Tennis

Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime set to clash in Stockholm Open semifinals


Canadian tennis is once again taking center stage at the Stockholm Open.

In Oct. 2019, Denis Shapovalov won his first and only ATP Tour title at the Stockholm Open, defeating Filip Krajinović in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. Flash forward two years and the Canadian in his title defence is into the semifinals, after surviving against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech in three sets 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

This was Shapovalov’s fifth win in 22 matches after losing the first set. The 22-year-old relied on an efficient serve to win the next two sets, where he posted 14 aces and converted 75 per cent of his first serves.

“I remember playing a lot of good tennis. It was an amazing week, and honestly Stockholm is a very special place for me where I won my first title. I always love coming back here,” Shapovalov said in a post-match interview.

Facing Shapovalov is fellow Canadian and good friend Felix Auger-Aliassime. After defeating Krajinović (Shapovalov’s 2019 Stockholm Open final opponent) in the round of 16, Auger-Aliassime conquered Botic van de Zandschulp in straight sets 6-4, 6-3. Auger-Aliassime has yet to drop a set this tournament and like Shapovalov, is serving efficiently, with 11 aces and an 82 per cent first serve winning percentage. The Montreal, Que., native’s victory over the surprise US Open Round of 16 participant van de Zandschulp marks Auger-Aliassime’s 100th career ATP Tour match win.

“Being able to win 100 matches in my career is special, so hopefully there are more milestones in the years to come,” Auger-Aliassime said, according to ATPTour.com.

The semifinal featuring Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime will be their sixth career ATP Tour match against one another. Leading the head-to-head 3-2 is Auger-Aliassime, which includes two victories in 2021 at the Australian Open and in Barcelona. However, Shapovalov has two hard-court victories against Auger-Aliassime in his career, both of them taking place at the US Open.

In the other Stockholm Open semifinal are two Americans, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe. After his win, Shapovalov praised his other semifinalists and how far they’ve progressed in the sport from their junior days.

“The four of us know each other so well from juniors,” Shapovalov said. “It’s amazing to see the young generation coming up.”

Friday’s semifinal once again demonstrates the success of Canadian tennis in 2021 with Leylah Fernandez reaching the US Open final and Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov each becoming Grand Slam semifinalists for the first time in their careers at the US Open and Wimbledon respectively.

These results are becoming more prevalent. And on Friday, Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov will clash for a spot in the Stockholm Open final, looking to add to an already banner year for tennis in Canada.





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