Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil returns a shot to Roberto Bautista Agut, of Spain, during the third round of the US Open tennis championships, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Okanagan athlete part of Canadian tennis history

Stunning five-set upset of 8th seed propels Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil into the fourth round at US Open

Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil helped make Canadian tennis history Saturday at the US Open in New York.

Pospisil upset No. 8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Argentina 7-5, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the third round to join fellow Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round.

It’s the first time ever three Canadians have made it to the fourth round in singles play in a Grand Slam tournament.

Pospisil, fresh off an upset over countryman Milos Raonic in the second round, needed less than four hours to eliminate Bautista Agut.

Though much of the first set was played evenly between the two contrasting styles of tennis, Pospisil’s aggressive, net-attacking brand succeeded in giving him the break he needed in the final game of the set, setting him up for an early lead in the match.

Bautista Agut, however, is known to be one of the most consistent players on tour from the baseline and is oft overlooked as a serious contender at the biggest tournaments. He showed his class as a player in the next two sets, pummelling metronomic defensive shots from the back of the court to win the next two sets and put Pospisil on the brink of elimination.

Staring defeat in the face in the fourth set, Pospisil – following a quick visit from the trainer mid-way through the set – somehow managed to find a new gear. Serving at 3-3, the 30-year-old would win six of the next seven games, breaking serve early in the fifth with a lusciously delicate forehand drop-shot – and then once again at 4-2 in the final set with a stunning angled volley winner.

With ease, Pospisil served out the set, pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career at a Grand Slam and reached the final 16 at the US Open for the first time.

He’ll face Australian No. 21 seed Alex de Minaur for a place in the quarter-finals.

Later in the day, Auger-Aliassime took to the court against former junior rival Corentin Moutet, a player (and friend) that the Canadian has been playing since he was nine years old.

The match was a completely one-sided affair. Auger-Aliassime, feeling no hangover from his dominant win over Andy Murray in the second round, was at his aggressive best, dictating play against the southpaw Frenchman with his forehand and capitalizing on some uncharacteristic errors from Moutet throughout the first two sets, en route to a 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 victory.

Shapovalov rallied Friday night to beat Taylor Fritz in his third-round match.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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