Auger-Aliassime Builds Momentum At Drummondville Challenger

Félix Auger-Aliassime advanced to the quarterfinals (photo: Drummondville Challenger/Vincent Dubé)

DRUMMONDVILLE, March 17, 2017

Of the four Canadians in action on Thursday, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov moved on to the quarterfinals at the $75,000 Drummondville National Bank Challenger held at the René-Verrier indoor tennis club in Drummondville.

In an all-Canadian second round match-up, Auger-Aliassime faced off against the tournament’s second seed, Peter Polansky. Both players played a tight first set, until the young Montrealer was able to break his opponent at the halfway point. During the next service game, Polansky held a break point of his own, but was unable to convert. The 16-year-old tallied seven aces in the opening set, while Polansky struggled with his serve.

Auger-Aliassime had a strong start to the second set, breaking his opponent in the opening service game. The teenager got his second break and took a commanding lead in the set. With the World No. 511 serving for the win, the 28-year-old Polansky broke back to stay in the match, but was unable to complete the comeback. After a little over an hour of play, the youngster defeated his compatriot 6-3, 6-4.

Auger-Aliassime will play his only second quarterfinal match at ATP Challenger level against Alex de Minaur of Australia on Friday. The two previously met at the stage of the final eight at last year’s junior’s competition at Wimbledon, where the Aussie got the best of the Canadian, winning 5-7, 7-6, 6-2.

Denis Shapovalov was also in action on Thursday, facing the tournament’s third seed Quentin Halys of France. Early in the first set, the Frenchman double-faulted, giving the Canadian his first break. After Halys took a medical timeout, the 19-year-old from Richmond consolidated his break with a strong service game. Once again, the third seed committed a double-fault, giving Shapovalov his second break of the set. In clear discomfort, Halys retired from the match. Despite the match lasting only 17 minutes, the Canadian youngster was able to tally an impressive five aces in a short period of time.

Shapovalov will be looking to make his third consecutive semi-final appearance, having reached the semi-final in Sherbrooke last week and winning the title in Gatineau in early March. He will next face Blaz Rola of Slovenia, who cruised past Daniel Nguyen from the United States 6-2, 6-1 in only 58 minutes.

Brayden Schnur from Pickering faced a tough opponent in qualifier Tim Puetz of Germany. In a tightly disputed first set, the players managed a break point each, keeping the match even. The opening set required a tie-break in which Puetz took control and won the set. In the second, Schnur was down by a break late in the match, but rallied to even the score and take the set to another tie-break. The 21-year-old Canadian fought to bring the match to a third set, but was unable to come away with the victory. Puetz moved on to the quarterfinals with a 7-6, 7-6 win in one hour and 42 minutes.

Ruben Bemelmans from Belgium is the last seeded player standing the singles main. The fourth favourite defeated British qualifier Liam Broady 6-4, 7-5. Bemelmans saved four of the five break points he faced, converting three of his own to advance in one hour and 23 minutes. He will next take on Gleb Sakharov. The 28-year-old Frenchman upset sixth seed Tenny Sandgren from the United States 6-3, 7-5