Hey there, Happy April Fools Day!
With that out of the way, today's story is no joke. Though to a serious Canadian tennis fan, this whole last month could've appeared as one big gotcha prank. Folks, Canadian kids are officially the talk of the tennis world.
First came Bianca Andreescu's win at the women's tour's fifth biggest tournament, Indian Wells. At the next big tournament—this time in Miami—she followed up that dramatic victory with three straight wins before finally succumbing to a shoulder injury (when you play twice as much tennis as most of your opponents, that stuff can happen). So that was it for Canada, right?
Nope. Two names: Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov.
Denis doubles down
Felix and Denis doubled down on young Canadian dominance by both reaching the semifinals on the men's side of the tournament. It was the first time two Canadians have been in the semis of this big of a tournament since Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil did it in Montreal in 2013. The big difference? Denis and Felix are both still so young.
Mind you, Denis isn't exactly brand new to tennis fans. The 19 year-old made a huge splash two summers ago by beating then-Number 1 player Rafael Nadal in Montreal. Since then, he's been slowly and steadily improving. This was his best result since then. He beat fellow up-and-comer Frances Tiafoe and Top 10 player Stefanos Tsitsipas on the way to the semis.
Then there's Felix.
And another star is born!
At just 18, he's been flying through the lower professional ranks (known as Challengers and Futures tournaments) at impressive speed. In fact, when you look at his achievements so far, he's right alongside names like Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic (a.k.a. three of the greatest players of all time). People have been saying for years that him breaking out was only a matter of time. Even us!
And now, it's really happening. In Miami, Felix's play was incredible. A lot of young tennis players succeed by having one or two great abilities, or "weapons", that cover for their weaknesses. For a young Raonic, his giant serve covered for his weak returning. Then as players get older, they learn to do more things well, which makes them tougher to beat.
But experts are noticing that Felix already has a super well-rounded style. In other words, his abilities have the balance of a 26 year-old player. That's huge!
So, as you may be able to figure, both Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime lost their semifinals. Denis was dismissed fairly quickly by Federer, who went on to win the whole tournament. But when you consider that Roger is the greatest of all time, well... there's no shame in a loss like that.
Felix, on the other hand, was very disappointed in his semifinal loss to American John Isner. Now Isner was last year's Miami champion. The 6 foot 10 inch giant also has the most blistering serve going. So why the frustration?
Because Felix had the upper hand all match. How did he lose then?
“For sure, nerves. It's like I caught a virus or something," he said at a press conference after the match.
Twice, all he had to do was stay calm. Instead, he collapsed and let Isner back in. This is sad in the moment. But, as learning experiences go, you can't ask for more.
At just 18 and 19 years old, Felix and Denis are already doing things that almost no Canadian male tennis player has done. When you combine them with Bianca's achievements, you see why it's not just Canada that is excited about these three. Tennis fans around the world are, too!