By Mike McIntyre
In the past when Canada's singles tennis players crashed-out of a Grand Slam we could usually count on Daniel Nestor to still be around in the doubles draw to provide us with a sense of national pride. With Nestor now 44 and finally showing some signs of slowing down, it appears we might have another doubles specialist who can be relied upon if needed. Ottawa's Gaby Dabrowski has been on a great run in 2017 and is the last Canadian standing among the professional ranks at Wimbledon. Along with esteemed doubles veteran Rohan Bopanna, Dabrowski is alive and well in the mixed-doubles quarterfinals.
Dabrowski's began to serve notice that her game had made noticeable improvements early in 2017 when she unexpectedly won the Miami Open with partner Yifan Xu. Unseeded, they knocked-off the 2nd, 3rd and 4th seeds en route to the title. Not that Dabrowski had never flirted with doubles success prior to Miami, but a Masters 1000 title certainly makes people take notice.
Overall Dabrowski has four career doubles titles and last season she made the finals of the grass court tournament in Nottingham and then won on the lawns in Mallorca in her next event. Later in the season she pushed World No. 1 and 2 Bethanie Mattek-Sands and her partner Lucie Safarova in a very tight semifinal in Beijing before falling 4-6, 6-1, 14-12 with Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez once again at her side. Canadian tennis fans will also likely remember Dabrowski's run to the Rogers Cup semifinals in 2013 alongside Sharon Fichman that included a huge upset win over the World No. 1 tandem of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Dabrowski also won a gold medal in women's doubles at the 2015 Pan/Am Games in Toronto with Carol Zhao and a silver medal in mixed doubles with Philip Bester.
It has been in mixed doubles where Dabrowski has acheived her most impressive career results to-date. She has now made the quarterfinals or better of the past four Grand Slam tournaments in mixed doubles which is quite something considering that entails playing on three different surfaces. This year Dabrowski has made Canadian tennis history by capturing the French Open with Bopanna and in the process becoming the first Canadian woman to ever win a Grand Slam title. The contest came down to the wire with the duo prevailing over Anna-Lena Gronefeld and Robert Farah 2-6, 6-2, 12-10 and saving two match points in the process. After the win Dabrowski said that it was, "Very special. I mean, it's something that you always dream about as a kid. It's kind of funny, because you never know where the journey is going to take you, singles, doubles, now mixed doubles."
Like Nestor, it appears as though the journey to success as a professional tennis player for Dabrowski is when sharing the court in the doubles game. Tennis Canada and tennis fans across the country are eager to see where the journey will take Dabrowski next. They won't have to wait long as Dabrowski and Bopanna will play their quarter-final match Thursday against defending Wimbledon champions Heather Watson and Henri Kontinen. Should they make the finals and split the $50,000 pound winners cheque, that would push Dabrowski over the $1 million mark in career prize money. (She currently sits at $973,646 according to her WTA Tour player profile.)