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Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov Win Indian Wells Openers – Tennis Canada

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Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov both impressed on Friday in Indian Wells, getting their campaigns off to winning starts. 

Both won their opening matches in straight sets, with Auger-Aliassime advancing to the third round after his first-round bye, while Shapovalov moved into round two after his match was pushed back to Friday due to rain on Thursday night. 

Combined with Milos Raonic’s victory, every Canadian man won their opening match in Indian Wells. 

This week marks one year since Auger-Aliassime last reached the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells, but he showed signs of re-finding that form in his opening-match win over Constant Lesitenne on Friday in Tennis Paradise.  

Auger-Aliassime controlled the match from start to finish, breaking early in both sets and never letting his opponent a chance back in the match as he advanced to the third round of 2024’s first Masters 1000 event with a 6-4, 6-1 win. 

While not the cleanest performance from the Canadian, Auger-Aliassime did enough to get the job done. Even though he only put 57 per cent of his first serves in play, he won 85 per cent of those points, losing just four total in the match, and saved the only three break points he faced.  

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A quick start proved critical for Auger-Aliassime, as he broke serve in the opening game and managed to maintain the initiative through the opening set.  

While he struggled to pull away from Lestienne, including failing to convert a pair of break points at 3-1, the Canadian did enough to keep the Frenchman on the defensive. Auger-Aliassime did not face a break point in the first set. 

Read also: Five Canadians Competing in Indian Wells

Once again the Canadian made his move early in the second set. Auger-Aliassime pulled out all kinds of highlight reel shots in the third game, clinching the break with a forehand winner followed by putting away a smash. 

Consolidating the break was one of the toughest moments of the match for Auger-Aliassime, as he faced break points for the only time all day. He found his best shots when he needed to though, striking a pair of winners to save the first two break points before Lestienne missed a backhand on the third, allowing the Canadian to hold. 

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Auger-Aliassime then punished his opponent in the following game, piling on the pressure on return and eventually converting his fourth break point of the game with some huge hitting to make it a double break lead. In the end, he won the last six games in a row, adding a third break to seal the win. 

The last time Auger-Aliassime went on a run at a Masters 1000 event, it was ended by Carlos Alcaraz in the 2023 Indian Wells quarter-finals. The Canadian might have a shot at revenge in the third round this year if the second-seeded Spaniard can defeat Matteo Arnaldi on Friday night. 

Shapovalov Renaissance 

So far in 2024, Denis Shapovalov has shown flashes of what he is capable of on a tennis court but has struggled to do it with consistency as he works his way back from injury. 

That was not the case on Friday as he delivered one of his best performances in months, blowing away Botic van de Zandschulp in straight sets 6-1, 6-4.  

Gone were the high error counts and rushed points that Shapovalov can be prone to. Instead, he kept his opponent under pressure without overdoing it and was happy to benefit from an error-filled match by van de Zandschulp. 

The Dutchman committed 18 unforced errors and only managed seven winners, while Shapovalov fired 20 winners, nearly twice as many as he had errors. It was a clinical serving performance from the Canadian who lost just six points on his first serve and only dropped serve once late in the match. 

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Following in Auger-Aliassime’s footsteps, Shapovalov got off to a quick start, breaking in his opponent’s first service game as he raced out to a 3-0 lead.  

It was one-way traffic for the Canadian, who was playing clean tennis and allowing his opponent to beat himself. In the fourth game, van de Zandschulp let a 40-love lead slip away as Shapovalov broke once again.  

Van de Zandschulp hung with Shapovalov early in the second set, but some spectacular defence leading to a lob winner from the Canadian to set up double break point at 2-2 seemed to break the Dutchman’s will. He double-faulted on the next point to surrender the break. 

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After Shapovalov broke again to go up 5-2, with the way he was serving it seemed like the match was over. However, the Canadian blinked for the first time all day, facing a couple of break points and ultimately netting a forehand after a line call he disagreed with to drop serve. 

For a minute, it looked like Shapovalov was on the brink of full collapse as he then went down 15-40 when he served for the match a second time at 5-4, but he managed to get back to the level where he had been all day, pulling out four straight big points to finish off the win. 

Shapovalov will meet No. 26 seed Lorenzo Musetti in the second round. He could face his countryman Milos Raonic in the third round if they both upset seeds in round two. 

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