When we first started writing about Canadian tennis players Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, they were teenagers full of promise. That was back in 2017, when the young pair were best friends who were scoring surprising upsets and making tennis experts imagine, "What if..."
What if these two really are that good?
Five years later, they are still great pals. And they are two of the best players in their sport. That was confirmed last summer, when they both reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon (Denis actually made it to the semifinals then!). And now, they're doing it again at the Australian Open.
The Felix and Denis Show is back in the quarterfinals of a grand slam!
Grand slam? Isn't that baseball?
Just to get everyone up to speed ...
In tennis, 'grand slam' is a nickname given to one of the sport's four biggest, most important tournaments. The Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. These events not only have the largest number of players, they are worth the most points when you win a match. And the winners get the most prize money, too.
In addition, the male players must win three out of five sets to win a match, rather than the usual two out of three. This means that some matches can take over three or four hours!
All of these factors add to up to make grand slam success the toughest challenges in tennis!
Now let's get back to these two awesome Canucks! To reach his quarterfinal, Denis Shapovalov has made it through some long, tough matches. But surprisingly, his quickest, most dominant win was against his toughest opponent: the world's number three ranked player, Alexander Zverev of Germany.
On a beautiful Saturday in Melbourne, he steamrolled Zverev 6–3, 7–6, 6–3. They say you always want to have your best matches against the best players, and in Denis' case, he did just that!
He'll need to keep it up, too, because his quarterfinal opponent this evening is none other than Rafael Nadal, one of the greatest tennis players of all time! Interestingly, Denis has history with Rafa—his first breakthrough win came over him in Montreal in 2017!
Meanwhile, Felix has himself faced some pretty heavy opposition, including a tough opening round match that required a big comeback against Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori. But it was his last match where he impressed the most. On Sunday, he beat Croatia's Marin Cilic, a six-foot-six veteran who has won the US Open and reached the Australian Open finals in 2018.
Felix lost the first set to Cilic, and barely won the second set in a tiebreaker. But after that, he claimed the final two sets to win 2–6, 7–6, 6–2, 7–6. For his quarterfinal on Tuesday night, he must face the best player remaining in the draw: world number 2, Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
Medvedev is quick, smart, and powerful, with long arms that seem to get to everything opponents throw at him. He also beat Felix when they last played at a grand slam—the 2021 US Open.
Can Felix flip the script and get revenge? Can Denis repeat 2017 and stop Nadal? Will these two best friends actually meet in the final?
We'll be watching closely to find out!