Rogers Cup is Yielding Canada's Best
The Rogers Cup kicked off Saturday, August 3rd with the women playing in Toronto and the men in Montreal. The first round included a matchup of 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu versus No. 78 Eugenie Bouchard on the women's side. A face-off between Félix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil was on the men.
After our one-to-watch Canadian women, tennis player Eugenie (Genie) Bouchard was eliminated in the first round of the biggest Grand Slam, Wimbledon, last month, she’s back and ready to play on home soil. The young Andreescu started 2019 ranked upwards of 150 in the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) and is now ranked No. 22 in the world. That makes her our top Canadian female. On the men’s side, the winner of the all-Canadian match will go on to play another all-Canadian match against No. 19 Milos Raonic. Our All-Canadian first-round match-ups guarantee that a hometown player will move on to the round of 32 for both the men and women. In typical Canadian fashion, both these pairings are friends with one another, making these matchups that much more exciting, for players and spectators alike.
Bouchard vs. Andreescu
E. Bouchard 6 1 4
B. Andreescu 4 6 6
Going into this tournament, a lot of anticipation has built surrounded the emerging star, Andreescu. She has only played in 4 competitive matches since winning the Indian Wells title in March and has not played competitively for the last nine weeks.
Starting the match, Andreescu landed her second serve, but a short rally ended with a ball to the net. A few missed serves and long balls later, Andreescu was able to shake it off and get right back into the game, exemplifying her strong mental toughness. After sitting out Wimbledon last month with a shoulder injury, Bianca seems to be well recovered, with no tape on her shoulder in Tuesday’s match. Genie Bouchard, being the face of Canadian Women’s Tennis over the past few years has strong competition in her friend Andreescu, who may very well be taking her place as our Canadian women’s tennis star.
In the first set, we saw good tennis being played on both ends as the girls were back and forth, with four games each. Bouchard broke Andreescu’s service game taking the lead 5-4 and held her own serve taking the set 6-4. In the second set, Andreescu dominated, taking Bouchard’s lead in the last game of the set from Love - 30 to win the set, 6-1, levelling the match at a set each. In the third set, Bianca breaks Genie’s serve, winning the first game. They both held their service games until Bouchard broke Andreescu’s serve in the 6th game of the set resulting in 3 games apiece in the final set. The eighth game was the pivotal moment in this match, when Bianca clinched the game point after a long rally, beautifully exemplifying these competitors’ strengths.
In the ninth game, Andreescu dominated and swept Bouchard, with Bianca one game away from the match. Bouchard serves the 10th game coming away with the first 2 points, but Andreescu quickly takes the lead 40-30. The game goes to deuce, advantage Bouchard, back to deuce. Bouchard hits an ace at a crucial point in the match, with a possibility to begin a comeback. Again, advantage Bouchard, and as Andreescu hits a long ball, Bouchard comes away with the game, saving the match point and bringing the set to 5 - 4 for Andreescu. In an uneventful final game of the match, Andreescu holds her service game to win the set 6-4, taking the match and advancing to the round of 32. This emerging tennis star definitely has a fan in me after this exciting match.
Andreescu went on to face Daria Kasatkina in a match where her athleticism and skill was evident, but her age showed through in silly mistakes and unforced errors. In the first set, she forced the set to go to past six games, where Kasatkina took it 7-5. In the second, Andreescu swiftly came away with the set 6-2. In the third set, after six opportunities to break Kasaktina’s serve, altering from deuce to advantage and back to deuce, Andreescu came away with the point. Andreescu leading in the third set 6-5 was up 40 - 15 for a chance at match point and won the match by a long ball from Kasaktina. Our young Canadian star will go on to the round of 16 and it should be a good match to watch; it’ll be interesting to see how far she can go home this week and to watch her growth going forward in the coming years.
Pospisil vs. Auger-Aliassime
F. Auger-Aliassime 6 6 7
V. Pospisil 2 7 6
Vasek Pospisil and Félix Auger-Aliassime played high-quality tennis in this first-round match, both being Canadian and happy to be playing on home soil. These two are competitive players by nature and played a tough match. Félix playing for the first time at home against his fellow Davis Cup team member and friend. Vasek played very well against the young emerging star, at only 18 Félix is ranked No. 21. Vasek, ranked at No. 22, has had a successful career thus far as he has been the face of Canadian men’s tennis, right behind Milos Raonic. This first-round match between Vasek and Félix was a tricky game mentally and physically. Pospisil cramped up toward the end of the matchmaking it difficult for him to serve. After Vasek was able to get the ball in play, Auger-Aliassime recognized, his opponent was in pain, knowing he would have to make his hurting opponent move to clinch the next few points. Auger-Aliassime played a strong game in the sense that he was able to find a way to regroup after losing a couple points and come back even tougher. Pospisil, returning from injury with this match, after undergoing back surgery, played a good game, but the recent surgery caused him to cease up which affected his game at a crucial point in the match. His struggle to serve, lead him to lose the following couple points, giving Auger-Aliassime the upper hand, taking this match and moving on in the tournament.
Next up, in the second round, another Canadian face-off, Auger-Aliassime will play Milos Raonic.
Milos Raonic vs. Félix Auger-Aliassime
Going into this match Auger-Aliassime is all business, having played Milos Raonic before. He knows Raonic is an aggressive player with a very strong serve, so Auger-Aliassime will need to play a bit defensive on serves but aggressive in rally play. In the first set, both Milos and Félix were able to hold their services for the first 3 games, until the fourth game when Auger-Aliassime challenged a call on Milos’ serve and the call was ruled as out and he broke Milos’ service game on a long ball. Auger-Aliassime dominated the first set, taking the set 6-3. In the second, both players held their serve for the first three games until Raonic broke Auger-Aliassime’s serve in the fourth game. At this point in the match, Raonic with his killer serve had accumulated 12 aces, winning the second set. Shortly into the third set, Milos was in too much pain due to sustaining a back injury. Unfortunately, Raonic could not go on and forfeited the match, sending Auger-Aliassime to the next round, but not in the victorious way Félix had hoped.
After a rough go at Wimbledon with many Canadians sitting out due to injury and those who did participate being eliminated early in the tournament, our Canadian’s were able to return from a low point across seas and shine on home soil. Hopefully, they will continue to persevere throughout the week. The youngsters, Andreescu and Auger-Aliassime will be the ones to watch going forward, not only this week but next month at the US Open and the upcoming years.