Tennis·U.S. OPEN

Veteran Pospisil upsets No. 9 seed in marathon, Shapovalov defeats Auger-Aliassime in all-Canadian clash

Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil upset No. 9 seed Karen Khachanov in a match that nearly went four hours at the U.S. Open on Tuesday.

On women's side, Andreescu wins despite error-filled match

Canada's Vasek Pospisil shrugs off a lost point in his upset win over Karen Khachanov at the U.S. Open on Tuesday. (Kevin Hagen/Associated Press)

Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil upset No. 9 seed Karen Khachanov in a match that nearly went four hours at the U.S. Open on Tuesday.

Pospisil, who had been off the court since last October and had back surgery in January, returned to action only at Wimbledon. He entered the U.S. Open on a protected injury ranking — his current singles ranking stands at No. 216.

The 29-year-old hustled No. 9 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia out of the tournament with a 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory that took three hours 51 minutes. He'll play American Tennys Sandgren in the second round.

It was the first fifth-set victory for Pospisil since he had three on his way to a quarter-final result at Wimbledon in 2015.

"I actually had an issue the last couple of days, I was nervous coming into the match. It wasn't really back related. It was something with my hip," Pospisil said. "But I was telling a few people this is the best my back has felt since I had my injury in 2014. I mean, we'll see. Obviously knocking on wood again. But definitely the best I've felt since 2013."

WATCH | Pospisil scores upset:

Vasek Pospisil upset Karen Khachanov in an epic five-set match in the first round of the U.S. Open. 1:01

Meanwhile in a highly-anticipated evening match, 20-year-old Denis Shapovalov easily downed fellow Canadian 19-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 in the first-round.

Shapovalov rolled to victory 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 in just an hour and 38 minutes.

"Both mentally and tennis-wise, I think I was pretty flawless today. I stayed focused, and I think I executed pretty well," Shapovalov said.

The 20-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont. hit 28 winners to only nine for Auger-Aliassime. He broke his serve six times in 10 opportunities — and even went 16 for 18 at the net.

He also attacked his 19-year-old friend's second serve pitilessly, with Auger-Aliassime winning just 27 per cent of his second-serve points. And Auger-Aliassime went 0 for 5 on break-point opportunities on Shapovalov's serve.

Auger-Aliassime, who was the No. 18 seed (Shapovalov was unseeded), still hadn't processed exactly how the Shapovalov freight train had run over him, even an hour post match.

WATCH | Shapo beats pal Felix:

Denis Shapovalov won the first-round match in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, 6-4. 1:23

"I haven't really figured out where I'm going to go from here, like, what to think from that match. I don't even know what my emotions are. I don't know if I should be frustrated, sad. I'm not sure," Auger-Aliassime said.

"He just hit me with some really good tennis. I just had a nervous start. After I was fine. I just couldn't figure out what to do."

Shapovalov added Mikhail Youzhny, a former top-10 player from Russia who recently retired after a long career, for the tune-up event in Winston-Salem last week and for the U.S. Open.

Youzhny is new to coaching, but he has a "been there, done that," element Shapovalov has not had so far with his various coaches.

"The last 3-4 weeks I've been playing a lot better during my matches. And Mischa has helped me concentrate on a couple of things in my game to make sure I'm able to play my best tennis during these moments," Shapovalov said. "He's definitely helped me a lot. He's been a great add the last couple of weeks."

Canada's Denis Shapovalov celebrates a point in his win over compatriot and friend Félix Auger-Aliassime at the U.S. Open on Tuesday. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Much earlier in the day, Rogers Cup champion Bianca Andreescu survived some opening-match nerves to advance to the second round

The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont. prevailed 6-2, 6-4 against 17-year-old American wild card Katie Volynets to advance to a second-round encounter with Belgian veteran Kirsten Flipkens.

"It's my first round, first match of the tournament. Maybe I was a little bit rusty at the beginning. I'm also playing someone younger than me, so that's not the best scenario. I'm usually the 'young one.' But it's nice to see these up-and-coming players play on big stages like this," Andreescu said.

The Canadian had some tape under her left knee, as she had for her last few days in practice but not when she first arrived in New York to prepare.

WATCH | Andreescu into 2nd round:

Canada's Bianca Andreescu beats Katie Volynets in straight sets 6-2, 6-4. 1:14

"I was feeling it a little bit during my practices, but it's nothing serious," Andreescu said.

A large Canadian contingent was on hand to support all the Canadians, shuffling from court to court with Canada gear.

If the fans didn't know quite who to cheer for in the Shapovalov-Auger-Aliassime match, they more often than not cheered for both.

In his first U.S Open main draw, Brayden Schnur of Pickering, Ont. fell 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 to No. 29 seed Benoit Paire of France.

WATCH | Schnur loses in 1st round:

Schnur fell in straight sets to Benoit Paire on Tuesday in New York. 1:03

"Obviously a big tournament. Didn't feel comfortable the first two sets. So I think that played a huge role in me getting down. Then he built a lot of confidence and started hitting some really good shots in the third set," Schnur said. "I thought I prepared really well for this event. Every day I was practising really well. But I'm just not doing it in the matches right now."

Shapovalov (with India's Rohan Bopanna), Pospisil (with Hubert Hurkacz), Andreescu (with fellow Canadian Sharon Fichman) and Gabriela Dabrowski (with mixed partner Mate Mavic of Croatia) all will be in doubles action on Wednesday.

 

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