MONTREAL, August 7, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
What a difference a week and playing at home made for Felix Auger-Aliassime. On Tuesday afternoon at the Masters 1000 Rogers Cup in Montreal, the 18-year-old hometown favorite rallied for a 6-2, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3) win over fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil in front of a full house on Court Central at Jarry Park.
A week after losing a disappointing third-round match to Marin Cilic at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. that left Auger-Aliassime feeling distraught, the #NextGenATP star pulled himself together against the No. 205 wild card Pospisil. At 4-all, 0-30 in the deciding set, the No. 21 Auger-Aliassime fought off nerves and pulled himself together to force a tie break. There, he jumped out to a 4-2 lead and won the last three points over Pospisil to advance into the second round against Canadian No. 1 and 17th-ranked Milos Raonic.
Dream debut in Montréal! 😊
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) August 6, 2019
“Losing those two next points, probably the match would have been over. What else can you do than just give it all? I tried to find a good first serve, play to win. That’s what I was able to do,” Auger-Aliassime said, quoted by the ATP Tour website.
“When your back is against the wall, you usually show up with something good. I think in any case in life, that’s what you do. If you look at a lot of players, especially great players, whenever they need to, they usually play good points, serve well. I think I found that extra energy in me to serve well those four points and get that game.”
Tuesday’s triumph was Auger-Aliassime’s 36th career win at the Rogers Cup. He is currently in 11th place in the ATP Race to London, in which the top eight qualify for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals.
Meanwhile, just two days after winning his second ATP 500 title of the year in Washington, Nick Kyrgios lost to Kyle Edmund. In their only previous meeting, Kyrgios won on grass at Queen’s Club in 2018. The mercurial Australian, who arguably enjoyed his best week in recent memory in lifting the trophy at the Citi Open Sunday evening, came into his contest against Edmund riding a five-match winning streak. However, Edmund rattled Kyrgios early and won 6-3, 6-4 in just 67 minutes. He fired 15 aces and did not face any break points.The second set was tied 4-all when the match was suspended by rain for 90 minutes before play resumed for the final two games.
In the final Court Central match Tuesday night, third seed Alexander Zverev defeated World No. 62 Cameron Norrie 7-6(4), 6-4 in one hour and 40 minutes. The 23-year-old German celebrated his second win over the Briton in as many meetings between the two. Up next for Zverev will be 13th seed Nikolaz Basilashvili, who came from behind to beat Jan-Lennard Struff, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Other first-round winners included: fourth seed Cilic, who withstood 19 aces by qualifier Bradley Klahn and won 6-3, 7-6 (7); 11th seed Borna Coric advanced over Washington semifinalist Peter Gojowczyk, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (2); 12th seed John Isner hit 26 aces in his win over Jordan Thompson, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6); Guido Pella upset 15th seed David Goffin, 6-4, 7-6 (4); and qualifier Daniel Evans defeated recent Atlanta champion Alex de Minaur, 6-4, 7-6 (6).
Around the Rogers Cup
• With 32 teams competing in the doubles draw, one expects to see familiar pairs such as the World No. 1s, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, the No. 4s Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, and the No. 3s Bob and Mike Bryan. However, it’s worth noting that a Masters 1000 event also allows for some creative teams to come together, too, take Stan Wawrinka and Benoit Paire, for instance. On Tuesday, Wawrinka and Paire defeated Fabio Fognini and Lucas Pouille, 6-4, 7-6 (7), in a first-round match that featured four former Masters 1000 singles semifinalists or champions.
Additionally, Andy Murray continued his comeback from hip surgery by teaming with Feliciano Lopez to beat Kubot and Melo, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 11-9.
• Three of the four top seeds will be in action as second-round play begins Wednesday. No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal faces qualifier Daniel Evans and No. 2 Dominic Thiem, fresh from his win over the weekend in Kitzbühel takes on Canadian #NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov, both on Court Central. Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas opposes alternate Hubert Hurkacz on Banque Nationale.