Auger-Aliassime advances at Rogers Cup after Raonic retires with injury

Canadian Bianca Andreescu withstood a marathon match on Wednesday to advance to the third round of the Rogers Cup.

Bianca Andreescu pushes through in marathon match

Milos Raonic waves to the crowd as he walks off the court after withdrawing from his match against compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament on Wednesday in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Felix Auger-Aliassime was changing wristbands in preparation for the third and final set of his showdown with Milos Raonic.

Seconds later, the teenager's countryman appeared — arm extended — to shake hands.

And just like that, Auger-Aliassime was moving on at his hometown tournament.

The rising tennis phenom advanced to the third round of the Rogers Cup on Wednesday night in Montreal after Raonic was forced to retire from their all-Canadian matchup with a back injury.

"I was pretty shook ... didn't really know how to react," Auger-Alissaime said. "A few seconds later it sunk in."

WATCH | Raonic retires from Rogers Cup due to injury:

Injuries forced Milos Raonic to retire after just two sets in an all-Canadian matchup against Felix Auger-Aliassime. 1:40

After losing the first set 6-3, Raonic received treatment from a trainer midway through the second on centre court.

The 28-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., battled to take that set by the same score but, after speaking with a doctor, the 19th-ranked player in the world called time in front of a disappointed crowd at IGA Stadium.

"[The] last 30 minutes of that match, just because of the situation we're playing in, being primetime night match here in Montreal, was probably the least enjoyable 30 minutes I've spent on a tennis court," said a dejected Raonic.

He added the pain, which flared up Tuesday night, started in his glute and crept down his leg.

"I just keep trying to pinpoint, figure out what the right step is," said Raonic, who has been plagued with various injuries this season and throughout his career. "I keep getting assured there's nothing extensively serious about the back."

Ranked No. 21 overall and set to turn 19 on Thursday, Auger-Aliassime picked up his 30th win of the campaign and improved to 14-4 over his last five tournaments.

He was happy to move on, but it wasn't the way he envisioned.

"To see Milos go out like that was not easy," Auger-Aliassime said.

Raonic, who withdrew from a semifinal against Auger-Aliassime in Stuttgart back in June and has yet to finish a tournament healthy in 2019, said the medical staff on site was unable to guarantee he wouldn't aggravate whatever's wrong if he kept playing.

"The thing that was most concerning [was] it was getting progressively worse," said Raonic, who had played just 10 events in 2019 prior to Montreal thanks to back and knee problems. "Even if I find a way to get through, which would be extremely tough, who knows if I'm even ready to play [Thursday]?"

That task instead falls to Auger-Aliassime, who will take on No. 6 Karen Khachanov after the Russian defeated Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2.

Marathon match

Earlier Wednesday, Canadian Bianca Andreescu withstood a marathon match on to advance to the third round of the Rogers Cup.

Andreescu edged Russia's Daria Kasatkina 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in a match that lasted two hours 40 minutes on centre court.

"I think I lost four games in a row [in the third set] and I was really, really pissed," said Andreescu, the last Canadian woman still standing in the singles draw of the Toronto tournament. "And I think I just took all that anger into my shots.

"That's why I think my shots were more effective."

The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., competing in just her third match since March because of a shoulder injury, appeared to run out of gas in the third set in front of a half-filled day session crowd at Aviva Centre.

WATCH | Andreescu prevails in 3-set marathon:

Playing her 2nd match in less than 24 hours, Bianca Andreescu fought through fatigue and cramping to beat Daria Kasatkina 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. 2:02

But she shook off the fatigue to break Kasatkina twice — first to tie it 5-all, then again for the 7-5 victory after hitting a trio of big forehand winners in the final game.

Andreescu began the set by going up 3-1, then lost back-to-back service games to give the No. 40-ranked Kasatkina a temporary 4-3 lead.

The match was Andreescu's second straight three-setter of the tournament. She had advanced to the second round by beating Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., in a lengthy all-Canadian centre-court clash Tuesday night.

Andreescu, who improved to 23-4 with the win, entered the Rogers Cup ranked No. 27. She will play No. 5 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in the third round.

She began the year at No. 107 and skyrocketed up the standings thanks to a fantastic start to the season — which included her first WTA title at Indian Wells in March. Andreescu reached a career-high No. 22 in May.

