Indian Wells| Teenagers come to the fore
Teenage qualifier Felix Auger-Aliassime scored a superb 6-2 7-6(4) first-round victory over fellow Canadian veteran Vasek Pospisil at the first Masters 1000 event of the season when the men’s programme got under way on the second day of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
To come here, beat one of my growing idols, Vasek, it felt kind of surreal at first Felix Auger-Aliassime
The 17-year-old’s speed about the court as well as his powerful serve and forehand, drew admiration from the spectators as he stormed through blasting 11 aces and saving three break points.
“To come here, beat one of my growing idols, Vasek, it felt kind of surreal at first,” Montreal-born Auger-Aliassime told Tennis Channel.
“All the emotions kicked in. I was trying to stay calm the whole second set, the whole tiebreak. After I let everything go. It felt great.”
Auger-Aliassime, the youngest player in the men’s draw and who shares a birthday with Roger Federer (Aug. 8), will face another Canadian in the second round, 32nd seed Milos Raonic.
“It’s quite funny to see these guys in my draw,” he said. “I used to watch these guys on TV growing up, and now to stand in front of them, it’s crazy, but I guess that’s where my level is at right now and I’m just enjoying it.”
Another teenager enjoying the winning feeling was 19-year-old Australian wild card Alex de Minaur, who beat 56th-ranked German Jan-Lennard Struff 3-6 7-6(3) 7-6(5).
De Minaur, ranked 141st, started the year by making the final of the Sydney International, where he lost to Daniil Medvedev. He also took Alexander Zverev to five sets before losing a deciding tiebreak in a Davis Cup tie against Germany in early February.
But his Davis Cup team mate Nick Kyrgios withdrew on Friday ahead of his first match, citing an on-going right elbow injury.
In other matches, wild card Ernesto Escobedo beat fellow American Frances Tiafoe, the Delray Beach champion, 7-5 6-3, while lucky loser Dudi Sela of Israel edged German Peter Gojowczyk 6-4 6-4.