Canada’s Best: Felix Sets Raonic Meeting In Montreal
#NextGenATP Canadian beloved in his hometown
Felix Auger-Aliassime notched his 36th career match win on Tuesday at the Coupe Rogers, and nearly 10 per cent of those wins have come against his Montreal opponent, countryman Vasek Pospisil.
The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime, who has a birthday on Thursday, fought off nerves and fed off his home crowd to advance 6-2, 6-7(3), 7-6(3) against the 29-year-old Pospisil, who’s still on the comeback from January back surgery.
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Neither player faced a break point in the decider, but Auger-Aliassime gained momentum after overcoming a 0/30 deficit at 4-4 in the final set. He ran away in the tie-break, improving to 2-1 in Canada when Pospisil lifted a forehand long.
The #NextGenATP Canadian will next meet Canada’s No. 1 Milos Raonic, who reached the 2013 Montreal final. Auger-Aliassime is currently in 11th place in the ATP Race To London. The top eight will qualify for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 10-17 November.
Argentine Guido Pella scored a 6-4, 7-6(4) upset against 15th seed David Goffin. The left-handed Pella won the third-most matches on clay this year, but is increasingly showing he can excel on any surface. The 29-year-old reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals last month. He will next meet Moldovan Radu Albot, who beat Gilles Simon of France 6-4, 6-2.
Britain’s Dan Evans will meet Rafael Nadal for the first time at tour level after beating Australian Alex de Minaur in straight sets at the Rogers Cup.
Evans, 29, won 6-4 7-6 (8-6) to set up a second-round match against Spain’s 18-time Grand Slam champion Nadal.
Evans won a 51-shot rally on his way to a break in the first game of the match, then survived two break points to edge a tight opening set in a hot Montreal.
After exchanging serves, Evans took his second match point in the tie-break.
Evans missed the first on De Minaur’s serve at 6-5, only for the 20-year-old Australian – who is ranked 38th in the world and has won two ATP Tour titles this year – to overhit a volley and give him another opportunity.
That left Evans serving for the match and the world number 53 sealed a tantalising meeting with Nadal when De Minaur hit a backhand long.
“It was so hot, I’m just happy to get through. I’m good physically so I never doubt myself but it is hard out here,” Evans said.
Spanish great Nadal, who is the top seed and defending champion at the ATP 1,000 event, received a first-round bye in his first tournament since losing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon semi-final last month.
Evans missed out on the chance to play world number two Nadal at the All England Club when he lost to Portugal’s Joao Sousa in the third round.
In the men’s doubles, Britain’s Joe Salisbury and his American playing partner Rajeev Ram won 7-5 7-5 against the all-British pairing of Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski.
American fires 26 aces en route to second round at Coupe Rogers
John Isner put a halt to his troubled early tie-break record during the US Open series during a tense three-set win over Jordan Thompson in the first round of the Coupe Rogers in Montreal.
The 12th seed, who had lost three of his four tie-breaks in Atlanta and Washington, defeated Thompson 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6), closing out the match with his 26th ace. The 6′ 10″ American next plays Chilean Cristian Garin.
Marin Cilic survived 19 aces from American Bradley Klahn to reach the second round with a 6-3, 7-6(7) win in one hour, 38 minutes. The 14th seed, who did not face a break point, will next play Australian lucky loser John Millman, who rallied from a break down in the third set to defeat Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-3 after two hours and 33 minutes.
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“Bradley was serving really big. I wasn’t expecting him to hold his serve like that,” Cilic said. “He kept the pressure on and it was only decided in a second-set tie-break, so it could have gone his way. I’m glad I played well in crucial moments.”
British qualifier Daniel Evans came up clutch against recent Atlanta champion Alex de Minaur in a 6-4, 7-6(6) first-round win, saving seven of eight break points faced and converting both break chances on the Australian’s serve. Evans will next confront top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal.
There were mixed results for last week’s Abierto de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex finalists. Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who won the ATP 250 tennis tournament, fought past Italian Marco Cecchinato 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 after two hours and 35 minutes. Meanwhile, runner-up Taylor Fritz fell to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 7-5.
