Auger-Aliassime wins but top three seeds fall at National Bank Open

MONTREAL — The defending National Bank Open champion is out. The second and third seeds were also eliminated and the so-called Big Three did not make the trip.

The draw was opened on Wednesday at IGA Stadium before some players had played their first matches.

Carlos Alcaraz was the first to go, falling in the first session against American Tommy Paul. World No. 1 and top seed Daniil Medvedev was next, as he was dispatched by Australian Nick Kyrgios.

On the night, Montreal’s sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime thrilled a nearly packed crowd with a 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. British qualifier Jack Draper capped off the night by defeating third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 7-5, 7-6 (4).

Alcaraz lost a 6-7 (4), 7-6 (7), 6-3 decision to American Tommy Paul in a marathon that lasted three hours and 20 minutes.

“I felt the pressure of being the second seed in this tournament and No. 4 in the world,” Alcaraz said. “It’s the first time I feel this pressure and I couldn’t handle it.”

Kyrgios, coming off a win last week in Washington, knocked out Medvedev 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2. The Russian controlled the first set tie break, but Kyrgios opened with a break in the second set and did not look back.

“The dynamic changed from there,” Kyrgios said. “I felt my game good and I was confident under pressure like never before.”

Medvedev, who claimed a title last week in Mexico, was handcuffed at times by the Australian’s serve-and-volley game. Kyrgios was creative, consistent and even worked on a couple of underhand serves to keep his opponent guessing.

“I knew he was feeling confident, so I had to come out with a style of play that didn’t give him too much pace,” said Kyrgios, who improved to 3-1 in their head-to-head meetings.

The top eight seeds in the 56-player draw received byes in the first round.

Kyrgios, who reached the Wimbledon final last month, defeated Argentina’s Sebastian Baez in the first round.

“He played very well,” said Medvedev, who won last year in Toronto. “The only thing that was a shame for me is that I played him so early because he is fit.

“He’s in the top 10 or 15 players, so he’ll be seeded soon. It’s a shame to have such a player as an opponent in the first (match).”

Meanwhile, World No. 34 Paul saved a match point in a tie break and converted his fifth match point in the deciding set.

“I feel like we got glimpses of the highest level tennis I’ve ever played,” he said.

Auger-Aliassime, the only Canadian left in the draw, took the first set with a brilliant crosscourt winner to cap a 20-shot rally. She stood for a few seconds with her arms outstretched at her sides as the partisan crowd roared their approval of her.

“I’m happy with the way I kept myself composed,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I took care of my serve and finished the match in straight sets.”

Auger-Aliassime will play ninth-seeded Cameron Norrie of Great Britain in the next round. Norrie defeated Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-2.

Among the other top 10 seeds, No. 4 Casper Ruud of Norway defeated Alex Molcan of Slovakia 7-6(3), 6-3 and No. 7 Jannik Sinner of Italy edged Adrian Mannarino of France 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland defeated Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-2 and tenth seed Taylor Fritz beat fellow American Frances Tiafoe 5-7, 6-1, 6- Four.

Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., Alexis Galarneau of Laval, Que., and Vasek Pospisil, of Vernon, BC, lost their first-round singles matches earlier in the week.

In doubles play, Pospisil and Sinner dropped a 4-6, 6-2, 10-8 decision to the French duo of Benjamin Bonzi and Gael Monfils. Italians Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini posted a 6-4, 6-1 win over Calgary natives Cleeve Harper and Liam Draxl of Newmarket, Ontario.

After two days of wet weather and match postponements, sunny skies and warm temperatures returned on Wednesday.

Play continues through Sunday in the $6.57 million tournament.

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