Photo: Mauricio Paiz||Photo: Mauricio Paiz|Photo: Mauricio Paiz|Photo: Mauricio Paiz

In a battle of two North Americans with powerful serves, Milos Raonic came up aces on Friday. The No.15-seeded Canadian booked his placed in the fourth round at the All England Club by defeating American Reilly Opelka in straight sets 7-6(1), 6-2, 6-1. It marks the fourth year in a row that Raonic has reached Wimbledon’s round of 16. He’s gone this far at the Championships five times in his career.

In the first set, neither player seemed capable of breaking the other. Both the Canadian (at 1-2) and the American (at 5-5) dug themselves out of 0-40 holes in order to hold serve and force a first-set tiebreaker. Once there, Opelka lost all four points on his serve, allowing Raonic to cruise to a 7-1 victory in the tiebreak. The 28 year old from Thornhill improved his record to 19-7 in tiebreakers this season, and now owns a perfect 4-0 mark at Wimbledon in 2019.

Then, in the second set, Raonic scored an all-important to break to grab a 4-2 lead thanks to a one of Opelka’s five double faults in the match. The 21 year old continued to be plagued by unforced errors in his next service game. Opelka tallied four over the final five points of the set – gifting Raonic his second break of the match to close out the set.

From there, Milos appeared destined to close it out in straight sets. Another four unforced errors from the American put Raonic up a break at 2-0. Opelka’s erratic play continued throughout the third set, while Raonic steadied himself to break the American one more time en route to taking the set 6-1.

It was a nearly flawless performance by the Canadian. He won 51 of 55 first-service points, and got 75% of his first-serves in. Raonic also committed just seven unforced errors, 24 less than his American counterpart. With his latest straight sets victory, the Canadian has yet to drop a set in these Championships. He will next face the No. 26-seeded Guido Pella of Argentina in the fourth round.

Félix falls to Humbert in third round

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

Félix Auger-Aliassime did his best to join his countryman in the round of 16, but he just fell short – losing to France’s Ugo Humbert in straight sets 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.

The Canadian didn’t make it easy on himself from the get-go. With the first set tied at 3-3, the 18 year old from Montreal was broken after he committed four unforced errors including a double fault. From there, Humbert would hold serve to take the set.

The Frenchman’s play slipped at the beginning of the second set. Humbert recorded four straight unforced errors of his own in his first service game – gifting the Canadian teen an early break and an opportunity to level the match. But, at 5-3, with Félix serving for the set, Humbert scored a break on a brilliant backhand winner. Then, in Auger-Aliassime’s very next service game, the Montrealer was unable to save break point when he committed his first and only double fault of the set. Humbert would take a 2-0 lead on his next service game.

Auger-Aliassime didn’t stop fighting though. Despite giving up a break to start the third set, with the crowd at Court No. 1 cheering him on, he managed to save a couple break points to give himself a chance. However, Humbert continued to excel on his serve and would close out the match.

Despite the loss, there are plenty of positives that the Montrealer can draw from this grass-court season. Playing on this surface for the first time professionally, he finishes 2019 with an 8-3 record on grass. The 18 year old’s third-round exit in his Wimbledon debut also matches the same result that Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray all experienced in their respective debuts at the All England Club. Auger-Aliassime has also worked his way up the rankings to become the World No. 21, which is 131 spots higher than where he was just a short year ago.

Dabrowski, Xu clinical in second round

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

The No.4-seeded pair of Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu were absolutely dominant on Friday. They booked their spot into the round of 16 by defeating the team of Kateryna Kozlova and Arina Rodionova in straight sets 6-2, 6-1.

Similar to their opening-round match at the All England Club, Dabrowski and Xu were clinical on serve. They won 76% of their service points, having also placed 71% of their first serves in. The Canadian-Chinese duo also didn’t give up a single break point for the second straight match. While, they converted four of five break points.

Their latest victory improves Dabrowski and Xu’s record on grass to 3-3 in 2019. The pair is hoping to at least reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon for a second year in a row. They’ll next face the No.13-seeded Chinese team of Duan Yingying and Zheng Saisai.

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Canadian Vasek Pospisil and partner Matthew Ebden lost their second round match at Wimbledon. They fell to the No.12-seeded tandem of Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram 7-5, 6-4, 7-6(3).

The 29 year old from Vancouver was playing in his first event since he had surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back in January. His last match before Wimbledon came back in October 2018, when Vasek was forced to retired from his second-round match against Benoit Paire at the Rolex Paris Masters.

Pospisil’s next event will the Gatineau Challenger that is set to start in 10 days. Pospisil will make his tournament debut as one of the event’s wild cards. Vasek has previously had success playing in Canadian Challenger events. Just last year, at the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, he managed to reach the semi-finals.

(Photo: Mauricio Paiz)