Schwartzman will look to extend his winning streak when he faces 10th-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. Hurkacz, 22, will attempt to record his third win over a Top 10 opponent in ATP Masters 1000 action this season (Nishikori in Indian Wells, Thiem in Miami) when he meets 2018 finalist and fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-0.
Roddick Explains Why He Feels Felix Is The ‘Next Best Prospect’
Former No. 1 explains what makes the #NextGenATP Canadian stand out
Former World No. 1 Andy Roddick retired nearly seven years ago, but the American still keeps a close eye on the sport. He admitted that he was a ‘total fan’ during the Wimbledon final in which Novak Djokovic saved championship points against Roger Federer.
Roddick is also a fan of a player who is first beginning his journey on the ATP Tour: #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.
“No one knew who Auger-Aliassime was three years ago and now all of a sudden he looks like the next best prospect,” Roddick said. “I wish he lived a thousand miles further south.”
The 18-year-old is the youngest player in the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings, climbing as high as World No. 21. Before this season, Auger-Aliassime owned only six tour-level wins. He has 29 this year already, including trips to his first three ATP Tour finals (Rio de Janeiro, Lyon, Stuttgart) and his maiden ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami.
But how has Felix managed such a rapid rise at his age?
“Something I look for is easy power. I think most guys on [the ATP] Tour, if they set up and want to hit a ball hard, they can. The really, really great ones — you think of Roger, I think of a guy like Tomas Berdych — it doesn’t look like he’s swinging out of his shoes, but the ball kind of launches off of his racquet. And maybe you can’t see the ball on TV, but you can feel it playing against him,” Roddick said. “Felix seems to have that easy power. When he’s going after a ball, it doesn’t look out of sorts. It looks like the technique is pretty much the same.”
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That has also led to consistency in Auger-Aliassime’s results this year. From the start of the Rio Open presented by Claro — an ATP 500 tournament held in February where he made his first ATP Tour final — the Canadian has lost his first match just once in 13 tournaments, advancing to at least the semi-finals five times.
Not only is Felix placed second in the ATP Race To Milan for a spot at the Next Gen ATP Finals in November, but he is also 11th in the ATP Race To London, from which the Top 8 players qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals. With all that in mind, Roddick believes that Auger-Aliassime has nowhere to go but up.
“Things that will improve when you’re young, when you’re 18, movement always gets better, power always becomes more. That’s just going to happen, and he already does both of those things pretty well,” Roddick said. “Even looking at his serve from last summer, I’ll get the statistics wrong, but I want to say it looked like a 115, 120 serve and now all of a sudden you look at him this summer and it’s looking like 125, 130, starting to look like a weapon, and that should be scary for a lot of people.”
Auger-Aliassime currently ranks 11th on the ATP Tour this year in aces with 383. He is also inside the Top 20 in first-serve points won on the season at a clip of more than 74 per cent.
But Roddick says that he likes a lot about the #NextGenATP star’s game. The American sees some common threads with current and recent legends of the sport, specifically in his footwork.
“He moves well already. If you look at the guys that win early, you’re looking at a Hewitt or a Roger or a Rafa, all those guys moved well from a young age,” Roddick said. “That’s certainly not a recessing asset. You get to 21, 22, 23 years old [and it only gets better].”
Did You Know? Auger-Aliassime is set to face countryman Vasek Pospisil in the first round. The teen has won both of their previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, which came in the first round at last year’s BNP Paribas Open and this season at Wimbledon.
Zverev/Rublev Prevail On Upset-Filled Opening Day In Montreal
Top seeds bow out on Monday
Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev prevailed in a wild day of doubles at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal, moving into the second round over third seeds Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares 6-3, 7-6(3). All three seeded teams who took the court on Monday fell at their opening hurdle.
Robin Haase and Wesley Koolhof scored the biggest upset of the day by defeating top seeds and reigning Wimbledon champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-5, 7-6(4). Haase/Koolhof rallied from 2-5 down in both sets, saving two set points in the opening set and three set points in the second set before going on to prevail in one hour and 30 minutes.
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Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies completed the hat trick of seeded players falling on Day 1. The Germans advanced with a 7-5, 4-6, 10-6 victory against eighth seeds Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor.
