Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime had the worst luck, in his first two appearances in the US Open main draw.
Both times, he had to face his countryman and good pal Denis Shapovalov.
Shapovalov said earlier this week that he had even been joking with his pal that there was no point in even looking at the draw – it was a slam-dunk the would play each other.
But the draw gods were a little kinder to Auger-Aliassime this time around. He drew Thiago Monteiro, a 26-year-old Brazilian who, like him, hadn’t yet won a match in the US Open main draw.
After three failed attempts at qualifying, Monteiro was straight into the main draw last year, but lost to Bradley Klahn.
The clash between the two aspirants was a surprisingly brutal slog – nearly four hours for four sets. But Auger-Aliassime prevailed 6-3, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (6).
Battling himself, Hawkeye and his opponent
Auger-Aliassime definitely left his zen at the Long Island Marriott when he arrived for this match. He was quite agitated at times – including with the Hawkeye Live automated line-calling system.
Of course, with that system, there not only are no challenges, but there isn’t even a human being with whom you can try to plead your case in vain.
Avoiding a five-setter
There were certainly moments when this one looked like it was going to go the distance.
And neither Auger-Aliassime nor Monteiro had ever been there. In fact, only once in their careers (and Monteiro has been a pro since 2011, when Auger-Aliassime was turning 11) had they even gone past three sets in a match.
For both, it came this year at the Australian Open.
Monteiro lost – in four tiebreaks – to American John Isner. Auger-Aliassime lost to (qualifier!) Ernests Gulbis in four sets.
Here’s what the Canadian had to say during his virtual press conference (video courtesy USTA).
Murray up next
It’s not as though Auger-Aliassime’s next opponent had much of an edge on him in terms of recovery time.
He’ll play 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray – and his metal hip – on Wednesday.
Murray came back from a two-sets-to-none deficit against Yoshihito Nishioka to win in five, in more than 4 1/2 hours. The third and fourt sets Murray won came in tight tiebreakers.
He definitely gave that hip a workout.
Here’s a bit of what he said after the match.
The two will be meeting for the first time.