06:16 PM GMT January 21, 2020
World No. 22 Felix Auger-Aliassime followed fellow Canadian #NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov out of the Australian Open first round after a shock four-set loss to veteran Latvian Ernests Gulbis Tuesday at Melbourne Park.
The 19-year-old has had a mixed start to the season after a breakout 2019, when he climbed to a career-high of No. 17 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Today he made 44 unforced errors, including seven double faults, in a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 loss to the 31-year-old World No. 256, who last won a tour-level match at Los Cabos in late July 2019.
Auger-Aliassime won just one of four matches at ATP Cup but last week produced some of his best tennis en route to the semi-finals of the Adelaide International, where he pushed eventual champion Andrey Rublev to 6-4 in the third.
On Monday, World No. 13 Shapovalov suffered a four-set loss to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.
Despite a second consecutive opening-round loss at a major, the 6' 4" right-hander said that he was disappointed, but not alarmed.
“Every time you come to Australia the main goal is the Aussie Open, so it’s not good," Auger-Aliassime said. "That’s what the results show. But at the same time I am staying calm and positive because I feel I am not far from playing well and winning matches.
“My game was really coming along well in Adelaide and I lost a close one there… I don’t want to lose too much belief over the results of these first few tournaments. I’ll keep my head up and keep doing what I’m doing well and we’ll see what happens next.”
Despite starting the year with a modest 3-5 win-loss record, Auger-Aliassime says that he remains positive about the season ahead. “Of course. The season is just starting. This is obviously disappointing and I haven’t swallowed this yet. It’s tough to go out this early.
“I felt like my game was coming along well. I felt like I was playing well, a lot different to the past US Open. It’s night and day. I have to talk with my coaches to look in detail at what happened. But I think I’m not far away from playing well.”
Auger-Aliassime boasted a 33-23 match record in 2019. But his two match wins at Wimbledon remain his only victories at Grand Slam level in four appearances at the majors.
Countryman Vasek Pospisil also exited Tuesday, beaten by 40-year-old Croatian Ivo Karlovic 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5.
In better news for Canadian fans on Tuesday, Milos Raonic completed his match that was halted by rain on Monday, defeating Italian World No. 150 Lorenzo Giustino 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 after dropping just four points on his first serve.