For the first time ever, no American men or women made the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.
But for our neighbors to the North, there is much rejoicing: Canada has two players in the semifinals.
No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime joined Leylah Annie Fernandez in the semis after 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz retired with a leg injury down 6-3, 3-1 in a night quarterfinal in Arthur Ashe Stadium. After Monday night’s play lasted until past 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Tuesday night matches were over by 10:20 p.m., much to the disappointment of the crowd.
“It’s an amazing milestone, it’s been a fantastic tournament for me,” Auger-Aliassime, 21, told Brad Gilbert on court.
“Of course, it’s a weird ending today but in the end I’m through and I’ll have a chance on Friday to play against one of the best players in the world to have a chance to be in my first Grand Slam final. So it’s amazing, I’m happy I’m through and I’ll try to win the next one.”
Fernandez will also play in her first major semifinal against No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka. The Montreal native who trains in Boca Raton, Fla., has already beaten four-time major champion Naomi Osaka, three-time Slam winner Angelique Kerber and world No. 5 Elina Svitolina.
“I would say it’s the maple syrup,” she cracked when asked why the Canadians are doing so well.
Auger-Aliassime, who lost in the Wimbledon quarterfinals to eventual finalist Matteo Berrettini, will next face No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who is through to his third straight U.S. Open semifinal after losing the 2019 final to Rafael Nadal and in the 2020 semifinals to Dominic Thiem. Medvedev is 1-0 against the Canadian, but their only match was back in 2018 on outdoor hardcourts in Canada.
“Whoever wins gonna be on huge fire,” Medvedev said before he knew who he would be playing. “You know they are much younger than even me, even. I’m not old.
“But for them it’s going to be a first semis of a slam. You know, experience is not everything, because, for example, when I was in my first semis of a slam, I won it. Doesn’t mean if you’re there for the first time you’re gonna lose it.
“But I like that I have this experience. I know how is it. I’m not gonna be tight. I know that, yeah. After, it’s a question about tennis. If I play good, it’s going to be not easy for my opponent. That’s the most important thing I’m gonna try to do.”
Auger-Aliassime said he might have to “mix things up” against the huge-hitting Russian, possibly by coming to net more often. Against Alcaraz, he was 11-of-15 at the net.
“I have to mix things up, maybe come in,” he said. “Hopefully we put on a good show for you guys.”
Medvedev is hungry for his first major title after losing to Nadal here in 2019 and then to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final in February.
“I think Daniil will go in as a solid favorite,” John McEnroe said on ESPN. “That would be a big upset if Felix wins that.”
The other semifinalists will be determined Wednesday when No. 4 Alexander Zverev takes on Lloyd Harris in the afternoon quarterfinal, and Djokovic meets Berrettini at night. Djokovic is seeking to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the Grand Slam.
Auger-Aliassime, meantime, is into his first major semifinal and has an old hand as his coach: Toni Nadal, Rafael’s uncle and longtime coach who gave his blessing for his uncle to coach the Canadian.
“It’s great to have Toni,” he said, adding that the two speak in French. “He’s a great coach, a great person, a great adding to my team this year. It’s great to have him here.
“The communication is good and the results are coming so it’s good.”