French duo Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin saved a set point in the first-set tie-break en route to defeating Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil 7-6(7), 7-5. Aussies Alex de Minaur and Jordan Thompson rounded out the day by taking out Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner 6-4, 7-6(3).
Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez headline doubles action on Tuesday when they face second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo. Murray/Lopez took the title in their debut outing together this June at the Fever-Tree Championships (d. Ram/Salisbury).
Milos Raonic, Kickstarter Of A Canadian Surge, Still Going Strong
Former World No. 3 pursuing another deep run in Montreal after 2013 final
There’s plenty of buzz surrounding Canadian stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov throughout the world, and that excitement is no more apparent than in Montreal this week at the Coupe Rogers. Earlier this year, the #NextGenATP sensations both made the semi-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Miami, and they have each cracked the Top 25 of the ATP Rankings.
But on Monday afternoon, the crowd inside Court Central roared to life as the stadium’s emcee read out another player’s resumé, which includes a run to the 2013 final here in Montreal. It was the first main draw match of the tournament, but the fans were plenty energetic in their support of this 6’5” right-hander, who boomed 16 aces en route to a 6-4, 6-4 win against Lucas Pouille.
While the hype surrounding Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov has clearly been warranted by their results, it was former World No. 3 Milos Raonic who led the surge of Canadian tennis nearly a decade ago, breaking onto the ATP Tour in 2011. The 28-year-old says that the love his home nation shows him never gets old.
“It’s exciting. It’s one of the most exciting parts about this whole journey. Obviously being here, it’s definitely magnified in that perspective. But I think there’s a lot of Canadians and a lot of support throughout other parts of the world,” Raonic said. “That has changed significantly from 2011, when I broke through, to how it is now, how many Canadians come out all over the world to watch and support tennis.
“I think once tennis is done for me, that’s probably the thing I’ll miss the most.”
Raonic has consistently shown his ability to compete against the best players in the world, lifting eight ATP Tour trophies, finishing inside the year-end Top 20 of the ATP Rankings six times, and advancing to at least the quarter-finals at nine Grand Slam championships. So although Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov are certainly helping the tennis boom in this country, Raonic was one of the keys to getting it started.
“It’s nice to have more and more people engaged throughout the whole calendar year,” Raonic said. “I think generally for the growth of tennis in Canada… now with different broadcasters picking up the tennis, to have that kind of consistency of a Canadian contingency on TV week in, week out, I think that’s all very healthy, very positive. To have two young guys with very high prospects, as well, it’s nothing but positive for Canadian tennis.”
When Auger-Aliassime was only 12 years old, Raonic made the championship match here at the Coupe Rogers, defeating countryman Vasek Pospisil in the semi-finals. Two Canadians making their way to the bookend of such a big tournament was inspiring to an entire nation’s youth hoping to one day fill those shoes.
“I grew up watching him. He’s been great. I think he gave us a lot of belief that it was possible,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I think for the country also it was great when he would play Davis Cup. He was a solid player, just like Vasek. I think these guys played well every time they play for the country. That was good to see.”
Pospisil has not yet reached the same heights as Raonic since their run at the Coupe Rogers, climbing as high as World No. 25. But the 29-year-old has been inspired by his compatriot’s efforts nonetheless.
“He’s obviously done a lot of things right over the years to stay at the high level. We were rivals through juniors. We’re the same age. I know Milos extremely well. I think for sure his original push up the [ATP] Rankings definitely motivated me,” said Pospisil, who came up about a year after Raonic. “I’m sure in some ways that was motivating. I think it had a positive effect on my career, as well. So I think… he’s done really well. Definitely helped Canadian tennis, for sure.”
Recently-retired Canadian tennis legend Daniel Nestor, who won 1,062 tour-level doubles matches, has not lost sight of Raonic’s accomplishments during this #NextGenATP Canadian surge. Although he’s thrilled with the buzz surrounding the sport in this country, Nestor knows a lot of it has to do with Raonic, too.
“I think he’s doing really well. I think we’re all amazed at how well he does considering how little he plays… every time he plays he seems to be in the semi-finals or doing fairly well,” Nestor said. “I think he’s obviously got goals of winning a Grand Slam… so I think if people have taken him for granted, that’s too bad because I think he still has the best chance of all of them to win a Grand Slam for now.”
