The match that brought Sunday to a close in the Manolo Santana Stadium lived up to the considerable expectation it had generated. The two Canadians Denis Shapovalov (world number 20) and Felix Auger-Aliassime (30) put on one of the matches of the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open so far. As expected, the two young guns fought tooth and nail for their ticket to the second round. The younger of the two, Auger-Aliassime, took the spoils (6-2, 7-6 ) and will now meet Rafael Nadal when the world number 2 gets his campaign underway next week.
Auger-Aliassime’s power and his practically unstoppable serve proved too much for Shapovalov. Although he fought back in the second set to take it to a tense tiebreak, he was unable to keep up with his national teammate. Together they won the Junior Davis Cup for Canada in 2015 on the same Caja Mágica clay, beating Nicola Kuhn’s Germany. However, this time they were on opposite sides of the net and there could only be one winner.
Having suffered a number of blows in the first set, Shapovalov put up a strong fight in the second. Both players delivered some big winners, but youthful nerves were also in evidence. Auger-Aliassime managed to make use of his explosiveness to win a tiebreak he was largely untroubled in, which would have been a relief to him having struggled in the games leading up to it.
As well as deciding who would play Nadal in his opener, Sunday in the men’s main draw produced the elimination of Nick Kyrgios. The Australian world number 34 was outplayed by Jan-Lennard Struff, number 48, in the Arantxa Sánchez Vicario Stadium, losing 7-6 (7), 6-4.