Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov Make History at Roland-Garros

For the first time in the Open Era, two Canadian men are into the third round of the French Open as Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov both advanced at Roland-Garros with gritty wins on another rainy day in Paris. 

Both were scheduled to play on Wednesday but were washed out. When they came back on Thursday, Auger-Aliassime was able to find a way past qualifier Henri Squire while Shapovalov caused an upset by taking out No. 25 seed Frances Tiafoe, both in four sets. 

It is the first time that both Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov reached the third round at the same major since the 2023 Australian Open. 

Auger-Aliassime did not have things all his own way in his second-round clash with Squire, but the Canadian was able to find his way into the third round with a four-set win. 

Like his first-round match, Auger-Aliassime found himself bouncing back-and-forth between the court and the locker room as rain continues to wreak havoc in Paris. But when he was on court, he managed to stay composed despite an inspired effort from the German, reaching the third round with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win. 

It was another solid performance from the Canadian, who won 81 per cent of his first serve points and fired 37 winners to 35 unforced errors. He benefited from 42 unforced errors off of Squire’s racket. His return game was also strong, breaking serve seven times and winning 67 per cent of the German’s second serve points. 

Read also: ATP Power Rankings Ahead of Roland-Garros

Auger-Aliassime’s opening round win was a serving clinic, but he got off to an erratic start in round two. Having not faced a single break point against Nishioka, he double-faulted to give Squire two looks in just his second service game of the match. However, he saved the first with an ace and was able to get out of the jam. 

After breaking for a 4-2 lead, the Canadian again found himself under pressure on serve. This time, it was full credit to Squire who ripped three straight winners to immediately get the break back. 

Read also: Rafael Nadal’s Unforgettable First in Montreal

Serving to stay in the set at 4-5, the German’s nerves got the better of him. From 40-30 up, he hit back-to-back double faults to gift Auger-Aliassime a set point and followed it up with an error to hand the set to the Canadian. 

Despite having taken the opening set, Auger-Aliassime struggled to build momentum in the second. A brief rain delay at 2-1 did not help him settle in. He battled through some service games early in the set before caving late, dropped his serve at 4-4 which set up Squire to level the match. 

However, the Canadian wasted little time in putting the second set misstep behind him, breaking to love on his way to a quick 3-0 lead in the third. Squire recovered the break almost immediatel, but played a sloppy game as he served to level the set, dumping a routine serve-and-volley into the net to give Auger-Aliassime a 4-2 lead. 

When the 21st seed was a game away from taking the third set at 5-2, the rain returned, causing a nearly three-hour delay. When they returned, Auger-Aliassime held his next service game to wrap up the set. 

Read also: Andreescu Makes Winning Return with Impressive Win at French Open

Squire did not do himself any favours in the opening game of the fourth set, double-faulting to give the Canadian a break point and then sending a backhand long to fall behind an immediate break. Auger-Aliassime quickly held to love to make it a 2-0 lead. 

The Canadian fully had a read on his opponent’s serve in the fourth set, breaking three times in four opportunities. 

Auger-Aliassime has a chance to match his best result at the French Open by reaching the fourth round. To do so, he will have to beat either No. 15 seed Ben Shelton, or Kei Nishikori, who outlasted Gabriel Diallo in round one. 

Shapovalov Causes an Upset 

Coming off a strong performance in round one against Luca Van Assche, Denis Shapovalov had to dig deep to upset No. 25 seed Frances Tiafoe 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday at the French Open. 

With the win, the Canadian matches his best result at the French Open, having also reached the third round a year ago. 

Considering both are big hitters, Shapovalov was by far the more aggressive player, hitting an astounding 66 winners, more than double Tiafoe’s 31, but also committing nearly twice as many unforced errors, 49 to 25. He also defended his serve incredibly well, saving 19 of 20 break points he faced while breaking his opponent five times. 

For two players with formidable serves, the pair wasted no time in putting each other under pressure as both had to save a break point in their opening service game. Tiafoe settled in quickly after that, but Shapovalov kept having to battle, holding from 15-40 down in his third service game and love-40 in his fourth. 

View: WTA Power Rankings – Is Swiatek’s fourth Roland Garros title inevitable?

No breaks came in the opening set and a tiebreak was required. Tiafoe got out to a quick 3-0 lead, only for the Canadian to reel him back in. At that critical moment, the rain intervened and forced the players off court for just under an hour. When they returned, the American won four of five points to close out the opening set. 

Shapovalov again had to save a break point early in the second set before turning the tables. In the third game, he drew an error to set up his first break point since Tiafoe’s first service game of the match and ripped a winner to seize the initiative. He then held to love to go up 3-1. 

In a marathon game on the American’s serve at 4-2, Shapovalov had three chances to make it a double break lead but could not convert and Tiafoe was able stay within one break after over nine minutes. 

That missed opportunity nearly came back to bite the Canadian when he fell down love-40 serving for the set at 5-4. However, after Tiafoe netted a drop shot on the first break point, Shapovalov served his way out of the jam with back-to-back aces to get back to deuce. He then struck consecutive winners to level the match at one set apiece. 

Read also: Canadian Roland-Garros Draw Preview 

After Shapovalov held serve for 1-1 in the third, the rain once again sent the players back to the locker room. This time, they had to wait nearly three hours before returning to the court. 

When they did, it was a whole new match as suddenly both men were struggling to hold serve. The first three games after the restart went to the returner, two of them to Shapovalov. Even as he served to consolidate his second break, the Canadian had to dig out of a 15-40 hole and saved four break points in the game, three with forehand winners, before holding for a 4-2 lead. 

Tiafoe’s served had completely vanished. He dropped his first three games after the rain delay, allowing Shapovalov to take a two sets to one lead, and then had to save a break point in his opening service game in the fourth before finally holding. 

Read also: Fernandez Beats Wang to Advance

The American had his chance to flip the momentum completely when he led 15-40 on Shapovalov’s serve in the fourth game, but the Canadian hit his way out of the jam and then went back to work on return. 

Shapovalov had a chance to break at 3-3 but missed his return. Two games later, he had two chances and after Tiafoe saved the first with a big serve, he netted a volley to set the Canadian up to serve out the win.  

The draw does not get any easier for Shapovalov, as he will have to face world No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz in the third round.  

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

forty three  −  thirty seven  =