This Masters 1000 event alternates cities between Montreal (odd years) and Toronto (even years). And perhaps surprisingly, Raonic had not won a match in Montreal since his 2013 final run entering Monday. But the veteran didn’t show any weight on his shoulders to move to 4-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Pouille.
“It wasn’t something on my mind by any means. I’m aware of it. I remember my matches quite well. So it’s not something that I just miraculously forgot,” Raonic said. “It was good. It was a positive thing for me. It was a tough first round against Lucas, who beat me in the quarters this year in Australia. To come out, to play well, to sort of get the wheels going in a positive way, I have to be happy with that.”
#NextGenATP Canadian looking to make another run at home
It was as if it was 2017 all over again. Denis Shapovalov had the Montreal crowd roaring again on Monday night during his Coupe Rogers opener.
The #NextGenATP Canadian, who made his breakthrough two years ago at the ATP Masters 1000 event, brought some of his best tennis to snap a five-match losing streak and advance 6-3, 7-5 against Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Shapovalov broke four times, including in the final games of both sets as the 20-year-old ramped up pressure against the serve-and-volleying right-hander. Shapovalov was swinging freely from the back of the court and never missing a moment to engage the red-and-white faithful in the stands.
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He donated eight double faults – and 32 unforced errors – but lost his serve only once, at the start the second set. But Shapovalov broke back immediately.
The left-hander is looking to reignite his 2019 at home. Shapovalov made his third Masters 1000 semi-final in March at the Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Federer), but since, he hasn’t won two consecutive matches.
He will next meet World No. 4 Dominic Thiem, who’s also trying to end an unfavourable streak. Thiem has never won a match at the Canadian Masters 1000 (0-5). He won his third ATP Tour title of the season on Saturday at the clay-court Generali Open in Kitzbuhel.
Two years ago in Montreal, Shapovalov made his first Masters 1000 semi-final, beating Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal en route to becoming the youngest Masters 1000 quarter-finalist and semi-finalist in series history (since 1990). Shapovalov, a wild-card entry and No. 143 at the time, captivated the Canadian crowd with his fist pumps, shouts of “Come on!” and aesthetically-pleasing game.
Save for his his bumpy ride of late, the left-hander has steadily climbed the ATP Rankings since then, reaching a career-best No. 20 on 1 April.
In other action, 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut went three-for-three on break points against Aussie Bernard Tomic and advanced 6-3, 6-2. The Spaniard will next meet Los Cabos titlist Diego Schwartzman or Italian Marco Cecchinato. Frenchman Richard Gasquet ousted countryman Benoit Paire 7-6(2), 6-4 and awaits fifth seed Kei Nishikori.
Did You Know? Two years ago, Shapovalov also became the lowest-ranked Masters 1000 semi-finalist since 2003 (No. 191 Pavel).
Infosys ATP Insights shows how the Spaniard comes back from 40/0 down better than anyone
It’s the toughest stat in tennis. It’s basically a one out of 100 shot in the dark…
This specific situation is so rough for players in the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings that achieving it just once in half a season is considered a success. Quite a few players at the elite level of our sport actually fail to even get on the board.
What statistic could be so diabolical? Breaking serve from a 40/0 scoreline.
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An Infosys ATP Insights deep dive of the Top 50 players breaking serve from 40/0 from the start of the 2019 season up to this current week uncovers that they average breaking serve from this black hole just 1.38 per cent (84/6072) of the time. It’s such a dire situation that eight Top 50 (16%) players have failed to accomplish it even once so far in 2019.
Who is the leader of the pack in climbing out this incredibly precarious situation? None other than Rafael Nadal, who is the only player in 2019 to break serve from 40/0 five times. The 10 leading players in the Top 50 who have the best break percentage when returning at 40/0 are highlighted in the table below.
2019 Season: Top 50 Current To This Week – Percentage Breaking From 40/0
Game Won Returning From 40/0
Total Games Trailing 40/0
Alex de Minaur
Special mention must go to Taylor Fritz, who is in the group of players who have broken three times from 40/0 this season. But he has done it from 172 attempts, which drops his overall win percentage down to 13th best, at 1.74 per cent.
