FLORIDA – MARCH 24: during the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Hard Rock Stadium March 24

Another record-breaking run from our Canadian contingent has come to an end. Félix Auger-Aliassime’s dream of reaching the final of the Miami Open is over after he was beaten by John Isner 7-6(3), 7-6(4), while Denis Shapovalov fell to Roger Federer in his semi-final.

It’s been an incredible couple of weeks for 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime, the youngest-ever semi-finalist in the tournament’s history, but he came up just short against the 33-year-old American at Hard Rock Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Auger-Aliassime seemed to have taken a decisive lead in the opening set when he broke Isner’s serve without conceding a single point in game seven. But the American, last year’s Miami Open champion, broke back just three games later to even things up. Neither player was able to engineer another breakthrough as the went to a tiebreak.

Despite Auger-Aliassime holding a 3-0 record in tiebreaks during his time in Miami this year, it was Isner, standing at a towering 6 foot 10 inches, who went onto win 7-3.

Undeterred by that setback, the young Canadian raced out of the blocks in the second set, holding his serve in the opening game before fighting off a break point in the third. He then set about trying to pick off Isner – not an easy task given the American has an imperiously strong serve of his own.

But Auger-Aliassime eventually manufactured two break point opportunities, the second he grabbed with both hands to take control of the second set. However, the youngster was unable to take full advantage as he dropped his own serve a few games later.

That meant another tiebreak was on the cards. Unfortunately, it was the same story as the first as Isner wrapped up the win, and a place in the final, at Auger-Aliassime’s expense.

In Friday’s evening session, Shapovalov went up against his once-idol, Federer. The 19-year-old, who broke through at the tour level following an epic win over Rafael Nadal back in 2017 at the Rogers Cup, was unable to replicate that world-beating form against the legendary Swiss at the Miami Open’s Stadium court.

The first game of the match was an ominous start for Shapovalov, who was forced to save multiple break points before holding against Federer’s signature mach speed pace of play. Not long after, his serve would succumb to the No. 2 seed’s pressure, effectively sealing the set against Shapovalov’s favour. Loose unforced errors, perhaps a consequence of the early nerves of playing against a player once idolized, would be the Canadian’s undoing, but would he be able to tighten up his game in the second set?

In the third game of the second set, Shapovalov would generate two break points against the Federer serve, both of which he’d be unable to take before decisively being broken in the next game. From there, the tennis was played at the high quality expected of the semi-final billing, but it was too late for the 19-year-old from Richmond Hill. Unable to make a dent on the Federer service games, Shapovalov went down in straight sets after one hour, 12 minutes.

A brilliant month of results comes to an end for our Canadian contingent. Bianca Andreescu’s title run at the BNP Paribas Open followed by a fourth-round Miami Open appearance; Auger-Aliassime’s semi-final breakthrough at a Masters 1000; and Shapovalov’s third Masters semi-final were all brilliant highlights for Canadian teenagers, with each result propelling them up the rankings and ultimately proving that Canada is the hottest country in tennis at the moment.

Let’s see what the clay season has in store for these young talents.

(Feature photo: Mauricio Paiz)