How could it happen again? – Félix Auger-Aliassime versus Denis Shapovalov in the first round of the US Open. A year ago Shapovalov won 7-5, 5-7, 4-1 ret. when Auger-Aliassime experienced a racing heart-rate and had to stop.
Last fall he had a procedure to deal with the arrhythmia and has had no problems since that US Open incident.
Equally shocking in Thursday’s draws was the women’s blockbuster opening round between superstars Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
That’s already being billed as a night match and it is quite likely that Auger-Aliassime vs. Shapovalov could also be under the lights in either Arthur Ashe or Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Another fascinating first-round match on the women’s side features all-Belorussian encounter between former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and her compatriot No. 9-ranked Aryna Sabalenka. There’s also a chance of 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens meeting the resurgent 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round.
Probably the most exciting first-rounder on the men’s side is No. 8 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas against rising Russian Andrey Rublev. Also notable first-rounders have Nick Kyrgios vs. Steve Johnson and No. 11 seed Fabio Fognini vs. Reilly Opelka.
In terms of the big names – Roger Federer as No. 3 seed fell in No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic’s half of the draw but has a promising early start, facing a qualifier in the first round.
After Peter Polansky was defeated in the second round of qualifying on Thursday, the lone Canadian with a chance to reach the main draw is Steven Diez.
Women (ranking and US Open record)
Bianca Andreescu: No. 15 (Seed #15) – Qualifying 0-2.
Andreescu will be attempting to win her first US Open main draw match when she plays little-known American Katie Volynets. The 17-year-old Californian won the U.S. National under-18s and received a wild card into the main draw. Andreescu has a favourable draw early but could face No. 19 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the third round and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep in the round-of-16.
Genie Bouchard: No. 119 – 8-6.
The 25-year-old from Montreal has drawn No. 12 seed Anastasija Sevastova. Bouchard, on an 11-match losing streak, has a 1-2 record against the 29-year-old Latvian – winning on hard court in Doha in 2016 before losing on grass in 2016 in Majorca and at the French Open on clay in 2017. Sevastova’s US Open record is 16-6 – her best at all of the Grand Slams.
Men (ranking and US Open record)
Félix Auger-Aliassime: No. 19 (Seed #18) – 0-1
It’s hard to get over the incredible fact that probably the two most promising young players in Canadian tennis history could be drawn to play each other two years in a row at the US Open. Shapovalov, 20, won the 2018 match but the 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime evened their record as professionals at 1-1 when he won 6-2, 7-6(7) in the opening round in Madrid on clay in May.
Milos Raonic: No. 22 (Seed #21) 15-7.
Raonic will face 6-foot-6 Nicolas Jarry in the first round. It’s a first meeting and Jarry (1-1) will be playing his second US Open. Now No. 69, the 23-year-old Chilean ranked as high as No. 38 last month and has a big game. So far in 2019, Raonic’s record is 21-10 while Jarry is 19-16.
Denis Shapovalov: No. 38 – 5-2.
Shapovalov goes into the big first-round match against Auger-Aliassime with some confidence after winning two rounds impressively at this week’s ATP 250 event in Winston Salem, N.C. In Thursday’s quarter-final he will face Andrey Rublev, the man who upset Roger Federer last week in Cincinnati. The winner of the Shapovalov – Auger-Aliassime first round would likely play No. 13 seed Gael Monfils in the third round and then No. 4 Dominic Thiem in the fourth.
Brayden Schnur: No. 92 – 0-0.
It’s a first meeting for Schnur, playing in his second main draw at a Grand Slam event, and the No. 30-ranked Benoit Paire. The 30-year-old Frenchman is top-seeded in the Winston Salem event this week and is into the quarter-finals. Schnur will try to build on the wins over Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson the last time he played in New York – on his way to the final of the New York Open in February.
Vasek Pospisil: No. 216 – 3-7
The 29-year-old Pospisil has not had much luck in main draws since he returned at Wimbledon from his January back surgery. It will be a first meeting when he faces No. 9 seed Karen Khachanov in the first round – the 23-year-old Russia is coming off a semi-final finish at the Rogers Cup in Montreal and an excruciating win over Nick Kyrgios last week in Cincinnati. At two of Pospisil’s four events since July – he has lost twice to Félix Auger-Aliassime in the first round.
🇨🇦 Felix Auger-Aliassime is a younger player to watch at this year's #USOpen
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 22, 2019
It appears this interview was done the day Auger-Aliassime lost to Miomir Kecmanovic at the Cincinnati Masters 1000 last week – but he was nonetheless in good spirits.