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Thiem Ready For ‘Great Encounter’ Against Auger-Aliassime

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2020

Thiem Ready For ‘Great Encounter’ Against Auger-Aliassime

Medvedev, Berrettini also in action

Two of the biggest talents on the ATP Tour — Dominic Thiem and Felix Auger-Aliassime — will meet for the first time on Monday, with a place in the US Open quarter-finals on the line.

Second seed Thiem will continue his bid for a maiden Grand Slam trophy, just two days after eliminating 2014 champion Marin Cilic to earn the final spot in the Round of 16. The World No. 3 has played well through the opening three rounds in New York, landing 103 winners to record his first wins since the resumption of the ATP Tour.

The World No. 3 entered the second Grand Slam championship of the year short of match practice, following a straight-sets loss to Filip Krajinovic in his opening match at the Western & Southern Open. But the 27-year-old has played at a high level at the US Open and will aim to use his greater experience at the Grand Slam level to his advantage against the Canadian.

“[Felix is] a great player… No real weaknesses. Great to watch. Great athlete, great person,” said Thiem. “The only thing that he’s missing is the experience. That’s what I’m trying to play for my advantage. It’s not my first second week at a Grand Slam, but it is his. That’s probably my biggest advantage what I have in this match.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m always looking forward to playing against these young superstars, as I’m 27 for a few days, not young anymore. I think it is going to be a great encounter.”

Auger-Aliassime is through to the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam event for the first time. After a four-set battle in the first round against Thiago Monteiro, the 20-year-old has cruised through his past two matches.

Auger-Aliassime landed 52 winners to end 2012 champion Andy Murray’s campaign in the second round and raced past Frenchman Corentin Moutet in less than two hours. The World No. 21 is excited by the opportunity to test his skills against one of the leading stars of the ATP Tour on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Obviously Dominic has been getting stronger and stronger year after year,” said Auger-Aliassime. “You feel like step by step he’s been reaching later stages of these tournaments, really becoming like a power in the tennis world.

“For me, it would be a good matchup, interesting matchup for now, obviously to test myself against the best in the world, against the second seed of this tournament.”

The winner of Thiem and Auger-Aliassime’s clash will face Alex de Minaur or Vasek Pospisil for a spot in the semi-finals. Both players came from two-sets-to-one down to defeat higher-ranked opposition on Saturday.

De Minaur, the 21st seed, has beaten 2013 semi-finalist Richard Gasquet and Karen Khachanov to reach the fourth round in New York for the second straight year. Pospisil will aim to add to his impressive list of US Open wins this year, which already includes Western & Southern Open runner-up Milos Raonic and eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

De Minaur will enter Louis Armstrong Stadium with a 2-0 ATP Head2Head record against Pospisil. The Sydney native claimed hard-court victories against the Canadian in 2018 at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. and the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

<a href=Alex de Minaur is through to the US Open fourth round for the second straight year.” />

In the night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium, last year’s finalist Daniil Medvedev will aim to reach his second straight quarter-final with victory against Frances Tiafoe.

The Western & Southern Open quarter-finalist made swift progress through the first week in New York, recording straight-sets wins against Federico Delbonis, Christopher O’Connell and J.J. Wolf. Medvedev will hope to improve on his 1-2 record in Grand Slam fourth-round matches, having fallen at this stage during his past two visits to the Australian Open.

Tiafoe, the last American man in the singles draw, is competing in the fourth round at the US Open for the first time. The 22-year-old, who survived a five-set battle against John Millman in the second round, is also attempting to reach his second Grand Slam quarter-final. The American beat Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov en route to the 2019 Australian Open quarter-finals.

Medvedev is unbeaten in two ATP Head2Head encounters against Tiafoe. The Russian has already beaten Tiafoe in Grand Slam competition this year, following a four-set victory in the Australian Open first round.

Sixth seed Matteo Berrettini and 10th seed Andrey Rublev will both attempt to extend their perfect US Open starts when they meet on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Both men are yet to drop a set in New York and will be attempting to reach their second US Open quarter-final.

Last year’s semi-finalist Berrettini has taken just over two hours to win each of his three matches, but Rublev has made even quicker progress to the Round of 16. In his third-round match against Salvatore Caruso, Rublev dropped just four games to advance in 84 minutes.

