In 1999 Sébastien Laureau had one of the most memorable professional tennis seasons ever for a Canadian tennis player. Combining with three different partners over the course of the season, he won seven different tournaments, including the US Open, becoming the first Canadian ever to win a Grand Slam event. He and Alex O'Brien of the US defeated the Indian pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes in the US Open final. Lareau and O'Brien also won tournaments in London and Paris and capped the season in Hartford, US, by winning the world doubles championship. Lareau also teamed with Daniel NESTOR (who would be his gold-medal partner at the 2000 Olympic Games) to win events in Sydney, Australia, and Shanghai, and with Justin Gimelstob of the US to win an event in Washington, DC. A year later Lareau won three more tournaments, including the Olympic event. He and Nestor were also among the few Canadians to ever win a major professional event in their own country, the Masters-Series Canada title in Toronto. In 2000 at Sydney, he and Nestor defeated US favourites Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) to capture Canada's first-ever Olympic tennis gold medal. The victory vaulted Lareau and Nestor onto the front pages of newspapers across the country. Canadian sports editors and broadcasters subsequently named the duo Canada's team of the year in 2000.
In total, Sébastien Laureau has won 17 professional doubles titles and has achieved a career-high ranking of fourth in the world. In singles play, his career has been less distinguished, although he has managed victories over professional stars Michael Chang and Jim Courier of the United States, Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, Alex Corretja of Spain and Sweden's Magnus Norman. Sébastien Laureau has played on Canada's DAVIS CUP team since 1991, and holds a 17-16 singles record and 12-2 doubles mark in Davis Cup play. His career stalled after Sydney 2000 because of injuries, forcing him off the professional circuit during what would have been prime money-winning years. He retired from professional competition in 2001 and was inducted into the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.
Author ALLEN CAMERON
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