Canadian teens drop opener in doubles

The Canadian Press
Melissa Couto

TORONTO–Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime walked out to a loud applause from a jam-packed grand stand at the Rogers Cup last night.
They took a few warm-up shots, smiled at each other, then calmly faced off against two of the top players in the game.
While the Canadian teenagers came up short, falling 6-3, 6-2 in the first-round doubles match against 2018 Wimbledon champ Novak Djokovic and runner-up Kevin Anderson, they weren’t jostled by the pedigree of their opponents.
“Our game was there, we didn’t feel intimidated at all,” said the 19-year-old Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont.
“Just to have a chance to play with these guys is already good,” added Auger-Aliassime, a Montreal native who won’t turn 18 until later this week.
Djokovic and Anderson defeated the teens handedly in a match that was delayed when rain interrupted the afternoon schedule for nearly three hours.
Minutes after the teenagers’ loss, Canada’s Milos Raonic topped David Goffin of Belgium 6-3, 6-4 on centre court to advance to the second round of the singles draw.
Doubles partners on the junior circuit years ago and wild-card entries for this week’s tournament, the two started the match strong before Djokovic and Anderson took control.
They broke Anderson’s serve for a 2-0 lead but the Wimbledon finalists team–nicknamed “Djokerson” thanks to a Twitter poll conducted by Djokovic earlier in the day–broke back to tie the match 2-2 and then again to go up 5-3.
Raonic, ranked No. 30, also got off to a hot start in his match, breaking Goffin for a 4-1 lead in the first set.
The former world No. 3, who has battled numerous injuries over the past two seasons, including a quad tear at Wimbledon last month, used his powerful serve to his advantage.
He fired 13 aces to Goffin’s two and won 100 percent of his first-service points.
“I think I can still serve much better, I don’t think I served particularly well,” Raonic said.
“So I’ll take the time to work on some things tomorrow [Tuesday] but overall it was a good performance,” he added.
“Mentally I was in the right state of mind the whole way through and I was very disciplined with myself.”
Raonic, of Thornhill, Ont., will play the winner of a match between American Frances Tiafoe and Italy’s Marco Cecchinato in the second round.
Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime appeared to be having fun throughout their doubles match and with both more focused on the singles’ draw, Shapovalov said that was the plan.
Both players will open their singles’ tournament today with Shapovalov playing Jeremy Chardy of France and Auger-Aliassime, No. 134 in the world, making his Rogers Cup main draw debut against Frenchman Lucas Pouille.
American Venus Williams advanced to the second round of the Rogers Cup women’s tournament in Montral with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Caroline Dolehide yesterday before heavy rain delayed play on and off for three hours and eventually was suspended.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion now will face Sorana Cristea (No. 54) or Monica Niculescu (No. 69) in the second round.
In doubles action, Eugenie Bouchard of nearby Westmount and American partner Sloane Stephens upset the fifth-seeded duo of Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (6).
“The reason I played doubles was to get more games under my belt,” said Bouchard.
“It’s better than just a normal practice,” she noted. “I really worked on my service game, my volleys, my return.
“It can help with my singles game,” Bouchard reasoned. “Every victory can give you confidence.”
Bouchard only has played in six doubles matches this season, including three with Stephens.