March 10, 2018 / 10:03 AM / a year ago

Tennis - Teenager Auger-Aliassime beats Pospisil in all-Canada battle

(Reuters) - Teenage qualifier Felix Auger-Aliassime scored a superb 6-2 7-6(4) first-round victory over fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California on Friday.

Jul 26, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada plays a shot in doubles play with partner Denis Shapovalov of Canada against Bernard Tomic of Australia and Viktor Troicki of Serbia on day two of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

The 17-year-old displayed lightning-quick footwork in his bright pink shoes, and delighted the packed crowd with his formidable serve and powerful forehand.

He pounded down 11 aces and saved all three break points he faced en route to his first career victory.

“To come here, beat one of my growing idols, Vasek, it felt kind of surreal at first,” Montreal-born Auger-Aliassime told Tennis Channel.

“All the emotions kicked in. I was trying to stay calm the whole second set, the whole tiebreak. After I let everything go. It felt great.”

Auger-Aliassime, the youngest player in the men’s draw and who shares a birthday with Roger Federer (Aug. 8), will face another Canadian in the second round, 32nd seed Milos Raonic.

“It’s quite funny to see these guys in my draw,” he said.

“I used to watch these guys on TV growing up, and now to stand in front of them, it’s crazy, but I guess that’s where my level is at right now and I’m just enjoying it.”

Another teenager enjoying the winning feeling on Friday was 19-year-old Australian wild card Alex de Minaur, who beat 56th-ranked German Jan-Lennard Struff 3-6 7-6(3) 7-6(5).

De Minaur, ranked 141st, started the year by making the final of the Sydney International, where he lost to Daniil Medvedev. He also took Alexander Zverev to five sets before losing a deciding tiebreak in a Davis Cup tie against Germany in early February.

His Davis Cup team mate Nick Kyrgios withdrew on Friday ahead of his first match, citing an on-going right elbow injury.

Kyrgios, who has not played since the Davis Cup tie, was scheduled to play Medvedev on Saturday but has been replaced by lucky loser Matteo Berrettini.

In other matches, wild card Ernesto Escobedo beat fellow American Frances Tiafoe 7-5 6-3, while lucky loser Dudi Sela of Israel edged German Peter Gojowczyk 6-4 6-4.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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