Finals, Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov will lead the Canadian team into the decisive stage of the Davis Cup Finals. In September, Auger-Aliassime upset Alcaraz in singles to propel Canada to a win over Spain in a group-stage matchup. While Spain still won the group, that victory helped Canada advance to the eight-team knockout round, where they'll face Germany on Nov. 24.

Two key events remain in the women's season — and Canada has an entry in both.

The WTA Finals began yesterday in Fort Worth, Tex. No Canadians qualified for the eight-player singles tournament, but Gabriela Dabrowski has a good shot to win the doubles. She and her Mexican teammate Giuliana Olmos are seeded No. 2 after winning two tournaments together this year. They play their first match of the group stage tonight at around 9:15 p.m. ET vs. the seventh-seeded duo of Anna Danilina (Kazakhstan) and Beatriz Haddad Maia (Brazil).

Dabrowki will also play for Canada at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals next week in Scotland. She'll be joined by Leylah Fernandez, Bianca Andreescu, Rebecca Marino and Carol Zhao. The Canadian team's group-stage opponents are Italy (on Nov. 10) and Switzerland (Nov. 11). The top team from each of the four groups advances to the semifinals.

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