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Canadian Men Are Cooking In “Cincinnati,” Mixed Bag For American Women • New York Tennis

Felix Auger-Aliassime, the No. 15 seed, celebrates after beating Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round.

By Ricky Dimon

The Western & Southern Open is slightly closer to Canada now that it has moved from Cincinnati to New York for the 2020 version. It might as well have been all the way north of the border on Saturday.

Canadian men compiled a 3-0 record as main-draw action began at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and they did not even lose a single set.

Felix Auger-Aliassime got the day started with a 6-4, 6-1 rout of Nikoloz Basilashvili. The 20-year-old’s match concluded only seconds before Jan-Lennard Struff put the finishing touches on a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Alex de Minaur. That made Auger-Aliassime the first men’s winner since the coronavirus pandemic halted tennis back in early March.

“I am the first winner of 2020 part two, post COVID,” the world No. 20 commented. “I am happy to be playing again and to get a win. I felt really good. Even though I had some nerves, starting again in different conditions than we are used to, I did the work in the last month and I felt like I had the resources in me to get the win today.”

Fellow Canadians Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov were quick to follow suit. Raonic out-served Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-4, while Shapovalov sailed past Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-3.

It was not entirely smooth sailing for American women on Saturday. The biggest disappointment was Venus Williams, even though she played a quality match and has nothing to be ashamed about. The 40-year-old battled No. 16 seed Dayana Yastremska for two hours and 36 minutes before finally falling 5-7, 6-2, 7-5. Yastremska fought off three break points at 6-5 in the third set to avoid a decisive tiebreaker.

Venus Williams reacts during her match against Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine.

“It was a good match,” Williams assured. “You know, first round is always the challenge, trying to get your rhythm. She played well; just was a little better in the end on the points.”

The USA women advancing were Amanda Anisimova and Bernarda Pera. Anisimova scored an impressive 6-3, 6-3 win over compatriot Alison Riske.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.