Photo : Mauricio Paiz
Felix Auger-Aliassime and Milos Raonic both were defeated under the lights at the US Open in round one on Monday. The Montrealer was upset in four sets by Mackenzie McDonald, while the veteran from Thornhill lost to No. 7 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets.
It was not the return to the US Open that Raonic was hoping for after the 32-year-old was defeated 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 in just under two hours on Monday night at Louis Armstrong Stadium by Tsitsipas.
Playing New York’s Grand Slam for the first time since 2020, the Canadian couldn’t match the level of the Greek over three sets despite his best efforts. The fact he only managed a first-serve percentage of 46% in the match certainly did not help his cause and neither did his 48 unforced errors. Raonic was able to break Tsitsipas for the first time to take a 4-2 lead in the third set, but his advantage was unfortunately short-lived as his opponent broke straight back and ultimately reeled off four consecutive games to take the opening round match in straight sets.
It was an off night, especially on serve, for the former world no. 3 who arrived in Flushing Meadows with confidence after reaching the third round of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Toronto earlier this month. He had also won his previous two meetings against Tsitsipas, both times in straight sets, so he had reason to believe he could pull off the upset.
Another Early Loss for Auger-Aliassime
The inconsistent form that has dogged Felix Auger-Aliassime for much of the year continued to be a problem in New York. While he had his chances, the Canadian struggled to win the big points and too many errors proved costly in his 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 loss to the American McDonald.
Auger-Aliassime finished the match with 52 unforced errors, far more than his 39 winners. He will be left regretting his poor break point conversion, only breaking McDonald once on 13 break points. While he did have 13 aces, the Canadian also hit 11 double faults.
For the most part, the first set was uneventful with both men cruising on serve. The only drama came as McDonald served to stay in the set at 4-5 and had to save two break points, which were also set points. He saved the first with a tight forehand winner and then Auger-Aliassime netted his return on the second.
Both men had chances in the tiebreak, with five straight points going against the server from 3-2 until 5-5. McDonald ended the run to set up a set point at 6-5 and Auger-Aliassime double-faulted for the second time in a row in the breaker to surrender the first set.
Unlike the opener, the second set was full of break chances for both players. It was the Canadian coming out on the right side of the early chaos, saving the three break points he faced while taking two love-40 leads in consecutive games on the American’s serve and scoring the break when it was McDonald’s turn to throw in an ill-timed double fault.
As the set went along, Auger-Aliassime began to find more of a rhythm while McDonald struggled for consistency. After going up a break, the Canadian and dropped just three points in his last three service games to level the match.
The momentum went away almost immediately as once again Auger-Aliassime faced break points in his opening service game in the third set. This time, he played an error-filled game to give away the break for 0-2.
Suddenly the two men’s levels were heading in completely different directions as the Canadian struggled to keep the ball in the court while McDonald could not miss. The American kept pressing and got a second break late as he raced to a two-sets-to-one lead.
Auger-Aliassime had his chances to get back into the match in set four, missing break points in the second and sixth games, both with unforced errors.
After being broke in the seventh game, the Canadian had a golden opportunity to extend the match as McDonald served for the match when he took a love-40 lead. But with three break points to get back on serve, Auger-Aliassime committed five consecutive unforced errors to exit his third consecutive Grand Slam event in the first round.
The Canadian women begin their U.S. Open campaigns on Tuesday as Leylah Annie Fernandez takes on no. 22 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova and Rebecca Marino goes up against Patricia Maria Tig of Romania.