Photo : @MercedesCup
After a disappointing season on clay, Félix Auger-Aliassime kicked off his grass-court season in style with three straight-set victories and a final appearance in Stuttgart last week.
This week, playing at the Noventi Open in Halle, Germany, Auger-Aliassime faced his current doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in the opening round.
Auger-Aliassime continued to dominate on grass and defeated his fellow teammate in straight sets 6-3, 7-5.
The Canadian struck first, breaking his opponent in the sixth game on the lone break point opportunity of the first set.
In the second set, Auger-Aliassime had to face some adversity in the fourth game. Down 15-40 in his service game, the Canadian delivered a couple of clutch aces and powerful forehands to hold and keep the set tied at two games apiece.
Once again, the first break of the second set was off the Canadian’s racquet in the 11th game.
In the 12th game, Auger-Aliassime served out the match and improved his grass-court record to 4-1 on the season.
Hurkacz’s tournament isn’t over, as he and Auger-Aliassime play in the round of 16 in doubles tomorrow after a dominant win over Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov, the all-Russian duo, 6-3, 4-6, 10-5 on Monday.
Auger-Aliassime’s next match in singles will be quite the test. He’s up against Roger Federer, the 10-time Noventi Open champion and the current World No. 8, for the first time in his career.
Denis Shapovalov wins serving clinic
Later in the day, Denis Shapovalov took to the court at the cinch Championships in London, England. He faced qualifier Aleksandar Vukic of Australia and won 7-6(6), 7-6(6).
This is Shapovalov’s fourth time competing at the cinch Championships in his career. His best finish was in 2017, when he made it to the round of 16 as a qualifier. The Canadian is the No. 2 seed at this year’s tournament.
In the first set, despite needing to come up big on second serves, Shapovalov won an impressive 29/33 service points (90 percent on first serves and 85 percent on second serves).
Vukic managed to save both break points he faced in the fourth and sixth games. One of the break points saved came after a monster backhand from Shapovalov.
A tiebreak was needed to decide the winner of the first set. Shapovalov fought off a Vukic set point and then converted on his own set point opportunity. The Canadian won the first set 7-6(6).
The servers put on a clinic in the second set. The Australian won 28/32 service points to the Canadian’s 29/37.
After the first five games were won 40-love by the servers, a second tiebreak was inevitable.
In the second set tiebreak, Vukic had the mini-break advantage and had three set point opportunities. However, the tenacious Shapovalov did not let up and won the next five points to wrap up the match in straight sets.
Shapovalov advances to the round of 16 for the second time at the cinch Championships and will face Feliciano Lopez of Spain on Thursday. Shapovalov defeated the Spaniard 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-2 at the MercedesCup last week.
Leylah Fernandez dominates in grass-court debut
Leylah Fernandez, the only Canadian to move up in the world rankings after Roland Garros, won her first-round match at the Viking Classic Birmingham, a WTA 250 event in England.
Fernandez cruised by qualifier Yafan Wang of China 7-5, 6-3.
The young Canadian delivered a clean match.
In the first set, Fernandez fought off an early break point and converted 2/3 of her break point opportunities. In the second set, Fernandez was a perfect 1/1 on break points and didn’t allow Wang a chance to break back.
Fernandez had six aces, zero double faults, and kept 77 percent of her first serves in play. Today was Fernandez’s first match on grass in her professional career.
The 18-year-old will face the tournament No. 2 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the round of 16.
Gabriela Dabrowski falls in doubles
Gabriela Dabrowski and partner Shuai Zhang of China took on Ukrainian Lyudmyla Kichenok and Japanese Makoto Ninomiya in the opening round of the Viking Classic Birmingham.
Although the Canadian-Chinese duo won more points than their opponents, they lost the match 6-4, 2-6, 10-7.
Dabrowski will look to bounce back in the next couple weeks before the start of Wimbledon on June 28. The Ottawa native was a doubles finalist at Wimbledon in 2019.