Cramps. Wrist issue trepidation. Montreal teenager.
Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil nearly overcame them all Tuesday in the opening round of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Montreal, but fell 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 (3) in a third-set tiebreaker to hometown favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime in front of a capacity Centre Court crowd of 12,051 at Stade IGA.
The match lasted two hours and 33 minutes. It was Auger-Aliassime’s second straight win over Pospisil, having beaten his fellow Canuck in the opening round of Wimbledon on Canada Day, July 1.
Pospisil told Tennis Canada writer Tom Tebbutt afterward he hadn’t hit a backhand in three weeks leading up to Tuesday’s match due to a left-wrist injury, and was “afraid to hit the ball” in the first set.
Pospisil, in only his second ATP Tour-level match since back surgery in January, turned things up a notch in the second set. He won the tiebreak with good serving and when one of Auger-Aliassime’s strings broke on a point.
In the third set, Pospisil began to exhibit symptoms of being bothered by cramps and revealed afterward he had cramping in his calf, quads, wrist and upper hamstring, and had stomach issues as well.
In the tiebreak that decided the match, the players traded early mini-breaks before a passing shot by Auger-Aliassime gave him the separation he needed to go on and win it 7-3.
“He played a good breaker at the end, to be honest,” said Pospisil to Tebbutt. “I mean physically I could have been better. I think he was better physically than me – that’s for sure. That definitely made a difference at the end of the match. I mean, he also stepped up, played a little bit more aggressive that last breaker – that last five minutes of the match.”
Pospisil is now off to Vancouver to play in the VanOpen Challenger at the Hollyburn Country Club next week.