The only two players to break more than three times from a 40/0 hole so far in 2019 are No. 18 David Goffin and No. 37 Laslo Djere, who have both broken four times this season. Below is a breakdown of how many times the current Top 50 have broken from 40/0. The most abundant total is two times, accounting for 16 players.
Top 50 Analysis: Total Players Breaking From 40/0 5 breaks from 40/0 = 1 player 4 breaks from 40/0 = 2 players 3 breaks from 40/0 = 8 players 2 breaks from 40/0 = 16 players 1 break from 40/0 = 15 players 0 breaks from 40/0 = 8 players
The moral of the story is to never give up, no matter how much the odds are stacked against you. There is always a way out of the darkest hole.
Preview & Schedule: Kyrgios, Zverev Kick Off Montreal Campaigns
Montreal native Auger-Aliassime headlines Tuesday schedule
Nick Kyrgios proved he’s still one of the world’s elite players by taking the title last week at the Citi Open. He now looks to show that he can back up big results when he headlines Tuesday’s night session against Kyle Edmund at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal.
“I’ve had people behind me, backing me, and they never lost faith in me even when I lost faith in myself,” said Kyrgios after winning the title in Washington, D.C. “It’s great to get the win, but I’ve proved to myself and the people backing me that I can still produce at the highest level.”
The Aussie scored back-to-back Top 10 wins last week over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev to clinch his sixth ATP Tour crown. However, Kyrgios has struggled with consistency this year. His outstanding run to the title this March in Acapulco, which included wins over Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev, was followed by a 5-7 record heading into the North American hard-court swing.
But Kyrgios is taking a day-by-day approach to his recent success. He’ll need to bring his best against Edmund, who he leads 1-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The 24-year-old Brit has shown improved form in recent weeks, reaching the semi-finals on grass in Eastbourne and recording a quarter-final finish in Washington, D.C.
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Third-seeded German and 2017 champion Alexander Zverev returns to the site of his first hard-court ATP Masters 1000 title when he faces Brit Cameron Norrie. Zverev defeated Norrie in their lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting this year in Acapulco.
Although Zverev’s form hasn’t been as strong as his previous two seasons, he prevailed this year in Geneva (d. Jarry) and is currently in ninth place in the ATP Race to London. The 22-year-old is optimistic that the positive memories he has of Montreal will rekindle his best tennis.
“It helps going back to places where you know you have done well, where you have won the tournament and you feel comfortable,” said Zverev. “I hope this will be the case. I hope this place will help me on court and we will see how it goes.”
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All eyes will be on Montreal native Felix Auger-Aliassime when he takes on Vasek Pospisil in an all-Canadian clash. The #NextGenATP star leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Pospisil 2-0, including a win last month at Wimbledon.
Auger-Aliassime has jumped more than 100 spots in the ATP Rankings since playing here last year and reached his first three ATP Tour finals this season in Rio de Janeiro, Lyon and Stuttgart. Pospisil missed the first half of this year after undergoing back surgery in January.
“I’d be lying if I said that I’m going on the court and it just feels like any other tournament,” said Auger-Aliiassime. “It feels special. Hopefully I can use that energy and that support in a good way.”
Other notable matches on Tuesday include No. 11 seed Borna Coric of Croatia taking on German Peter Gojowczyk, No. 12 seed John Isner of the United States battling Aussie Jordan Thompson and No. 14 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia squaring off with American qualifier Bradley Klahn. Andy Murray also hits the doubles court with Feliciano Lopez as they face second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.
ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, 6 August 2019
Court Centrale start 12:00 noon  Marin Cilic vs [Q] Bradley Klahn NB 2:00 pm Felix Auger-Aliassime vs [WC] Vasek Pospisil NB 6:30 pm Nick Kyrgios vs Kyle Edmund  Alexander Zverev vs Cameron Norrie
Banque Nationale start 12:00 noon  Jordan Thompson vs John Isner  David Goffin vs Guido Pella  Borna Coric vs Peter Gojowczyk NB 6:30 pm  Nikoloz Basilashvili vs Jan-Lennard Struff
Click here to view the schedule for all other courts.