Maybe it’s fitting that Félix Auger-Aliassime’s first victory in a Grand Slam main draw, comes against the same player he defeated to score his first-ever win on the ATP Tour.
In a Clash of Canadians on Canada Day, the 18 year old from Montreal won in his much-anticipated Wimbledon debut by defeating countryman Vasek Pospisil 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3. It was just the second career meeting between this pair of Canadians. They previously met at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open, where Félix edged Vasek to grab his first tour-level victory.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 1, 2019
Pospisil, who was playing in his first match since back surgery held him out for eight months, did all he could to challenge his fellow Canadian.
In the first set, tied 2-2, Félix put away a nice forehand winner to set up a break point opportunity – that Vasek would gift him thanks to an unforced error on the very next point. But Pospisil would level the set at 3. After two straight double faults from Auger-Aliassime, the 29 year old from Vancouver scored a break point of his own on a forehand winner. Then, with Vasek leading 6-5, he used a huge backhand winner to break Félix again and win the opening set.
But, in the second set, the Montrealer seemed to shake off any nerves he had early on. Auger-Aliassime scored a couple of break points to help him grab a 4-0 lead. From there, the No. 19-seeded Canadian held serve – winning 11 of 12 first-serve points in the set.
In the third set, at 3-3, after Félix calmly putting away a forehand winner at the net to give himself a break point opportunity. He would then score the break, when Vasek sailed a backhand long. Auger-Alissiame would close out the set on serve – winning four straight points. The Canadian teen also won 92% of his first-serve points for the second straight set.
The first of many…
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) July 1, 2019
It was more of the same from Félix in the fourth set. At 3-3, Pospisil saved two break points before a forehand forced error put Auger-Aliassime up a break. Vasek did his best to rally from behind, but the World No. 21 saved a couple breaks points of his own to hold serve for a 5-3 lead. Félix then secured his first-ever Grand Slam win with a break point – thanks to a great backhand volley into the open court.
In his only previous appearance in a Grand Slam, Auger-Aliassime was forced to retire in another Clash of Canadians. Facing friend and compatriot Denis Shapovalov in the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open, Félix retired from his first-ever Grand Slam match with heart palpitations. Then, prior to this year’s French Open, Auger-Aliassime withdrew with an injury before he could make his debut at Roland-Garros.
Look who's back pic.twitter.com/1mwdHVP2Sd
— Michael Gallo (@Galloots) July 1, 2019
Meanwhile, Pospisil was playing in his first competitive match since he had surgery in January to repair a herniated disk in his back. His last match before today came back in October 2018, when Vasek was forced to retired from his second-round match against Benoit Paire at the Rolex Paris Masters.
In his absence, Félix’s play has soared especially in the month leading up to Wimbledon. He’s made two ATP finals in his last three tournaments. His latest victory gives the Canadian teen 11 wins in his last 14 matches. Eight of those 11 wins have taken place on grass.
Félix will now face French qualifier Corentin Moutet in the next round. Moutet rallied from behind in his opening-round match to defeat Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in a tense five-setter 2-6, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-1.
Immediately after the Félix-Vasek match was completed on Court No. 12, Milos Raonic went to work on securing his spot in the next round at the All England Club. The No. 15-seeded Canadian downed India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran in straight sets 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the second round for the ninth year in a row.
With the opening set tied at 4, trailing 0-30, Raonic managed to score four straight points to hold serve and help force a first-set tiebreak. Once there, the 28 year old from Thornhill grabbed a 2-1 lead after he earned a mini-break thanks to a Gunneswaran double-fault. It was part of stretch that saw Milos win six straight points to take the first set.
— Wilson Tennis (@WilsonTennis) July 1, 2019
In the second set, the top-seeded Canadian got off to a quick start. In the opening game of the second set, a great two-handed backhand winner secured Milos the first break point of the match. In the very next game, Gunneswaran did his best to try and level the set. Leading 15-40, Gunneswaran seemed poise to break back – until Raonic a couple break points and won four service points in a row to hold serve. Then, to close out the second set, Milos connected on a beautiful drop shot from well beyond the baseline.
The Canadian got off to an identical start to start off the third set. A forehand unforced error from the Indian in the opening game of the set put Raonic up a break. He later scored a second break to open up a 4-1 lead. From there, the Maple Leaf Missile did what he does best. He tallied four of his 14 aces over his last two service games to advance at the All England Club.
Serving up a big R1 win! 🔥🔥🔥
— ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) July 1, 2019
Coming into Wimbledon, Raonic has reached the quarters at three of his past four events, including semi-final showings at Stuttgart and Indian Wells. Most recently, he fell to wild-card entry Feliciano Lopez in the quarter-finals of the Fever-Tree Championships. This all comes after Milos missed three months and Roland Garros due to a back injury. He was also forced him to withdraw from the Mercedes Cup prior to his semi-final showdown with Auger-Aliassime just over two weeks ago.
Next up for Milos, he’ll face Robin Haase of the Netherlands in the second round. Raonic has won their only previous meeting back in 2013, when he downed the Dutchman in straight sets at the Rolex Paris Masters.
(Photo by Mauricio Paiz)