Félix Auger-Aliassime is through to the third round of the Rogers Cup, but the Montreal teenager had mixed feelings about how he got there.Fellow Canadian Milos Raonic had just won the second set to pull even in their second-round match when he stunned the packed house at IGA Stadium by retiring with a back injury.The match goes into the record book as 6-3, 3-6, retired.“It’s the first time something like that has happened to me,” Auger-Aliassime said. “The positive side is that I get a chance to play tomorrow again, I got the victory. In the end, to see Milos go out like that was not easy to see. So, yeah, I’m not going to try to make a whole big deal out of it. I think it’s things that just happen. It’s happened to me before. Sometimes it happens to the opponent. I think now it’s just time to focus on what’s ahead.”Auger-Aliassime’s serve was close to perfect in the first set. He lost only four points in five service games, put 78 per cent of his first serves into play and delivered five aces. He broke for a 3-1 lead after Raonic led the game 40-15.“When I’m serving like I did today, it’s a big relief for my game, for my baseline game,” Auger-Aliassime said. “To know or feel like I can have one or two free points every game that I’m serving is a big advantage. I think that’s something that I’ve improved a lot, the power, obviously the precision of my serve in the last year. It has helped me to play well on every surface. I think I showed it again today.”But it was a different story in the second set. Whatever problems Raonic was having, they weren’t reflected in his play. It was Raonic who broke serve in the fourth game and he maintained the advantage for a 4-1 lead after surviving three break points. As he double-faulted to fall behind 0-40, he climbed back to deuce with his 12th ace and took advantage of two unforced errors by Auger-Aliassime to hold.As the second set wore on, there were signs that all was not well with Raonic, who has dealt with knee and back problems this year. He received treatment on his back during a medical timeout after going ahead 4-1 and he had a brief conversation with a trainer two games later. He packed it in after another consultation at the end of the set.“Sometimes you have a pain somewhere, but it goes away,” Auger-Aliassime said when asked if he could tell Raonic was hurting. “I thought maybe the pain went away. But sometimes on some returns, I felt he was less reactive. I felt he was defending less, not serving as well, not moving as well. So there were some signs showing he might not finish the match. But in the end, I was surprised like everyone else to see him retire, especially after winning the second set.”“I felt generally sore in my back before the match started, but it wasn’t something I was too concerned about,” Raonic said. “Started sort of going down my leg pretty early into one of my service games. I think the one game, I don’t think I put many first serves in the game, I got broken. I think at that point it started. I started sort of feeling sort of a tweak. That started to progress more and more as the match went on.”It’s the second time this year that Auger-Aliassime has been credited with a win because of a Raonic injury. They were scheduled to play in the semifinals on the grass in Stuttgart in June, but Raonic pulled out with a back problem.Raonic talked about his injuries after he beat Lucas Pouille on Monday and said he was looking forward to getting through his first tournament healthy. This was not it.
Montreal’s Félix Auger-Aliassime turns 19 on Thursday, when he will face No. 6 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Rogers Cup.
Eric Bolte /
USA TODAY Sports
Auger-Aliassime will mark his 19th birthday Thursday by playing sixth-seeded Karen Khachanov of Russia, who was a 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2 winner over Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka. That match will be in IGA Stadium at 2:30.There were two upsets involving top-five seedsHubert Hurkacz of Poland, who was the last player to gain a direct entry into the main draw, defeated fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan was upset by Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (4) in a nail-biter that lasted more than five hours, when a rain delay of two hours is included. Nishikori was scheduled to play doubles with Grigor Dimitrov, but he withdrew with an elbow injury.Eighth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia breezed to a 6-3, 6-0 win over Kyle Edmund of Britain.Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain, the 10th seed, defeated Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 7-5, while 14th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia defeated lucky loser John Millman of Australia 6-3, 6-4.But 6-foot-10 American John Isner, the 12th seed, was upset by Cristian Garin of Chile 6-3, 6-4. Isner had five break points in the match, but failed to convert any of them.Gaël Monfils, the 16th seed from France, defeated qualifier Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 6-3, 7-6 (6).With two rain delays and a busy schedule, Monfils was forced to play on a back court and said he relished the experience.“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Monfils said. “I’m just saying sometimes it’s great to play on a smaller court, with the crowd very close. We can feel their energy, the passion, yeah, the love in it. I love it, to be honest. It’s great.”Monfils is regarded as one of the most entertaining players on the tour and he said it comes naturally.“I’m just being myself,” he said. “Sometimes haters would say or misunderstand how lucky I am to be doing what I’m doing, to be healthy and play my sport and passion. For me, tennis is a sport, yeah, some people would say my job. It’s my job, yes, but it’s a sport. It’s my passion.“I can play with kids for hours.,” he said. “Playing a Grand Slam for me is just a passion. When I’m on the court, you know, it’s a blessing. I can see so many of my friends, they wish to be there. Then I think just work for it, enjoy for it, just be myself, not try to play a role.”email@example.com/zababes1Related