This is the second straight year that Berrettini and Rublev will meet in the US Open fourth round. Berrettini recorded a straight-sets win last year, en route to his maiden Grand Slam semi-final. The 24-year-old owns a 3-1 ATP Head2Head record against Rublev.

ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM start 12:00 pm
WTA Match

Not Before 2:00 pm
[15] Felix Auger-Aliassime v [2] Dominic Thiem

Not Before 7:00 pm
Frances Tiafoe v [3] Daniil Medvedev
WTA Match

Vasek Pospisil v [21] Alex de Minaur
WTA Match
[6] Matteo Berrettini v [10] Andrey Rublev

Not Before 5:00 pm
WTA Match

Click here to view the full US Open Day 8 schedule.

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Shapovalov, Felix & Pospisil Make History In 'Golden Era For Canadian Tennis'

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2020

Shapovalov, Felix & Pospisil Make History In ‘Golden Era For Canadian Tennis’

Three Canadians into Grand Slam fourth round for the first time

Canadian tennis has been on the radar for several years, from Milos Raonic climbing to a career-high No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov shining under the #NextGenATP spotlight. At this US Open, Canadians have been doing better than ever, with three men from the country reaching the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Shapovalov rallied from the brink of defeat to oust Taylor Fritz on Friday, while on Saturday Auger-Aliassime cruised against Corentin Moutet and Vasek Pospisil battled past eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut. Before this tournament, no Canadian trio had reached the third round of a major.

“I think tennis is already booming now in Canada over the last few years with Genie [Bouchard], Milos and myself and now Felix, Denis and Bianca [Andreescu], so we are definitely in a bit of a golden era for tennis in Canada,” Pospisil said. “Tennis has obviously been a huge and incredible part of my life. It has given me so many amazing memories and opportunities for the rest of my life, so I am thrilled that it is doing so well right now in Canada and I do think now that a lot of kids are picking up racquets over hockey sticks. Maybe there is a little bit of a shift.”

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Auger-Aliassime <a href=US Open 2020 Forehand” />
Photo Credit: Darren Carroll/USTA
Much of the attention over the past couple of years has gone to Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov. They are the two youngest players in the world’s Top 50 and both are inside the Top 25. Canadian NBA legend Steve Nash told last September how important the duo is for tennis in their country.

“Both Denis and Felix have big, big games. [They’re] great athletes who have a lot of shots. Both I think have incredible futures,” Nash said. “The best players are the ones that get on top of their game mentally. Those young players are showing great signs. They have all the tools, and if they just continue to develop that grit and understanding, they’re going to be Top 5, Top 10 players in the world, easy.

“Denis has got all the shots. Big, big groundstrokes. Big serve. When he’s on fire, he’s unbeatable. He’s one of those guys who’s an electric player. When he gets hot, he’s unstoppable. As he gets older I think he’s going to be one of those guys who’s so hard to beat even when he doesn’t have his best stuff.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Shapovalov first broke through at the 2017 Coupe Rogers, defeating Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal en route to the semi-finals as an 18-year-old. Auger-Aliassime received attention from his early teens, becoming the youngest player to win an ATP Challenger Tour match at 14. But instead of clashing, they have driven one another to success.

“I think we have always had a competitive friendship, rivalry, from the junior days. I feel like we have always been competing against each other, pushing each other all the way to the top and I am sure we will continue to do so,” Shapovalov said. “I think that is going to be the case for the rest of our careers.”

<a href=Vasek Pospisil is through to the US Open fourth round for the first time.” />
Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images
They are always happy when the likes of Pospisil and Raonic enjoy success, too. After Auger-Aliassime earned his first trip to the fourth round of a major, the first Instagram Story post he made was congratulating Pospisil, writing “Massive 🙌.”

Shapovalov said that it’s difficult to spend too much time together during these events, adding, “I think it’s just more congratulating each other afterwards. Everyone is kind of in their own bubble, their own space and we are focussed on our own things, so we are not even checking our phones too much, but definitely receiving and sending a lot of congratulations.”

Pospisil remembers the buzz when he was on the rise alongside Raonic and WTA player Eugenie Bouchard. He believes it’s normal that fans have become attracted to Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov given their young age.

