Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
It was another tough day for the young Canadian players in Melbourne.
Hoping to become the second Canadian to move into the second round at the Australian Open, Félix Auger-Aliassime fell just short against qualifier Ernest Gulbis, losing 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
At 19-years-old, Auger-Aliassime was playing in the main draw in Melbourne for the first time in his career. Although he was coming into the tournament with some confidence, having reached the semi-finals at the ATP 250 event in Adelaide, the young Canadian became the third men’s seed to fall in the opening round and the second Canadian, after compatriot Denis Shapovalov.
In uncharacteristic fashion, Auger-Aliassime committed seven doubles faults and 44 unforced errors in the match. His struggles began early on, as he fired only three winners in the opening set. Battling back to take the second set, he was ultimately unable to move on to the next round.
A dangerous opponent, despite a current ranking of no. 256, Gulbis presented a tough challenge for Auger-Aliassime on Day 2 in Australia. A former world no. 10, he experienced some struggles with form and consistency over the years. However, he made headlines back in 2018 when he qualified for the main draw at Wimbledon and proceeded to knock out no. 3 seed Alexander Zverev on his way to reaching the fourth round.
Fernandez gains valuable experience
For her part, Leylah Annie Fernandez was also making her professional Grand Slam main draw debut, having dominated in her three qualifying matches. The 17-year-old put up a valiant effort, but was unable to overcome American opponent Lauren Davis, falling 6-4, 6-2.
Despite her inexperience on the professional tour, Fernandez held her own against the world no. 62, matching her power and endurance in longer rallies.
She was aggressive throughout the match, showing her tenacity and fighting spirit.
The only Canadian woman in the singles main draw at this year’s Australian Open, Fernandez is off to a good start in her transition year from the juniors to the pros. The 2019 junior French Open champion should be leaving Australia with a good amount of confidence, having demonstrated that she can keep up with older and more experienced players.
Pospisil falls at the hands of Karlovic
The last Canadian player to take to the court on Tuesday morning and riding the momentum from his wins at the Davis Cup Final last November, Vasek Pospisil was unable to continue his winning ways in Melbourne.
Facing the 40-year-old giant Ivo Karlovic, in a tight match that last a little over two hours, the Canadian fell in straight sets by a score of 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5.
Despite putting up similar statistics, it was the two breaks of serve for Karlovic that made the difference in the match.
This leaves only Milos Raonic in singles action at the Australian Open. Pospisil, however, is not done in Australia, as he will participate in doubles alongside partner Jubert Hurkacz. In the opening round, they will face the British pair of Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski, the 14th seeds.
*Feature photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour