Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov showing Canadian X factor

 - Alex Sharp

The Canadian youngsters have both reached a maiden Wimbledon quarter-final down at the All England Club.

Félix Auger-Aliassime Wimbledon 2021©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Over in Madrid in 2015 an exuberant team Canada won the Junior Davis Cup.

Within that squad were Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, who are now just three matches away from lifting the Wimbledon title.

The patriotic duo’s success at SW19 means multiple Canadian men have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time. 

Shapovalov, first in major play at Wimbledon 2017, played a “flawless” match to swat aside No.8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets.

Over to Auger-Aliassime, the 20-year-old held his nerve 6-4, 7-6(6), 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 to escape past world No.6 Alexander Zverev

“It's great for me personally. You're fighting of course for yourself to win, for your team,” stated Auger-Aliassime, featuring in just his ninth Grand Slam.

“In the back of your mind you also have everybody back home. The tons of message I receive after from people that have helped me to get where I am today.  It means a lot.

“For me to give this back to them is also great.  It feels really good.  It's teamwork.  The country's behind us.  My city is behind me.  It's really good to do that, to have this much support.

“A great day for us Canadians and hopefully it keeps going.”

For Auger-Aliassime, his turbulent four-hour tussle with Zverev was only his second career five-set match, having relinquished a two set advantage to Aslan Karatsev earlier this campaign at the Australian Open.

That painful defeat crossed his mind, but it’s time for the world No.19 to toast a brilliant breakout at Wimbledon thus far. 

“It’s a dream come true, it’s unbelievable. You dream of moments likes this as a kid,” stated the humble teenager, falling to his knees in celebration. “I’m a normal guy from Montreal, Canada. Here I am. No.1 Court, packed, Wimbledon. Surely the best victory of my life.

“I think my celebration was very honest and genuine.  It's a big milestone for me in my young career.”

Shapovalov advanced to this stage at the US Open last fall and has clicked back into devastating form at Wimbledon, with hot shots painting the court. 

“Obviously Roberto is a very, very tough player to play against.  To beat him straight sets at a tournament like this, it backs up my level from Andy (Murray)'s match.  For sure I'm just happy that I feel like I'm improving every single match,” declared the 22-year-old, primed to take on No.25 seed Karen Khachanov next. “It's been really, really fun out there.  I feel like everything's kind of working for me.”

Shapovalov won the junior title at SW19 in 2016, then took just one match victory in his three previous visits in the men’s draw. The No.10 seed is biting back at his doubters this fortnight.

“I think proving people wrong is what has made me who I am today. I was a kid who grew up without the help of a foundation, on my own with my parents, literally spending every dollar that they make from work into my career,” explained the driven world No.12. “Always having to prove myself, always not being good enough, not being chosen to teams and places.  It's always been that for me. For sure it's always something I come back to just inspire me.”

Next up for Auger-Aliassime is a battle with close friend and in-form Queen’s Club champion Matteo Berrettini.

“Both our girlfriends are cousins, so it just happens that we spend a lot of time together. He's one of my best friends on the tour. He's really a great guy, great person,” added the recent Halle finalist, who has been watching the Euro 2020 matches with the Italian.

“I think it's good to get to play each other. We both have had a great tournament so far. We'll try to leave it all out there, and it's going to be good.”

Two explosive Canadian talents, a few box office names absent from the last eight, could it be their time to steal the limelight?

“Grass is always a little bit different, I just feel like players that feel good on this surface can have a breakthrough.  Also, you have the big champions – Novak (Djokovic) and Roger (Federer) - the most experienced that are still the favourites for the title,” mused the world No.19, sensing a glorious opportunity.

“Also, with Rafa (Nadal) and Domi (Thiem) missing, as well, sometimes it can open up a draw a little bit for some players.  As players on the tour, you try to take every chance you can get.  Of course, you don't always do.  But you fight for it. It's good to see some new faces in the quarter-finals.  At least I'm happy to be part of it.”