Felix Auger-Aliassime follows through on a serve during his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Canada had a dream day on Monday at Roland-Garros, with Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov both kicking off their French Open campaigns with straight-set wins. 

It was the same story on the women’s side, as Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Annie Fernandez both took care of business in straight sets

Both Canadian men were locked in on serve in their victories and overcame some challenging external factors as well as their opponents. Auger-Aliassime had to deal with two rain delays in his win over Yoshihito Nishioka, while Shapovalov contended with the partisan French crowd as he took down Luca Van Assche.  

Auger-Aliassime could not have asked for a better start to his campaign, cruising past Nishioka in straight sets on a rainy Monday morning at the French Open. 

Not even multiple rain delays could break the 21st-seeds rhythm, as he dominated with his serve and kept Nishioka under constant pressure, advancing to the second round of Roland-Garros for just the second time with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 win. 

It was a near-perfect serving performance from the Canadian, who never faced a break point in the match. He won 84 per cent of his first-serve points and 77 per cent of service points overall. He also had 44 winners, twice as many as his opponent.  

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Auger-Aliassime started applying pressure right from the start, holding a pair of break points in the opening game before coaxing an error at 30-40 in the third to break for a 2-1 lead.  

The Canadian was firing on all cylinders early on, winning his first 12 points on serve including a game where he held with three aces. By the time Nishioka even won a point on return, Auger-Aliassime was serving for the set up a double break. 

As the second set went along, closing out games started to become a problem for Nishioka. At 3-3, the Japanese let a 40-love lead slip away and ended up having to save three break points.  

In his next service game, Nishioka found himself locked at deuce having led 30-love. He missed a few chances to close out the game, with the Canadian pulling off some incredible passing shots, and then flubbed a forehand volley to finally surrender what proved to be the decisive break of the set. 

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Rain paused play for over an hour when Auger-Aliassime was two points from serving out the set, but he had no trouble finishing it off when play resumed. 

The delay did not affect the Canadian’s momentum as he immediately broke to start the third set, hitting back-to-back winners from deuce to seize the early initiative. 

That break held through the set, but Auger-Aliassime had to wait to finish off the match as rain once again sent them back to the locker room before he served at 5-4. When they came back, the Canadian was pushed to deuce but hit his way out of the jam and into the second round. 

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In round two, Auger-Aliassime will face qualifier Henri Squire. 

Shapovalov Gets the Job Done 

While he faced more resistance than his countryman earlier in the day, Denis Shapovalov was able to write a similar story, advancing to the second round of Roland-Garros for the second year in a row with a straight-set win. 

Like Auger-Aliassime, his serve was not broken and he was opportunistic when the door opened on return, holding off the tenacious Luca Van Assche 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. 

Break point conversion was the decisive factor in the match, as Shapovalov converted three of his six opportunities and saved all three he faced on serve. The Canadian also measured his aggression better. Both men had 37 unforced errors, but Shapovalov balanced it out with 35 winners, while Van Assche only managed 13. 

Chances were limited in the opening set, with both men holding serve with relative ease. All it took was one blink from Van Assche in the eighth game, when an error at 30-all gave Shapovalov the lone break point of the set which he converted with a winner to take a decisive lead. 

The second set followed a similar script. Neither man had a look in the first six games before a slew of errors from Van Assche gave the Canadian chances to break at 3-3. He missed his first two break points but the Frenchman gave him a freebie on the third, sending a backhand long to surrender the break. 

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There was drama as Shapovalov looked to serve out the set. He appeared to have it won when he struck an ace at 40-15, but the umpire checked the mark and called it out. Van Assche proceeded to win three straight points to set up a break point. The Frenchman ultimately had three chances to level the set in the game but Shapovalov stepped up each time, saving two with big serves and one with a forehand winner. He eventually held to take a two-set lead. 

Shapovalov made his move even earlier in the third set. At 2-2, he dropped in a return at deuce for a winner to set up break point and Van Assche gifted it to him with an error. 

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Van Assche did not go away quietly, but he never had a chance to get back in the match. With each service game for the remainder of the set, Shapovalov held more easily and capped it off with a hold to love. 

A win in round two over either Mattia Belluci or Frances Tiafoe would see Shapovalov match his best-ever result at Roland-Garros, which he set by reaching the third round last year.  

Overall, the Canadians went 4-1 in the first round of the singles in Paris, with only Gabriel Diallo exiting the tournament on Sunday.