By Mike McIntyre
Canadian tennis fans have plenty of reason to get excited after 17 year old Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated World No. 18 Lucas Pouille of France on Centre Court at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Tuesday. The youngster showed no signs of nerves as he won the match 6-3, 6-4 for his first career Masters 1000 level victory. Aside from the four Grand Slams, this is the biggest stage for tennis players on the ATP World Tour and Auger-Aliassime looks like is ready to have his name added to the NextGen list of young players to keep an eye on moving forward.
While Canadian doubles legend Daniel Nestor has had enormous success over the years, Canada was never known as a tennis power house. That is beginning to change with the constant threat that Milos Raonic presents along with 19 year old Denis Shapovalov - and now Auger-Aliassime as well. The future with these three is bright indeed and in time should make the nation one to watch at the international level in Davis Cup competition.
Auger-Aliassime has been working his way up the rankings this year mostly at the Challenger level. He recently completed a stretch that saw him play 15 straight tournaments on clay but made the transition quite smoothly today onto hard courts. His ranking is already 133rd in the world making him the youngest inside the top 200 in the world rankings.
Regardless of what comes next this week for the talented youngster, he has served notice that he is comfortable playing on this stage. His second round match will be against Daniil Medvedev of Russia, who at 22 years of age is ranked 68th in the world and considered a dangerous opponent. The Russian defeated 13th seed Jack Sock in the opening round, so both he and Auger-Aliassime have achieved higher than their rankings would have initially suggested. A likely third round encounter against No. 2 seed Sascha Zverev would await the winner.
For now Auger-Aliassime can be more than satisfied with how he handled himself today and how he has instantly added himself to the dangerous mix of players we can boast of. The secret is out folks - Canada is one to watch on the ATP World Tour.