Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime celebrates after defeating compatriot Denis Shapovalov in their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Andy Brownbill

Canada’s Auger-Aliassime beats Shapovalov, Raonic also through to round of 16

MELBOURNE, Australia — Felix Auger-Aliassime beat Denis Shapovalov in an all-Canadian clash in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday, while Milos Raonic may have caught a break after securing his ticket to the round of 16.

The 20th-seeded Auger-Aliassime beat No. 11 seed Shapovalov 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 in the first Grand Slam meeting between two Canadian men in the third round or later.

Meanwhile, the 14th-seeded Raonic beat Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 and then watched his next opponent, top seed Novak Djokovic, suffer an injury, putting his status in doubt for the fourth round.

Djokovic said he tore a muscle during a fall in his five-set victory over American Taylor Fritz and might need to pull out of the tournament.

“I know it’s a tear, definitely, of the muscle. So I don’t know if I’ll manage to recover from that in less than two days. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m going to step out onto the court or not,” said Djokovic, who is 11-0 against Raonic.

The Shapovalov-Auger-Aliassime match was just the fifth Grand Slam meeting between two Canadian men in the Open Era.

“I was flawless and I played an amazing match,” said Auger-Aliassime, a Montrealer. “Of course, it’s a shame we have to play each other.

“Hopefully in the future we’ll meet later in the tournament but I can just be happy about my performance tonight.”

Auger-Aliassime is now 2-2 lifetime at the top level against Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont.

The 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime has tied a career best by reaching the round of 16 at a Grand Slam. He also advanced to the fourth round at last year’s U.S. Open.

Longtime friends, Auger-Aliassime first met Shapovalov more than a decade ago at a national tennis camp in Toronto when both were under 10 years old. Auger-Aliassime is one year younger than Shapovalov.

Shapovalov stayed at Auger-Aliassime’s house for part of his improbable run to the semifinals at the Rogers Cup in 2017.

“It’s never easy to play Denis,” said Auger-Aliassime on the court after the match. “We played for the first time when we were nine and 10 so we go back a long time.

“He’s beaten me pretty bad a couple of times and tonight went my way.”

Shapovalov gave credit to Auger-Aliassime, who was far more effective with his first serve.

Auger-Aliassime won 77 per cent of points when he got his first serve in, 16 per cent better than Shapovalov.

“He was putting a lot of returns in the court so overall he was just playing really solid,” Shapovalov said. “It was really impressive to see, but, you know, I expected it. He’s been in great form, great shape, you know, playing great matches. For me, it was no surprise.”

Auger-Aliassime will face Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev in the round of 16.

Karatsev upset No. 8 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in three sets earlier Friday.

“In my perspective he’s not a Russian qualifier now. He’s more a Russian playing in the round of 16. It’s a tough task,” Auger-Aliassime said.

“No matches are easy. We saw what he was able to do today against Diego, which is a great player and a tough opponent to beat.”

Auger-Aliassime and Karatsev have split their two career matches.

Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., is in the round of 16 in Australia for the eighth time after winning 84 per cent of points on first serve against Fucsovics.

“It’s the conditions here, especially when it’s warmer,” he said of his Melbourne success. “The balls are a bit more lively and quicker through the courts.

“I think for me a big part of it is also the timing, when this tournament falls beginning of the year. Obviously, I have had struggles with injuries through later parts of the season, but we get to work our way into the Australian Open for many weeks as part of the off-season without any immediate pressure of rushing to the next tournament … I think I’m able to come here healthier, fitter and fresher. I think that works well alongside with the conditions.

In women’s doubles, the sixth-seeded team of Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa and Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the U.S., lost to Americans Coco Gauff and Caty McNally 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.

Leylah Annie Fernandez of Laval, Que., and Heather Watson of Great Britain beat Australians Olivia Gadecki and Belinda Woolcock 7-5, 6-2 in another second-round match, while Toronto’s Sharon Fichman and Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos topped Kristyna Pliskova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-3.

Fernandez and Fichman’s teams will now face each other in the third round of the women’s doubles tournament.

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