Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 5 of the 2020 US Open.
Here comes Canada.
At the beginning of this year’s US Open, four Canadians had qualified for the men’s singles draw—and on Thursday, all four men were still in the running for the title. (On the women’s side, Canadian Leylah Fernandez lost against second-seed Sofia Kenin in the second round.) For a country that’s traditionally been as tennis-deprived as it’s been hockey-mad (which is to say, extremely so), this is an abnormally high number.
Since, Milos Raonic has fallen against Vasek Pospisil, bringing that number of Canadians down to only three but the point remains. For most of our lifetime, Canadians typically don’t last until the Fridays of Grand Slam events, typically don’t make the second or third rounds of singles draws at majors unless we’re talking about the second or third rounds of qualifying draws. Or if and when they do, it was in doubles.
But over the past decade or so, Tennis Canada revamped its entire belief system and poured time, money and resources into overhauling its program. We’ve been seeing the dividends of this hard work for the past few years.
Let’s just hope Bianca Andreescu can come back healthy before long.
Arthur Ashe Stadium: Naomi Osaka  vs Marta Kostyuk (12pm start)
Can we please, please have Naomi Osaka make her way through this draw all the way to the finals? We don’t ask for much in this life but this would absolutely thrill us.
Yesterday, Naomi Osaka walked out in a Breonna Taylor mask.
Today, Elijah McClain. pic.twitter.com/ZAcW6OCep9
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 3, 2020
The Japanese, you see, has had seven custom masks made, seemingly and likely each one of them with the name of an African American who’s been slain at the hands of law enforcement recently etched on it, and she’s wearing each one before and after every match she wins. Now all we need is for her to reach the final to make sure we’ve seen all seven masks.
Arthur Ashe Stadium: Denis Shapovalov  vs Taylor Fritz  (Not before 1:30pm)
Welcome to the battle of the future of North American men’s tennis. Canadian Denis Shapovalov has always played thrilling tennis and it’s been especially true over the past few days. Opposite him will be American Taylor Fritz, who while a little more new to the limelight still is no slouch himself. Fritz has steadily ascended the rankings over the past few years and he could be poised for a splash. A win today against Shapovalov and on this stage would qualify as such.
Louis Armstrong Stadium: Alexander Zverev  vs Adrian Mannarino  (Third day match)
Since first competing at the event, 23-year-old Alexander Zverev has successively made the first, second (twice), third and fourth rounds. If he’s to keep the streak going, he needs to overtake the Frenchman Adrian Mannarino before a likely easy match afterward—although there are no easy Grand Slam matches for Zverev.
The German is undeniably a great force in men’s tennis despite his young age but he’ll need to be a little more regular at majors before we anoint him the future of the sport. Still, Mannarino shouldn’t be a problem for Zverev. Probably.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG