Auger-Aliassime Wins Canadian Battle in Montreal
By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin
(August 6, 2019) MONTREAL – Teen phenom Félix Auger-Aliassime was playing for the first time in singles in front of his home crowd at the Coupe Rogers presented by Banque Nationale, and lots of pressure was resting on the 18-year-old’s shoulders in his match against countryman Vasek Pospisil. While both players didn’t play their best tennis, Auger-Aliassime found a way to fight through a bad second set tiebreak to escape with a 6-2 6-7(3) 7-6(3) win.
Auger-Aliassime looked very solid in the first set, taking a quick 2-0 lead and breaking Pospisil three times to win the set 6-2. But this was the last look the young Canadian had at a break point, as both players held serve comfortably all the way through the second and third sets. In the end, neither players managed to win more than 35% of return points.
Being only a few points away from the win in the second set tiebreak, Auger-Aliassime played a series of very uncharacteristic loose points to let Pospisil back in the match. ‘’I wasn’t that frustrated against myself in that tiebreak, Auger-Aliassime commented. I think I could have done better things before in the set, but I think he just played better in that tiebreak.’’
But given a second chance, the Montrealer played a much more solid tiebreak in the third set, including a key backhand passing shot to get a 4-2 lead, which lead to a huge roar from the very enthusiastic crowd. ‘’I think people were just proud and happy to see two Canadian players give it their all for two-and-a-half-hours. I think we had a great battle.’’
Vasek Pospisil on the other hand looked quite upset after the loss. The 2013 semifinalist was playing in only his second singles match since coming back from an 8-month injury break, both matches being losses to Auger-Aliassime. ‘’I’m feeling like my game is there. As good as it’s been the last three years, to be honest. I felt like I was ready to win some matches this week. It was a tough draw considering who it was, what city it was in.’’
The crowd will once again be treated to an all-Canadian clash tomorrow night, as Félix Auger-Aliassime will face 17th seed Milos Raonic in the second round. It will be the second match between the two, as Raonic won in two sets in Indian Wells in 2018. ‘’I was not at the level of Milos, he dominated most of the time, said Auger-Aliassime. But I believe tomorrow will be a totally different scenario. I think overall everything in my game has improved, from the groundstrokes to my return and my serve.’’
Charles David Mathieu-Poulin is covering the Coupe Rogers in Montreal for Tennis Panorama News.