It’s not every day that you see two players who just faced off in a Grand Slam singles final take the doubles court together, but that's exactly what's happening in Montreal.
The fans at the Rogers Cup witnessed Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson take on Canadian teens Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime in the first round. There was a combined two doubles titles between them as Anderson and Djokovic each had won once before. Shapovalov and Aliassime, only recently starting their pro careers, had more familiarity with each other than the Wimbledon finalists as the two took home the US Open junior title back in 2015.
Team Canada played “Djokerson” close in the first set before the veterans wrapped it up 6-3.
The second set went by a little faster, with Anderson and Djokovic clinching it by a 6-2 score line.
Afterward, Djokovic had nothing but praise for his young opponents.
“The Canadian teenagers are great players,” the former world No. 1 said. “Both of them, you know, very lively players; very, very focused; very disciplined. Physically and mentally strong, very mature for their age.
“I mean, Denis is already established top 50 player, and he's making his way up,” he added. “You know, beating [Rafael] Nadal last year at Montreal, it was a big win for him, and he had some great matches along the way. And he showed that he can play also on clay and other surfaces, which is great to see.”
Djokovic also noted the mental and physical maturity of Aliassime.
“And Felix, you know, he's not even 18 and playing at this stage and showing some dedication on the court and willpower, which is quite nice to see and refreshing,” he said. “We want to see young players playing well and challenging the best players in the world.
“So I think good days are ahead of both of them.”
On his experience playing with Anderson, whom he just defeated for his 13th Grand Slam title, Djokovic acknowledged how rare a partnership this is and the emotions around it.
“Yeah, well, I mean, I must admit it was exciting, but it was also strange because, you know, he's a top player,” he said. “We faced each other less than a month ago in Wimbledon in finals. And now you are sitting next to him so close and then, you know, you're drinking water, sharing towels. You know, you feel each other's breath and everything.
“I think it's quite an interesting experience for both of us and refreshing at times because we see each other mostly across the net,” Djokovic added. “To be on the same side of the net was great, and I enjoyed it very much so. I'm looking forward for another match with him.”
Rain has played a bit of havoc with the schedule, forcing some quick turnarounds on the singles side. After both players complete their singles matches on Thursday, they’re slated to take on three-time Grand Slam titlists Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who happen to be the defending champions.
It could be a short run for the singles specialists, but at least they had their turn in the doubles spotlight.
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Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev headline the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Watch live coverage from four courts on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, August 6th at 11:00 A.M.