Félix Auger-Aliassime continues his dream run in a wide-open draw at the Rio Open, defeating Christian Garin – his conqueror last week in Buenos Aires – 7-5, 6-4 in a tense physical battle under the evening lights of the Quadra Central.
In a tournament that lost seven of its top eight seeds in the first round (including No. 2 seed Fabio Fognini to Auger-Aliassime himself), the open draw presented both the Canadian teenager and his opponent Garin a significant opportunity to earn valuable ATP ranking points.
Both players got off to a nervy start, swapping several breaks early on that recalled their match-up last week, which featured a shocking 11 breaks of serve. Auger-Aliassime would steady his serving sooner, however, and after breaking Garin in the 10th game of the first set, closed it out with composure.
The second set saw the Chilean, a former Roland Garros junior champ with an impressive pedigree on clay, race out to a 2-0 lead and come within a point of 3-0, before the 18-year-old wild card battled his way to a break of the once-again wavering Garin serve.
Seemingly invigorated by the hard-fought break in the third game of the second set, Auger-Aliassime brought out the sublime tennis that saw him upset World No. 16 Fognini in the previous round, while Garin’s energy and focus seemed to dip. After one final flawless service game, it was Auger-Aliassime who emerged victorious in the rematch after one hour, 46 minutes.
Revenge at the #RioOpen!
Avenging his loss last week to Christian Garin, Auger-Aliassime advances 7-5, 6-4, playing a couple brilliant points in the final game to close it out.
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) February 21, 2019
The victory ensures that Auger-Aliassime will vault into the Top 90 in the ATP Rankings next week, as well as earns him a spot in his second tour-level quarter-final of his young career – and by far the biggest. He’ll face Spain’s Jaume Munar, who advanced earlier in the day after a three-hour, 19-minute epic.
(Feature photo: Rio Open/FotoJump)