Auger-Aliassime electrifies home crowd; Wawrinka, Djokovic advance

Tuesday, Aug 7

Felix Auger-Aliassime gave home fans something to cheer about Tuesday afternoon with a brilliant debut performance at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, defeating World No. 18 Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the second round.

The Canadian, who celebrates his 18th birthday tomorrow, went ahead an early break of serve in the first set courtesy of a few gifted unforced errors by his French opponent. Although he would be broken while serving for the set, he was able to capitalize on a few loose errors from Pouille to claim the set on a sweltering Toronto afternoon.

Auger-Aliassime’s confidence only grew in the second set, as he upped his first-serve percentage, striking four aces and dropping just two points on serve throughout the set. He finished the one-hour, 17-minute match finished with 25 winners to just 16 unforced errors.

In the day’s first match on Centre Court, Stan Wawrinka recovered from a set down to defeat No. 16 seed Nick Kyrgios, who wowed the crowd with an array of spectacular shots but was unable to keep up his level against his Swiss opponent. Wawrinka survived 26 aces off the Kyrgios racquet but smacked 13 of his own in a 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 decision.

Kyrgios started the match strongly, but appeared to struggle with a hip injury, which he took a medical time-out for late in the second set. It was three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka who held his nerve in the crucial moments of each of the final two sets to eventually claim victory in just over two hours.

Four-time Rogers Cup champion, and the ATP World Tour’s last champion here in Toronto, kicked off his campaign with a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over Mirza Basic. The tournament’s No. 9 seed was dominant throughout proceedings, showing no signs of a hangover from his Wimbledon triumph just under a month ago. Djokovic impressed in all areas of his versatile baseline game and, despite a wobble while serving for the match at 6-5 in the second set, he was able to close out his Lucky Loser opponent, who earned his spot in the main draw following Hyeon Chung’s withdrawal.

Meanwhile, around the grounds it was a jam-packed day of early-round tennis in Toronto.

The confines of National Bank Grandstand didn’t serve former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori well, the Japanese No.1 falling to an always-tricky Robin Haase 7-5, 6-1.

ATP NextGen star Stefanos Tsitsipas had better luck in the following match there, continuing his momentum from Washington, D.C., last week, where he made the semi-finals. He beat Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 7-6(3) for a shot to play No.7 seed Dominic Thiem in the second round. The two did battle at the French Open earlier this year, eventual finalist Thiem winning out in a much-talked-about affair.

Sam Querrey denied Adrian Mannarino a second straight dream run in Canada after the Frenchman was a quarter-finalist in Montreal last year. The American won 6-2, 7-5. Also winners: Frances Tiafoe, Karen Khachanov and Ryan Harrison, all in first-round affairs.

Tiafoe will face Canada’s Milos Raonic in round two.

Italian Fabio Fognini continued his hot streak having won in Los Cabos last week, his third title of the season. He beat Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4 on Grandstand and will play the winner of Denis Shapovalov and Jeremy Chardy for a spot in the final 16.

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