Pospisil victory sets up match against fellow Canadian Shapovalov at Indian Wells

Canada’s Vasek Pospisil is moving on at Indian Wells.

The 31-year-old defeated American J.J. Wolf 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday to book a second-round date with fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

Shapovalov, seeded ninth, earned automatic entry through the Round of 128.

After dominating the first set, Pospisil ceded control of the match during a shakier second set.

Wolf, ranked 187th, then broke the 68th-ranked Canadian to go up 3-1 in the third set. Pospisil, perhaps feeling the match slipping away, smashed his racket in frustration, leading to an unsportsmanlike conduct warning from the chair umpire.

WATCH | Pospisil smashes racket after losing game:

Pospisil obliterates racket in frustration during match against Wolf

Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil destroys his racket during the third set. The Canadian would gather himself and would go on to win the match against American J.J. Wolf. 0:55

But Pospisil composed himself, breaking back twice to avoid the final-set tiebreaker and advance at the California tournament.

Three other Canadians are competing in California.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, seeded seventh, awaits the winner of a match between Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the second round.

On the women’s side, 2021 U.S. Open finalist Leylah Annie Fernandez, seeded 23rd, takes on France’s Alize Cornet in a second-round match on Friday.

WATCH | Previewing the Canadians at Indian Wells:

What should we expect from Canada’s rising tennis stars at Indian Wells?

Anastasia Bucsis is joined by Vivek Jacob to preview the 2021 BNP Paribas Open, as Canada’s young tennis stars Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Fernandez, Dennis Shapovalov, and Felix Auger-Aliassime are looking to leave their mark at Indian Wells. 5:39

Meanwhile, reigning Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu is also automatically through to the Round of 64. She’ll face the winner of a match between American Alison Riske and En-Shuo Liang of Taiwan.

Normally held in March, the tournament known colloquially as the “fifth Slam” was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic after being cancelled outright in 2020. Andreescu won in 2019, kicking off her memorable season in which she went on to win titles at the Rogers Cup and U.S. Open.

The tournament, a joint ATP and WTA 1000-point event, carries a total prize pool of around $17 million US.

Other notable first-round results on Thursday included wins for Japan’s Kei Nishikori and American Frances Tiafoe, while 38-year-old Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters’ comeback took a hit with a loss to Katerina Siniakova.

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