What started out as a scintillating battle between two of Canada’s fastest-rising stars ended in sadness, as Félix Auger-Aliassime was forced to retire from his first-round clash with compatriot and best friend Denis Shapovalov at the US Open.
The first two sets were played at an even level, as the two #NextGenATP Canadians went toe-to-toe exchanging powerful blows from the back of the court, which yielded several breaks of serve over the first two hours. Locked at a set apiece, with each coming from behind to earn the 7-5 set won, Shapovalov was able to pull ahead by a break in the third set — which was when an apparent heart issue started to bother his 18-year-old countryman.
The issue would force Auger-Aliassime out of the match three games later, embracing his friend at the net, visibly emotional. “I’m sorry,” said Auger-Aliassime to Shapovalov, who whispered words of encouragement and compassion to his friend, against whom he had not minutes earlier had been locked in heated battle with.
It’s more than just tennis. https://t.co/djUXQanu90
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) August 28, 2018
“It’s something he’s been working off and I’m sure he’s going to get fixed up,” said Shapovalov to the crowd after the match. “I told him at the net we’re going to be back here, we’re going to be playing in the finals. This is just one match … I know how frustrating it can be.”
Earlier in the day, Milos Raonic navigated his way past Carlos Berlocq 7-6(4), 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 to advance to the second round. Despite dropping the third set, the 27-year-old was able to strike 63 winners against the Argentinean, who subbed in as a Lucky Loser after initial first-round opponent Jared Donaldson withdrew from the tournament.
Vasek Pospisil also claimed a first-round victory, marking the first time he was able to advance to the second round of a Grand Slam since 2016. The Vernon, BC native won 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 over Lukas Lacko. He’ll play the winner of David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal in the round of 64.