Felix Auger-Aliassime continues to expunge the disappointment of his opening-round exit on home soil in Toronto last week by charging deeper into the draw at the Western & Southern Open. On Thursday night the Canadian defeated close friend and World No. 8 Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP Masters 1000 tennis tournament.
“Today I played a great match. At some points he didn’t play his best level but on the court you have to deal with different situations and I was able to find my way through,” Auger-Aliassime said.
The World No. 17 on Friday will play second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas as he attempts to reach his second semi-final at this level (Miami 2019).
Playing his first event since missing the Tokyo Olympics with a thigh injury, Berrettini looked below peak fitness and had additional strapping applied to his generously taped left leg after the seventh game of the first set. The Wimbledon finalist’s plight was not helped by him labouring on average for two and a half minutes longer on his service games in the first than his opponent and by him offering up eight break point opportunities.
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After breaking Berrettini for the second time to clinch the first set, Auger-Aliassime broke the Italian’s opening service game and from there chartered a smooth course towards his first win in three ATP Head2Head meetings and his sixth win over a Top 10 player.
Felix v. Stef ?
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The 21-year-old is 16th in the FedEx ATP Race to Turin and needs to produce big results at the remaining Masters 1000s and US Open to climb into contention for one of seven remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals. Coming into this week, he had a modest 4-8 record at the Masters 1000 level dating back to the Tour resumption in August last year.
But he improved to 28-17 on the year Thursday night and has designs on pushing beyond his career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 15 on Monday by continuing his charge at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre.
Auger-Aliassime now turns his focus to his seventh ATP Head2Head meeting with Tsitsipas, who has won the past four battles to lead the rivalry 4-2. “He’s a great rival and tomorrow will be another great battle. From here on it will be top, top players.”