Canadians clash at Wimbledon
It was only a matter of time until Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime won his first career main draw singles match at a Grand Slam tennis tournament.
That time came Monday as the 18-year-old from Montreal posted his first victory at his first Wimbledon as a professional – on Canada Day, no less – against fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
The 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Pospisil, 29, who was playing his first match since back surgery in January, was the first time Auger-Aliassime had played more than three sets to win a match in his life.
On a day when highly-regarded young stars Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas both were upset in the first round, getting out unscathed was a victory in itself for the 19th-seeded Auger-Aliassime.
“First matches in any tournaments are tough. I think they’re even tougher in Grand Slams. On grass things can go fast if you don’t serve well, return well,” he said. “I think the thing for me was just to accept it. ‘Okay, here’s the thing, I’m maybe nervous, not serving as well as I would like’ and to accept it and find ways to deal with that.”
Auger-Aliassime reached the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon junior event in 2016 when he was 15. That was his last visit to the All-England Club.
But despite his inexperience, many of the local bookmakers have him among the top six favourites to win the tournament.
Auger-Aliassime will play French qualifier Corentin Moutet in the second round.
Pospisil had the trainer come out on a couple of occasions to try to free his locked-up right hip – an alignment issue he dealt with a few weeks ago.
The treatment, in a nutshell, made it appear as though the trainer was trying to yank Pospisil’s right leg right out of its socket, even if it was less painful than it might have seemed.
“Considering I haven’t played for eight months, I was hitting the ball well. I started pretty well. I think as the match was going on, my level was just dropping a little bit. His was going up,” Pospisil said. “You know, you’ve got to be in top shape and playing extremely well to be beat Felix in any match. Best of five, especially.”
Following the two Canadians onto Court 12 was another countryman – No. 15 seed Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont.
Raonic, who reached the Wimbledon singles final in 2016, dispatched Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India 7-6, (1), 6-4, 6-2 to advance to a second-round meeting with Robin Haase of the Netherlands.
“It’s always been tough for me here, to win the first round of Wimbledon – no matter how well I’ve been playing. So today, I think I did a better job of creating some distance, and getting ahead, and giving myself a little more freedom to swing out.”