Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada plays a shot against Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their semifinal match at the ATP Cup tennis tournament in Sydney, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Auger-Aliassime, the top-ranked Canadian at the Australian Open, will open play at the first tennis  major of the year against Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Steve Christo

Canada’s Auger-Aliassime faces 90th-ranked Finn to kick off Australian Open campaign

MELBOURNE, Australia — Felix Auger-Aliassime, the top-ranked Canadian at the Australian Open, will face Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori in the first round of the first tennis major of the year.

The 21-year-old from Montreal is ranked ninth in the world compared to No. 90 for the 22-year-old Finn. But Ruusuvuori showed little respect for the numbers at last year’s Miami Open when he upset world No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in second-round play for only his second career win over a top-10 opponent.

Auger-Aliassime reached the semfinals at the U.S. Open, his last major, where he lost to eventual champion Daniil Medvedev of Russia. The Canadian made it to the fourth round of last year’s Australian Open before losing to Russian Aslan Karatsev.

Auger-Aliassime, who captained Team Canada to the ATP Cup in Sydney last week, could face another Russian, fifth seed Andrey Rublev, in the fourth round this year.

Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., ranked 14th, will open against Serbia’s Laslo Djere, ranked No. 52.

The 22-year-old Shapovalov made it to the semifinals of last year’s Wimbledon, losing to another Serbian — world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Shapovalov reached the third round of last year’s Australian Open, losing to Auger-Aliassime.

He could face Zverev, seeded third, in the fourth round.

Leylah Annie Fernandez of Laval, Que., was drawn against Australian wild card Maddison Inglis, ranked 139th in the world.

Fernandez, seeded 23rd this year, was knocked out in the first round by No. 18 seed Elise Mertens in Melbourne last year. But she went on to reach the final of the U.S. Open before losing to Britain’s Emma Raducanu.

The 19-year-old could face a tough road with 16th seed Angelique Kerber of Germany and second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus possibly awaiting in rounds three and four, respectively. Fernandez beat Sabalenka in the U.S. Open semifinal.

Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino won her first two qualifying matches and will make the main draw with a victory over Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova.

Brayden Schnur of Pickering, Ont., lost his first-round qualifying match to Argentina’s Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2022.

The Canadian Press