Shapovalov advances at U.S. Open after Auger-Aliassime retires
Fellow Canadians Raonic, Pospisil also reach 2nd round
Canada's Denis Shapovalov is moving on at the U.S. Open after his compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime was forced to retire in the third set of their first-round match on Monday.
The clash between the promising Canadian teenagers was cut short with Shapovalov leading 7-5, 5-7, 4-1.
Watch highlights from the all-Canadian clash:
Montreal's Auger-Aliassime, who was making his first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam, was attended to by medical staff during a changeover in the third set and said his heart was racing.
The 18-year-old attempted to return to play after a pause, but retired after looking out of sorts for the next three games.
Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., embraced a tearful Auger-Aliassime at centre court after the match ended.
Watch Shapovalov console Auger-Aliassime after his decision to retire:
"It's tough to see a friend go down like that. It was tough. When I saw that he was struggling, I still had to keep trying to win, keep kind of pounding it on him. It wasn't easy for me," Shapovalov said. "This match — it's great for Canadian tennis. Two young guys that are coming up, that have grown up together, playing against each other.
"It's really good. I feel that's the reason why so many Canadians are picking up tennis rackets. Honestly, it's great when these matches happen."
Both struggle with their serves
Both teens struggled with the consistency of their service game. Shapovalov launched four aces, nine double faults and got just 55 per cent of his first serves in. Auger-Aliassime, meanwhile, had three aces, nine double faults and landed 53 per cent of his first serves.
The 28th-seeded Shapovalov also fired 25 winners and had 48 unforced errors, while his Canadian counterpart had 10 and 45, respectively.
Shapovalov will face Andreas Seppi of Italy in the second round.
Shapovalov is 19, making him the youngest player in the ATP top 100. Auger-Aliassime just turned 18 on Aug. 8, making him the youngest player in the ATP top 200. Their combined age made this the youngest U.S. Open men's match since 2006, when Novak Djokovic, 19, beat Donald Young, 17.
'It's been a pretty crazy ride'
What made this one all the more compelling was the history shared by the two Canadians. They go back to when they were seven or eight years old, Shapovalov said.
"Our whole lives, we've known each other," Shapovalov said.
In the scheme of things, that's really not all that long, of course. Still, the friendship and bond they have is considerable.
"It's been a pretty crazy ride with him. I remember playing him at Nationals, under 10s, under 18s, junior tournaments," Shapovalov said. "Now we are here, playing at a Grand Slam."
They won the 2015 U.S. Open boys' doubles title together. In a recent interview, Shapovalov spoke fondly of that triumph and the memory of the two going to watch Roger Federer face Novak Djokovic in the men's final in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
So <a href="https://twitter.com/felixtennis?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@felixtennis</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/denis_shapo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@denis_shapo</a> are playing doubles together in Toronto next week and it's going to be amazing. Here's a throwback to when they won the US Open boys' doubles title in 2015!<br><br>Nice hair, Denis. 😂 <a href="https://t.co/xwkmAWqeHF">pic.twitter.com/xwkmAWqeHF</a>—@TennisCanada
A year later, Auger-Aliassime won the U.S. Open boys' singles title.
Grand Slam debut
This was the Grand Slam debut for Auger-Aliassime, and only the 12th match on tour anywhere for him. He went through qualifying rounds to earn a spot in the main draw in New York.
In 2017, it was Shapovalov who qualified at Flushing Meadows and then made a stirring run to the fourth round, making him the youngest man into the round of 16 since Michael Chang in 1989. That helped him crack the top 50 soon after, the youngest player to get that high in the men's rankings since Rafael Nadal did it in 2004.
Pretty heady company for the kid. Auger-Aliassime, meanwhile, joined Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Richard Gasquet as the only players to win three or more Challenger events before turning 18.
"I told him at the net, 'Hopefully, one day we'll be playing in the finals of this tournament.' I told him to keep his head up," Shapovalov said. "We're going to have so many matches together."
In other men's first-round action, Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil downed Lukas Lacko of Slovakia in straight sets 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.
Watch Pospisil close out Lacko:
Pospisil will face Rafael Nadal in the second round after David Ferrer was forced to retire with Nadal ahead 6-3, 3-4.
Raonic advances to 2nd round
Canada's Milos Raonic advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open with a 7-6 (4), 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Argentine qualifier Carlos Berlocq on Monday.
Watch highlights of Raonic's first-round win:
The hard-serving star from Thornhill, Ont., fired 26 aces past Berlocq and won 91 per cent of his first service points.
It wasn't a clean win for Raonic, who committed 45 unforced errors compared to Berlocq's 11.
Raonic, the 25th seed in New York, will next face France's Gilles Simon. Raonic owns a 4-1 advantage in the head-to-head series with Simon, including both meetings on hardcourts.
Raonic was originally scheduled to face Jared Donaldson in the first round before the American withdrew due to a knee injury.
With files from The Associated Press, CBC Sports