Canadian tennis prospect Auger-Aliassime chasing pal Shapovalov up ATP rankings

While Denis Shapovalov climbs the ATP rankings, another Canadian is hot on his tail.

Felix Auger-Aliassime’s victory in a Challenger tournament in Seville, Spain last week moved the 17-year-old into the world’s top 200 at No. 168 on Monday, only a month after the 18-year-old Shapovalov cracked the top 100 with his run to the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Auger-Aliassime, from Montreal, became the youngest player to reach the top 200 since Rafael Nadal in 2002. And his progress is well ahead of the No. 245 ranking that Shapovalov held as a 17-year-old last September.

But Auger-Aliassime is less interested in one-upping his good friend as he is in improving his game.

“We both have different styles, different careers,” Auger-Aliassime said on a conference call. “We’ve faced different challenges.

“Even though we’re really good friends, what the relationship does is we push each other. He motivates me to become a better player and I think I do the same for him. It’s a healthy rivalry. He’s a really good friend of mine, so there’s not anything other than that.”

Shapovalov followed his Rogers Cup performance by qualifying for the U.S. Open main draw and then reaching the round of 16. His new ranking is a career-high No. 51.

The left-hander from Richmond Hill, Ont., is the youngest player currently in the top 100.

Together, Shapvalov and the righty Auger-Aliassime give Canada two of the hottest prospects in men’s tennis. They won the U.S. Open junior doubles title as a team in 2015, the same year they helped give Canada its first junior Davis Cup title.

“We’re good friends outside of tennis, but obviously we’re competitors,” said Auger-Aliassime. “We’re both really hard workers.

“It just pushes us to be better players, and we want to bring Canadian tennis to another level. If we could play in the Davis Cup on the same team that would be awesome. But obviously it’s great to be part of this history with this guy.”

The six-foot-three Auger-Aliassime missed the Rogers Cup with a wrist injury. He returned for the U.S. Open, where he lost a close match in the second round of qualifying to Ukrainian veteran Sergiy Stakhovsky.

After that, he headed to Europe for clay-court events. In Seville, he beat crowd favourite Inigo Cervantes in a three-set final.

It was his second Challenger-level win of the season after taking a tournament in Lyon, France in June. He became the second-youngest player to win more than one Challenger in a year after Frenchman Richard Gasquet in 2002.

Auger-Aliassime is the fourth-youngest player to break into the top 200 in the last 20 years after Gasquet, Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt, who all did it at 16. Auger-Aliassime turned 17 on Aug. 8.

This week he is at a Challenger event in Banja Luka, Bosnia, where he is to face Blaz Rola of Slovenia on Tuesday.

The young Canadian has already reset his objectives for the year.

“I kind of fixed 250 or closer to 200, but now that I’ve passed through that, now that I’m close to the top 150, maybe if I could conclude the year in the top 150 that would be a good goal,” he said.

Just Posted

Tsunami warning for B.C.’s coast is cancelled after Alaska quake

VANCOUVER — A tsunami warning issued for coastal British Columbia was cancelled… Continue reading

Sewage spill shuts beaches along California’s Central Coast

MONTEREY, Calif. — Nearly 5 million gallons of sewage spilled into the… Continue reading

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

TORONTO — A Toronto producer who worked on “The Shape of Water”… Continue reading

US, others launch new tool to punish chemical weapons users

PARIS — The United States and 28 other countries are launching a… Continue reading

Fewer than half of Canadians hold optimistic, open view of the world: poll

OTTAWA — Canada’s reputation as a nation with an open and optimistic… Continue reading

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month