Tennis great Roger Federer isn’t ready to leave the game just yet, but he knows it’ll be in good hands when he does thanks to a talented group of Canadian teenagers.
The unprecedented rapid rise of young Canucks like Bianca Andreescu, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime has captured the attention of the tennis world and is one of the best stories in sports right now.
Federer has been keeping a close eye on the next generation of tennis talent, and is about to go head-to-head with Shapovalov for the first time on Friday evening in the semi-final of the Miami Open.
Following his quarter-final victory over South Africa’s Kevin Anderson Thursday, Federer was asked about Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime and heaped praise on the Canadians:
“It’s great news. It’s great for the game because they will carry the sport when we’re long gone, and we’ll be sitting on the couch and watching those guys slug it out,” Federer said during his post-match on-court interview with ESPN. “That will be a joy to watch, because not only are they great, great players but they’re good people, too.”
We could actually see the pair of youngsters slug it out as early as this weekend in what could be an all-Canadian final in Miami. Shapovalov can get to the final with a win over the Swiss legend while Auger-Aliassime can do the same if he can defeat John Isner in his semi-final matchup.
Coming soon… TWO Canadians in the #MiamiOpen semi-finals
Félix Auger-Aliassime takes on John Isner at 1pm ET
Denis Shapovalov faces Roger Federer at 7pm ET
Who do you think we see in the final? pic.twitter.com/5KyqGriafr
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) March 29, 2019
Shapovalov, who grew up in the Greater Toronto Area, has shot up the ATP rankings in the past two years. The 19-year-old jumped from 250th at the beginning of 2017 to No. 51 at year’s end, and made the jump to 27th the following year thanks to another impressive season.
“I love to see that about them this year and especially last year as well, they’re really starting to break through and won some big events and start to beat the top guys, too,” said Federer. “I think it’s going to be a really, really interesting year and here in Miami we see two of the most talented guys out there on tour right right now, both from Canada.”
Auger-Aliassime also turned pro in 2017, and his rise up the ranks has been almost as fast as his fellow Canadian. The Montreal native, currently ranked No. 57, upset Croatia’s Borna Ćorić (13) Wednesday to advance to the semi-final in Miami.
“Felix came to Dubai to train with me in the off-season and it was a joy to work with [him],” Federer said of the 18-year-old. “He was ranked, like, 200, and I knew he was on the rise — but maybe not this quickly. He’s got an amazing bright future ahead of himself, and Denis [does] as well.”
Federer said he’s looking forward to facing Shapovalov — who, we might add, was not yet born when Federer first hit the pro tennis circuit — on Friday.
“He’s one of the biggest shot-makers in the game, I just love his forehand,” he said. “He’s got a great attitude and just keeps going for it, so I’m looking forward to the match. I’ve never played Denis before so I hope we can come out and play a great match, that would be wonderful.”