“Felix and Denis have come and done something that no other Canadians have done… They are already doing these amazing things. That is natural. That is normal. But, of course, Milos and I were obviously still here and playing at a really high level,” Pospisil said. “Now we have four extremely capable players on the men’s side… definitely exciting times for tennis in Canada right now and it is nice to be a part of it.”

Although Raonic lost in the second round of the US Open — falling to Pospisil — the eight-time ATP Tour champion has shown top form since tennis returned, reaching the final of the Western & Southern Open. There are certainly many Canadians inspiring future generations right now.

“I don’t know how major or minor it is, but I am sure there is a significant impact with all these results that Canadians are having these last few years,” Pospisil said. “It is cool to be a part of and I think the sky is the limit for what we can do as a nation and obviously the more success we have, then success breeds success. Hopefully we will have some other superstars coming up soon in the sport.”

As happy as the players are, Shapovalov believes the friendships they’ve built with each other, especially his with Auger-Aliassime, will perhaps be even more meaningful than their results.

“I think the important thing is that we have been able to look beyond that [rivalry we have] and realise that tennis is just a small part of our lives,” Shapovalov said. “One day, we are going to stop playing and the bond, the relationship that we built, it’s going to stay.”

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Thiem Topples Cilic Under The Lights

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2020

Thiem Topples Cilic Under The Lights

Second seed to face Auger-Aliassime in fourth round of US Open

Dominic Thiem weathered an inspired fight from 2014 champion Marin Cilic on Saturday at the US Open, hanging tough to prevail 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in their third-round clash.

The second seed is through to the second week in New York for the fifth time in seven appearances. Although Thiem’s form has been patchy at times, his game has improved considerably from his opening-round defeat last week at the Western & Southern Open and he remains a top contender to take the title.

“I think the quick start was more because of him. He had two very tough rounds and was a little bit slow in the beginning. I took all of my chances,” Thiem said on court after the match. “Today was a good win against a great champion, so that should give me a boost.

“I’m not 100 per cent yet. I still have to raise my level if I want to go deeper. I’m normally capable of doing this in the Slams [and] hopefully here as well.”

Next up for the Austrian is No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who hasn’t dropped a set this week en route to his best showing at a Grand Slam. This will be their first ATP Head2Head meeting.

“The whole package is great. He’s a great player, great person outside of the court. I think he has huge star potential. Unbelievable athlete, good looking. He has everything basically,” Thiem said. “The only thing to my advantage is experience. This is his first fourth round at a Slam, so hopefully I can play that out a bit. It’s going to be a nice one and I’m looking forward to it.” 

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Thiem gave Cilic little to work with at the start of the match, camping well behind the baseline and forcing the Croatian to hit through him. Although Cilic was happy to play first-strike tennis, he became rattled by Thiem’s relentless retrieving and leaked errors from his normally reliable forehand wing. Both players hit six winners in the first set, but Thiem only struck two unforced errors while Cilic hit 13.

Cilic continued to struggle with his timing and Thiem’s consistency in the second set, enabling the 27-year-old to sprint to a 4-0 lead. Although he found his range after going down a double break, the deficit was too much to overcome. Thiem held comfortably at 5-2 and took a commanding advantage, hitting 18 winners across the first two sets to just four errors.

The Croatian was finally rewarded for his high-velocity play in the third set, earning his first break of the night after a brief dip in form from Thiem at 3-2. Cilic’s nerves were evident as he served for the set at 5-3 and the number of times he bounced the ball before serving nearly doubled. Although he struggled to find first serves, his groundstrokes never wavered. Cilic cracked a forehand winner on set point and closed the gap.

The added pressure from Cilic’s improved form began to affect Thiem’s baseline play. He hit nearly as many errors in the first five games of the fourth set (12) as he did in the first three sets combined. But the Austrian willed his way to tight service holds and took advantage of four baseline errors from Cilic to break serve at 3-2.

Cilic had opportunities to bring the match to a fifth set, but was left to rue missing all five break point opportunities. A big first serve from the second seed wrapped up play after two hours and 27 mjnutes. Thiem finished the night with 38 winners.

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