It was a mixed bag for Canadians at the National Bank Open in Toronto and Montreal on Tuesday, as Leylah Fernandez and Gabriel Diallo — in his first career ATP Tour triumph — advanced to the second round while Bianca Andreescu and Felix Auger-Aliassime were each eliminated in consecutive sets.
Auger-Aliassime lost 6-4, 6-4 to Australia’s Max Purcell. The Montreal native — the 10th seed in the tournament and world No. 12 — had five aces, five double faults and went without a single break point opportunity.
“I was more confident today, more positive coming into the match,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I had higher expectations in terms of the result.”
“It’s disappointing,” he added. “But I’m training well, of course I’m feeling good physically. So I try to think it’s just a matter of time.
“You have to win the first match and I haven’t been able to do that the last two weeks. But I’m confident that once I’ll get a first win, then I can go further in the draw.”
Purcell, who entered the tournament as a qualifier, had eight aces to just one double fault. He also broke on two of his four chances.
The Aussie defeated Canadians Peter Polansky and Brayden Schnur — both in consecutive sets — to make it into the main draw.
Purcell will next face Great Britain’s Andy Murray, who defeated Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego earlier Tuesday.
Auger-Aliassime, who turned 23 years old on Tuesday, hasn’t earned consecutive wins since reaching the Indian Wells quarterfinals in March.
After winning his first four career ATP Tour titles in 2022, Auger-Aliassime has endured struggles on the court this year while dealing with knee pain in recent months.
Purcell jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead in the opening set, winning the last game behind one of his three early aces.
Auger-Aliassime then seemed to find his footing and trimmed the errors, winning two of the next three games.
But Purcell’s fifth ace of the set closed a run of four consecutive points in the final game and won him the set.
After taking the opening game of the second set, Auger-Aliassime dropped the next three.
Down 4-2 and the crowd cheering him on in hopes of a comeback, Auger-Aliassime forced a deuce with a cross-court forehand winner. After giving up the advantage, the Canadian took it back with an ace followed by an error from Evans.
To the delight of the Sobeys Stadium crowd, he fired another ace to make it a one-game set.
After giving up the next game on an error, Auger-Aliassime quickly came back to make it a 5-4 set with yet another ace.
With Purcell serving on match point, Auger-Aliassime hit a high return that went out of bounds to end the match.
Diallo, meanwhile, defeated Great Britain’s Dan Evans 7-6 (4), 7-5 to advance to the second round.
The Montreal native never fell behind in the match, although he went through a back and forth first set that saw him consistently have to keep Evans at bay. He picked up set point on an Evans double fault.
In the second set, the 21-year-old Diallo jumped out to a 3-1, then 5-3 lead before Evans came back to tie the set each time. But Diallo closed it out winning the final two games.
Diallo will next face Australia’s Alex de Minaur in the second round. The Aussie defeated 11th-seeded Brit Cameron Norrie 7-5, 6-4 earlier Tuesday.
In first-round men’s doubles action, Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C., and partner Nicolas Mahut of France defeated Canadians Kelsey Stevenson and Benjamin Sigouin 7-5, 6-4 to advance.
The Canadian pairing of Adil Shamasdin and Polansky were also bounced, falling 6-3, 6-2 to Germany’s Tim Putz and Kevin Krawietz.