Photo: Julio Cortez/AP
Not one fan at the Grandstand wanted to see this match end the way it did, with Denis Shapovalov embracing his tearful friend Felix Auger-Aliassime at the net after he had to retire down 7-5, 5-7, 4-1 in the third set.
Auger-Aliassime spent time with the trainers down 2-0 in the third set trying to get his heart rate down, tried to continue and had to exit the match 3 games later.
“It’s actually really tough to see him going out like this,” Shapovalov said after the match. “I told him at the net we’re going to be back here, we’re going to play so many of these.”
As for the match itself, neither player served all that well, but they traded runs of games throughout the whole match.
With Auger-Aliassime up 5-2 in the first set, Shapovalov rattled off 5 games in a row, and the roles reversed in the second, with Shapovalov being up 4-1, and Auger-Aliassime winning 6 of the next 7 games.
The youngsters both traded significant body blows off the ground off both wings, with many unforced errors thrown in, but it didn’t detract from the suspense in the match between the two friends.
Auger-Aliassime showed flashes that have people saying he could be the next big thing. He’s rock solid off the ground, and has the tools to be a future Top-10 player. His serve was very shaky at times, with his ball toss floating off to the right too far at points. At 6-foot-3, he will generate more power as he gets stronger over the course of time, but the foundation is there.
As for the 19-year-old Shapovalov, his serve is still improving, as is his backhand wing, but he has one of the best forehands in the game, especially when he can step in. He generates a lot of spin and depth, and can really control points well off that wing.
This isn’t the last we will see of either of these guys. Both have an incredible amount of talent, and we all hope that Auger-Aliassime’s health and fitness can get to the ideal level to be able to consistently compete on the tour.
Shapovalov will face Andreas Seppi in the second round, after the Italian beat Milos Raonic on Monday afternoon.