Pospisil Pops Khachanov's US Open Chances, Shapovalov Ousts Felix
Canadian Vasek Pospisil walked onto Court 12 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Tuesday evening seeking his first tour-level win of the season. And after three hours and 51 minutes, the 29-year-old left the court with an impressive victory at the US Open.
Pospisil outlasted No. 9 seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, advancing to the second round in Flushing Meadows for the fourth time and for the second consecutive year. The World No. 216, who is in the main draw with a protected ranking, struck 15 aces and crushed 53 total winners to earn his fifth Top 10 triumph (5-26).
"I played a very high level. Executed the game plan really well. That was just to be super aggressive any time I had a little bit of time. Obviously Karen hits a really big ball. When he has time on the stroke, he's extremely dangerous. Overall he's very dangerous," Pospisil said. " I just tried to really go for my forehand and tried to serve well, which I did for the most part. It was a physical match there at the end. I'm just glad I pulled through."
The key in the match was Pospisil's performance on break points both for and against him. The former World No. 25 converted four of the six break points he earned, whereas Khachanov was only able to take advantage of three of his 12 break chances.
"I've been working really hard. I did a ton of fitness before I kind of made my comeback just to make sure that I was strong. But, of course, match play is a different kind of beast," Pospisil said. "When the adrenaline goes up, it's different. But no, I've been playing matches now for the past month or so. Just super happy to get through."
Pospisil will next play American Tennys Sandgren, who rallied from two sets down to beat French star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1-6, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-5 after three hours and 55 minutes.
"Tennys is tough. He's playing great. He's very fit. He has good results at Grand Slams. Obviously he's doing something right physically. He came back from two sets today against a really good opponent, so he'll be confident," Pospisil said. "He's playing at home. I heard the atmosphere was pretty intense and loud and on his side, as I would expect. So it will be a really good challenge."
Another Canadian through to the second round is Denis Shapovalov, who eased past fellow #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 after one hour and 38 minutes.
Shapovalov maintained the form he gained by making the Winston-Salem Open semi-finals, hitting 28 winners as he won his first-round match at the US Open for the third straight year. Auger-Aliassime, the No. 18 seed, made 28 unforced errors compared to nine winners.
"I couldn't figure out really what to do. Tried to put as many balls as I could, try to be more solid, be aggressive, hit him more than he was hitting me. I was in a zone where I didn't know where to stand," Auger-Aliassime said. "He was hitting me hard, putting a lot of pressure. I just felt like I really constructed, like, two points in the match. I was just was getting hit and hit and reacting. I was always one shot late, one step late."
The lefty will try to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the fourth time when he faces Italian Marco Cecchinato or Swiss Henri Laaksonen.
Did You Know?
Pospisil defeated Khachanov, but the Russian won eight more points than the Canadian in the match (164-156).