On Saturday, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime shared a moment at Melbourne Park.
"He kind of gave me a look and said, 'You got this,'" Shapovalov told TSN's Mark Roe. "It gave me confidence before the match."
Shapovalov, the No. 14 seed, certainly played confidently in taking out Alexander Zverev, the No. 3 seed, in straight sets on Sunday. Auger-Aliassime, the No. 9 seed, joined his countryman in the quarter-finals by defeating Marin Cilic, the No. 27 seed, in four sets on Monday.
In a matter of two days, Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime doubled the list of Canadian men to make the last eight in singles at the Australian Open. They joined Milos Raonic, who accomplished the feat five times, and Michael Belkin, who did it in 1968.
"We're motivating each other," Auger-Aliassime told reporters in his post-match media conference. "We keep a good relationship, but at the same time push each other in a good way ... It also spreads the pressure."
This is the second time that two Canadian men have made the singles quarter-finals at the same major. Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov also did it at Wimbledon last year.
"We go deep now in a lot of slams," said Auger-Aliassime. "It's nice that we're able to be consistent. We just won the ATP Cup. We're showing more and more that it's not luck. We won one of the biggest team titles in the sport together at the start of the year. I'm glad to see Denis and I are able to continue that rhythm and keep riding that wave."
"You can't ask for better people to look up to for young kids in Canada," said Steven Diez, who was teammates with Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov at the ATP Cup. "With Rafael [Nadal] and Roger [Federer] back in the day for the tennis world, we kind of have that in Canada now."
Nadal and Federer competed and won with class for so many years while maintaining a friendly rivalry despite their different personalities. Diez, who is No. 273 in the ATP rankings, sees a similar dynamic between Shapovalov, an electric lefty from Ontario, and Auger-Aliassime, a steely righty from Quebec.
"They're both really polite and great guys," said Diez. "They're similar, but really different at the same time. Denis is more of a funny guy, a character. Felix is a bit more serious. I don't want to say he's more focused, but more serious."
To keep the magic going in Melbourne, Shapovalov, 22, and Auger-Aliassime, 21, will have to knock out the tournament favourites. Shapovalov will face No. 6 seed Nadal on Monday at approximately 10 p.m. ET on TSN1 and TSN4 while Auger-Aliassime will take on Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning (time TBA).
It's another big moment for a couple Canadian kids, who have been growing up together in the tennis world.
Auger-Aliassime reached his first major semifinal at the US Open last year where he fell to Medvedev. He's 0-3 against the Russian with all three losses on outdoor hard courts. But Auger-Aliassime was also 0-3 against Cilic.
"First, I need to play good and dig deep," said Auger-Aliassime. "I can try and mix things up as much as I want, the reality is he's the best player, almost, in the world now. I need to play a great match and give a great effort mentally and physically."
It wasn't the smoothest start for Auger-Aliassime at the Australian Open. He needed eight hours to get through the first two rounds, but he held his nerve and served big when it mattered most. That pattern continued Monday against Cilic, the 2018 Australian Open finalist, who came out firing to grab a 6-2 lead.
"I just had to stay calm, stay composed," Auger-Aliassime said, "and knowing if I start serving better, I'm going to give myself chances. I wasn't putting enough pressure on him."
"He knows where he wants to go and more and more, he knows how," coach Frederic Fontang told TSN a couple days ago. "This year, the next step was to win even when he wasn't playing well. That's what all the top players are doing. During a Grand Slam, potentially seven matches, of course you will not be perfect every match."
Toni Nadal remains part of Auger-Aliassime's team. He speaks with Fontang after every match. Fontang will then talk tactics with Auger-Aliassime, but usually only a couple hours before the upcoming match.
"My philosophy is less is better in terms of information," Fontang explained. "I prefer that Felix, as the player, is the captain of the boat. He has the tools to find the way to victory. It's important Felix has this mindset."
Shapovalov made a major breakthrough at Wimbledon last year reaching the semifinals and giving World No. 1 Novak Djokovic a real fight. He struggled to maintain that level the rest of the season and eventually split with coach Mikhail Youzhny. He's now working with Jamie Delgado, who previously mentored Andy Murray.
"He's got a more calm sense to his game," observed Adriano Fuorivia, who coached Shapovalov in juniors and briefly in the pros and spent time with him during the recent off-season training. "He's still young, but he's maturing. Not everything goes right all the time, but he's able to deal with things faster and find ways to make an average day into a better day."
One of Shapovalov's best days came back in 2017 when he shocked Nadal in Montreal.
"He's one of the players with the biggest potential on the tour," Nadal said in a news conference on Sunday. "I mean, when I played against him [in Montreal], after the match I said, 'He's going to be a potential multi-Grand Slam winner.' I still think, if he's able to keep improving, he will be a multi-Grand Slam winner. When he's playing well it's very difficult to stop him."
Nadal has won three straight matches against Shapovalov since the shocking upset in Canada, but their last meeting, on clay in Rome last year, went to a final set tiebreak and the stubborn Spaniard needed to save a pair of match points.
Nadal won his lone Australian Open title in 2009. Shapovalov had never been past the third round at the Australian Open before this year.
Whatever happens over the next two days, the tone has been set for Canada's tennis season.
"What we've been doing has been amazing," Shapovalov told reporters in his post-match news conference on Sunday. "What we're doing in Australia is special. Hopefully a lot of Canadians are able to watch. It's not a super easy time in Canada right now so hopefully it's shedding a little a bit of light and people have something to watch and cheer for and follow."
"I hope it gives the idea to people back home that this is possible," said Auger-Aliassime. "We've done it. I truly believe other Canadians can do that as well. Originally, we weren't a tennis country. Now, we really are."