October 22, 2021

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Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime seeded No. 1 and No. 2 in Sofia

#Shaugur will be the top two seeds in Sofia. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

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It’s the first time in their careers, although if things break the way they hope it won’t be the last.

Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Félix Auger-Aliassime are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds at next week’s regular season ATP Tour finale in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Both have first-round byes in the 28-player draw.

Shapo and Felix laugh on the practice court before their first top-level tournament together at Indian Wells in 2018. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

It took a lot of work to get there, of course. Work meaning … a lot of withdrawals, late and otherwise.

Late withdrawals and others in Sofia

The most notable was world No. 8 Diego Schwartzman, who was chasing the eighth and final qualifying spot at the ATP Tour Finals in London. Having accomplished that on Friday in Paris, there was no need to play it, with the big event looking the following week.

Milos Raonic also decided to withdraw Friday morning. And later in the day he beat Ugo Humbert and made the Paris Masters semifinals.

Among others who withdrew late were Pablo Carreño Busta, who still had a small shot at qualifying in London but lost to Rafael Nadal in Paris Friday.

Other withdrawals: Kevin Anderson, Fabio Fognini (just out of an extended COVID-19 quarantine after testing positive in Sardinia), Karen Khachanov, Roberto Bautista Agut, Gaël Monfils, Kei Nishikori and Casper Ruud.

Aliassime
Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime before the 2016 French Open juniors. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

Pospisil also makes the main draw

So if the ultimate draw looks nothing like the original entry list (an original cutoff of No. 35 turned into No. 100), there is still a Tour title at stake.

With the withdrawals, Vasek Pospisil also graduated into the main draw.

An all-Canadian final?

How great would it be for both, and for Canadian fans, to end the season with an all-Canadian final?

Shapovalov will be chasing his second career ATP Tour title; Auger-Aliassime his well-documented maiden trophy.

The other seed in Shapovalov’s quarter is No. 5 Adrian Mannarino; he has No. 3 Alex de Minaur in his half.

Aliassime
Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime met twice in a row in the first round at the US Open, in 2018 and here in 2019. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

For Auger-Aliassime, the potential quarter-final opponent is No. 8 seed Marin Cilic. While the veteran Croat is the lowest of the potential seeds Auger-Aliassime could have faced, he’s also the player who inflicted a first-set bagel on Auger-Aliassime this week in Paris, and beat him in three sets in the first round.

The potential semifinal opponent would be Jan-Lennard Struff, seeded No. 4. Struff also will be Pospisil’s second-round opponent, if he gets past a qualifier in the first round.

(Notably, Gilles Simon decided to enter the tournament late; he’s the No. 1 seed in the qualifying).

Aliassime
At the 2016 Wimbledon juniors, where they lost in the doubles final (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)