Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime half embrace and smile.

Photo : Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Despite winning the Davis Cup as teammates last fall, it had been 14 months since Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov last stepped on court to play doubles together.

They picked up where the left off on Thursday night in Indian Wells, defeating Holger Rune and Ben Shelton in straight sets 6-1, 6-3.

The last time Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime played doubles together was the semifinals of the 2022 ATP Cup, on route to Canada’s victory at the event. They have won their last three matches as a pair.

On Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open, the top two Canadian men’s singles players in the ATP rankings hit their stride early, racing through an opening set that saw them win 16 of the last 17 points, only dropping eight total.

Rune and Shelton, two of the most promising young singles players on tour, managed to avoid letting the Canadians run away with the match by saving four break points early in the second set and then had a love-40 opening to break in the fourth game. But the Canadians survived and won five of the last six games to book their spot in the second round.

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The win brings the Canadians’ overall record to 5-6 on the ATP Tour as a doubles team. They will meet Lucas Miedler and Cameron Norrie in the second round.

Leylah Annie Fernandez also kicked off her doubles campaign with a win alongside Taylor Townsend by defeating the Chans, Hao-Ching Chan and Latisha Chan, in straight sets. They could meet top seeds Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova in the second round.

Shapovalov will play his first singles match on Friday, while Auger-Aliassime and Fernandez will have to wait until Saturday.

Marino Drops First-Round Clash

A tricky first-round draw got the better of Rebecca Marino on Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, as the Canadian No. 3 was defeated in her opening match by former Roland-Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova.

Competing in her first main draw match in “tennis paradise” in over a decade, Marino had no answer to the Czech’s steady baseline hitting and struggled to build any momentum, falling 6-2, 6-2.

With the loss, the Canadian drops to an even 8-8 record in 2023.

The normally reliable serve from Marino was largely ineffective against the Czech, who won 61 per cent of the Canadian’s second serve points and 50 per cent of return points overall. Vondrousova did not face a break point in the match, while converting four of her eight opportunities.  

It was clear from the opening game that Marino was going to have to serve well, as she won a pair of points with aces but lost all four points on her serve when Vondrousova got the return back to surrender the immediate break.

By the time Marino started to find the range on her ground strokes, she had already fallen behind a double break which was plenty for the Czech to take the first set.

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Nothing was coming easy for the Canadian and she found herself in trouble constantly on serve in the second set. After saving a break point with a big serve in the opening game, Marino double-faulted to go down a break at 1-2.

Voundrousova continued to apply pressure while cruising on her own serve. The Czech had two more break points in the fifth game before breaking to love to set herself up to serve out the match at 5-2.

Four Canadians are still alive in singles as Marino was the only one without a first-round bye.