A set-and-a-break deficit. Two match points opposite. No problem for Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The Canadian was in deep trouble in Cincinnati on Thursday night but got past Jannik sinner 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open.
“Jannik just played too well. I didn’t have a good start, I was missing a lot. But I just didn’t have the time. He played so fast, so precise, served well. It was just too good for a set and a half,” Auger-Aliassime said in his on-court interview. “The game where he broke me in the second when he made three returns in a row to the baseline, you can’t do much better than that, so I had to give it to him.
“But in the end I was still on the court trying to find ways to fight and see how I could make him miss a few more balls and put me in a competitive position and I did I did well… Coming back and playing like that in the tie-break and third set means a lot to me going forward.”
In the first half of the game, Sinner’s power and the return of Auger-Aliassime’s big serve made 2019 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals Champion in full control. The 20-year-old led 6-2, 4-2 and later held two consecutive match points 6-2, 6-5, 15/40 but failed to complete the match.
On the first of those match points, Sinner hit a terrific return to take offense but later missed a high forehand into the top of the net. Auger-Aliassime then smashed a serve-forehand combination to deny the Italian’s next chance.
From there, Sinner’s level dropped and Auger-Aliassime found more consistency to completely reverse the tone of the clash. The Canadian played a flawless tiebreak while his opponent’s game faltered.
Auger-Aliassime now leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head 2-0 after beating Sinner 6-1, 6-2 on clay three months ago Mutua Madrid Open.
“I had to move better after my second serve because you hit a second serve, he plays early and he hits it really hard straight at you so there’s not much you can do. Sometimes it’s too good,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But I had to move my feet a bit more, start the rally and then see how it goes. I think I did better.”
This was a crucial game in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. Auger-Aliassime consolidated sixth place in the Live Race as he attempts to qualify for the race Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. Sinner sits in 15th place but had an opportunity to gain ground with a deep run in Ohio this week.
The seventh seed will next play against world No. 152 Borna Korik, who enjoyed a dream run this week as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery. The Croatian has upset Rafael Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut in consecutive games.
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Auger-Aliassime has now reached four consecutive ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinals. The Canadian will be looking to reach his first semi-final at this level since Miami 2019 when he meets Coric.