There’s something in the water in Canada right now, with Denis Shapovalov bagging himself a seeding at the Australian Open at the age of 19, and 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu surging through qualifying in the women’s draw, winning her first round before going down in three sets to No.13 seed Anastasija Sevastova.
Waiting in the wings to join them is another 18-year-old: Auger-Alliassime, who lost in the second round of qualifying on his Australian Open debut. The Montreal native, who teamed up with Shapovalov to win the junior Davis Cup title in 2015, shares a birthday with Federer, and has the silky game to match. Having collected his third and fourth Challenger titles in 2018 – three on clay, and his first on hard in Tashkent in October – the 2016 US Open junior champion’s senior breakthrough may not have arrived as quickly as his friend Shapovalov, but it’s coming.
It’s something of a surprise that it took Poland’s Majchrzak as long as it has to reach his first Grand Slam main draw at Melbourne Park in 2019, given his 2013 US Open junior doubles title alongside Martin Redlicki and gold medal at the Youth Olympics a year later. But the 23-year-old made a splash on his debut, surging out to a two-set lead over No.8 seed and eventual quarterfinalist Kei Nishikori before cramping badly in the third.
How the remainder of 2019 will play out remains to be seen, but a run to the Burnie Challenger semifinals this week, where he defeated Tour stalwarts Go Soeda and Dudi Sela before falling to Australia’s Maverick Banes, suggests his strong start to the season could yet carry into the clay-court season, where he feels most at home.