No Canada: Auger-Aliassime, Raonic eliminated at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — All Canadian singles players are out of the Australian Open after Felix Auger-Aliassime and Milos Raonic suffered losses in the round of 16 on Sunday.

The 20th-seeded Auger-Aliassime blew a two-set lead in losing 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 3-6, 4-6 to Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev, while the 14th-seeded Raonic lost 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

The 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime, from Montreal, missed a great chance to advance to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.

Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., fell to 0-12 for his career against Djokovic.

Djokovic said he tore a muscle after falling in his previous match, a five-set victory over Taylor Fritz. He then said he wasn't sure if he could play against Raonic, but he managed to overcome any problems to win his 300th career Grand Slam match.

As a result, none of the seven Canadian singles players will play in the quarterfinals.

"It's a shame," Auger-Aliassime said. "It's really a shame that I couldn't get through today. It's difficult to swallow but it's tennis. That's how it is. That's life."

Karatsev, ranked 114th in the world, upset No. 8 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina to reach the fourth round of the tournament. Following his victory over the Canadian, Karatsev will face Belarus's Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals. Dimitrov shut down Austria's Dominic Thiem in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-0, in their fourth-round match.

"He played good," Auger-Aliassime said of Karatsev. "Of course, I wish I could've served better. But, I can't just snap my fingers and it just happens. I got to be just a better player overall to overcome these situations."

Auger-Aliassime was cruising through the first two sets.

He needed 39 minutes to win the first set. Partway through, Auger-Aliassime fought off three game points while down 0-40. The youngster won the next five points to give himself a 5-2 lead in the set.

Down 1-0 in the second set, Auger-Aliassime hit three aces to win his first game. He would then win his next five consecutive games to take the set in 29 minutes.

But the tide turned in the third set.

Both players traded the first two points of the set before Karatsev won the next two points to put Auger-Aliassime down 4-2. The Canadian had 10 unforced errors in the third set, his first dropped set of the tournament.

Auger-Aliassime dropped the first game of the fourth set before winning his first game to tie it at 1-1. Karatsev then won the next three games and fired five aces before eventually winning the fourth set.

The final set was uncharted territory for both players as neither of them had ever played in a fifth set.

After dropping the opening game of the fifth set, Karatsev broke the Canadian to go up 2-1. Karatsev was up 4-2 later in the set before both players fought at deuce on six occasions for 12 minutes. Auger-Aliassime eventually secured the game

The two each won one more game before Karatsev had three match points to put the Canadian away. The Russian only needed one to prevail.

"The positive thing is, mentally, I stayed positive," Auger-Aliassime said. "I believed until the end. Even when I was down in the fifth set I still tried, I still believed."

The match-deciding fifth set lasted 58 minutes before Karatsev pulled off the comeback win.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2021.

The Canadian Press