Milos Raonic, of Canada, serves to Stefanos Tsitsipas, of Greece, during the semifinals at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
It was Canada Day at the US Open, as four Canadian players were in first round action on day two in Flushing Meadows. Despite a later start due to a bit of rain, the delay did not put a damper on our athletes’ debut matches, as they were all able to book their spots in the second round.
Félix Auger-Aliassime was the first one to take to the courts, facing Thiago Monteiro of Brazil. Despite a relatively lower ranking, Monteiro is a former top junior player and was not to be taken lightly. It was the Canadian who took the opening set thanks to an early break. Play got tighter as the match progressed, with both players engaging in long rallies and some heavy baseline hitting. The second and third sets each required a tiebreak, with Monteiro taking one and Auger-Aliassime the other. In the fourth, after close to four hours of play, the Canadian closed out the match in another tiebreak, winning by a score of 6-3, 6-7(7), 7-6(6), 7-6(6).
This is the 20-year-old Canuck’s first time reaching the second round at the US Open, having lost his two previous opening round matches against his compatriot and good friend Denis Shapovalov. Up next for Auger-Aliassime will be Andy Murray of Great Britain, former World No. 1 and 2012 champion at the US Open.
The only Canadian in singles action on the women’s side is 17-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez, who is competing in her second Grand Slam main draw. Despite her relative inexperience at the majors, it was Fernandez who took the opening set against Vera Zvonareva of Russia, thanks to a late break. In the second, she was broken early on, but rebounded in the very next game to level out the score. She continued her strong play and earned herself a few match points, converting on the fourth one, taking the match by a score of 6-4, 7-5.
The young Canadian has a tough draw ahead of her, with her second round match coming against the No. 2 seed Sofia Kenin.
For his part, Vasek Pospisil is competing at the US Open for the tenth time of his career, with his best performances coming when he reached the second round on three occasions. In his first round match on Tuesday, he was taking on Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany. Pospisil would take the opening set in a tiebreak, notably outpacing his opponent in aces and winners. In the second, Pospisil notched an important late break to take a commanding lead in the match. The Canadian would experience a few difficulties on serve late, but was able to pull away with a 7-6(4), 7-5, 7-6(3) victory.
Pospisil will face countryman Milos Raonic in the second round. Despite breaking into professional tennis around the same time, the two have only faced each other on three other occasions, with Raonic leading their head-to-head with two wins to one loss.
Raonic was the last Canadian to book his spot into the second round, dominating his match against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina. He relied on his weapons of choice from start to finish, notably his booming his serve and his crushing forehand, and dictated play against his opponent. Raonic needed under two hours to take the match 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, firing 14 aces along the way. The 29-year-old Canuck is looking to improve on his career-best fourth round finish at the US Open, which he reached on four occasions.