INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The first-round match between the young guns was so in demand, even Félix Auger-Aliassime’s agent couldn’t get in the house.
People had come for Tommy Paul and Taylor Fritz right before, and stayed for Holger Rune and Ben Shelton against the return of #Shauger, Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov.
It was madness right outside the court, which was full to bursting.
They called on extra security – the big, beefy kind. Grandmothers were taking to take names and badges when the security staff wouldn’t let them in.
They had a friend saving a seat. One guy “forgot his coat’. People were offering up their firstborns.
(Kidding on that one; with the Indian Wells demographic, it would be more like their first-born great-grandchildren).
But it was pretty savage. People were NOT joking. Even the grannies.
All for a tennis match that ended 6-1, 6-3 in favour of Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov.
Here’s what it looked like.
They had a ton of support, as is always the case at Indian Wells when so many Canucks – especially from the western part of the country – head down for sun, golf, and tennis of the playing and watching kind.
Next up, they play Lucas Miedler of Austria and former Indian Wells singles champion Cameron Norrie. That rather unlikely pairing upset the Australian Open finalists, Nys and Zielinski.
Canadians on hand for the warmup, too
Hours earlier, just after 4 p.m., the fans came out in force to watch the two Canadians warm up.
There was an Expos hat. There were plenty of Canucks. There was one young lady who yelled out her declaration of love to the (taken) Auger-Aliassime.
And the best part, when Auger-Aliassime went up to where the fans were to sign some balls and take some selfies, almost everyone who was up front was a kid.
There were a few stray adults, of course. But it was the kids who got all the love from FAA and they were pretty thrilled to see him.
Here’s what that looked like.
Just like old times, really.
On Friday, Shapovalov will finally get to play singles, as the No. 25 seed takes on French lefty Ugo Humbert.
This is not a routine match by any means.
The only time they played on an outdoor hard court was in Auckland in 2020. And Humbert (who was playing a lot better than than he right now, although his form is on the come-up) beat him.
Their other matches were on clay, all won by Shapovalov but all tough grinds.
Auger-Aliassime, who will play Spanish clay-courter Pedro Martinez (who is really struggling this year), won’t kick off his singles until Saturday.
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