Kasatkina, a former top-10 player, dropped to 8-15 on the year.

No magic this time for Shapovalov

Denis Shapovalov wasn't able to repeat his Montreal magic.

The 20-year-old Canadian fell to Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in second-round action.

Shapovalov grabbed the hearts of tennis fans here in 2017 when he upset world No. 2 Rafael Nadal — ranked 141 spots ahead of the Richmond Hill, Ont., product at the time —on the way to making the semifinals.

But there will be no such run in 2019.

Shapovalov double faulted to hand Thiem, the tournament's second seed, a 5-4 lead in the first set on centre court at IGA Stadium.

The 31st-ranked player in world rebounded in second set, breaking Thiem to go up 5-2 and holding serve from there.

Then in the third set, Shapovalov doubled faulted and sent an overhand smash into the net to fall behind 5-3.

WATCH | Shapovalov falls in 2nd round:

Unforced errors in crucial moments were the downfall for Denis Shapovalov as he fell to Dominic Thiem in the 2nd round of the Rogers Cup 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. 1:25

Despite the partisan crowd doing its best to urge Shapovalov on, Thiem finished the Canadian off with an ace.

He waved to the crowd and tapped his heart as he exited the court.

Shapovalov snapped a five-match losing streak — and a 2-9 run dating back to March — with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round of the $5.7-million US ATP Tour Masters 1000 series event on Monday night.

Shapovalov lost in the round of 16 at last year's Rogers Cup in Toronto, where the women's bracket is being held in 2019.

The 25-year-old Thiem — ranked No. 4 in the world behind Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer — was coming off a victory on clay at the Generali Open in his native Austria.

Thiem has won three tournaments in 2019, including two on clay, but hadn't competed in a hardcourt event since March.

Thiem did, however, defeat Shapovalov 6-2, 6-3 on a hardcourt in Mexico last year in their only other meeting.

Wimbledon champ Halep advances 

Earlier Wednesday, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep of Romania defeated American qualifier Jennifer Brady 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5) in a back-and-forth second-round match.

Halep, who won the 2018 Rogers Cup title in Montreal, was up 4-0 in the third set before Brady stormed back by winning five straight games.

The No. 4 Halep broke the 76th-ranked Brady for a third time in the set to go up 6-5, but the former world No. 1 was broken right back to set up the tiebreak.

The match lasted two hours 29 minutes.

"It was a very, very tough one," said Halep, who'll face either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Donna Vekic in the third round. "I expected it because I knew that she's going to serve big and also the forehand is big. I didn't feel 100 per cent ready for the tournament because I had a long break [after Wimbledon].

"But I'm really pleased with the way it was today, the fact that I fought till the end."

Pliskova chasing top spot

Karolina Pliskova, another former world No. 1, continued her bid to get back to the top spot, advancing to the third round with a 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-2 win over American qualifier Alison Riske in the first match of the day on centre court.

The Czech native, who is now ranked third, could reclaim the No. 1 spot this week with a good run at the $2.83 million US WTA Tour Premier 5 event.

No. 2 Naomi Osaka advanced when Tatjana Marie retired with a back injury, temporarily allowing the 21-year-old from Japan to overtake the No. 1 ranking from Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Barty, a semifinalist at the tournament last year in Montreal, dropped her opener on Tuesday. 

Defending champ Nadal moves on

Nadal the top seed and defending champion, downed Great Britain's Daniel Evans 7-6 (6), 6-4 to advance to the third round in a match delayed by rain three times.

It was Nadal's tournament opener, with the top-8 seeds all getting first-round byes.

After rain delays of six and 30 minutes, the Spaniard fought off two set points in the first-set tiebreaker before prevailing.

WATCH | Nadal advances to 3rd round:

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal knocked off Daniel Evans in straight sets 7-6(6), 6-4, to reach the 3rd round of the Rogers Cup in Montreal. 0:46

Play was again stopped for one hour 56 minutes with Nadal leading the 53rd-ranked Evans 2-0 in the second set. The match lasted two hours one minute, excluding rain delays.

"All the matches are difficult here," said Nadal, a four-time Rogers Cup champion and the world No. 2. "It was a tough first set. Then in the second, I was able to take advantage at the beginning, but then he broke me back."


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