FLORIDA – MARCH 24: during the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Hard Rock Stadium March 24

It wasn’t supposed to happen this fast, but suddenly – it is.

After an up-and-down 2018 season, Félix Auger-Aliassime found himself just shy of reaching his Top 100 goal that he had set for himself that January. He could be forgiven, therefore, if his goals for the new season was modest.

Fast-forward to March this season — a sunny Tuesday afternoon at the Miami Open, to be exact – and not only has the Canadian teenager vaulted to well within the world’s Top 100 (he’s currently ranked at No. 57), but he’s reached his first career Masters 1000 quarter-final, a result that ensures he’ll reach No. 41 next week at a minimum.

And with a ranking that high, he’ll be next-to-guaranteed entry into any top tournament he chooses.

Auger-Aliassime’s 7-6(4), 6-4 win over No. 17 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia (the country, not the state) proved that he’s well deserving of his ranking and his place among the top players in the game. It was his second win over a seeded player this week, and he was able to match fire with fire to secure a mature victory in one hour, 36 minutes on the Hard Rock Stadium’s Grandstand court.

Similar to his third-round encounter with the in-form Hubert Hurkacz, the first set was a struggle on the 18-year-old’s serve. Saving four break points throughout and making little impact on Basilashvili’s service games, Auger-Aliassime would ultimately drop his serve in the 11th game of the set. In the face of adversity, however, the Canadian raised his level to a hype-justifying summit, immediately breaking back to take proceedings into a tiebreak, which he dominated with his serve and sealed on the back of four consecutive points.

Momentum firmly in his favour, the Canadian got off to an early break in the second set as the Georgian’s volcanic forehands and backhands began to cool down. Though Basilashvili would take advantage of a loose Auger-Aliassime service game to level proceedings, once again the Montreal native would rise to the occasion, immediately breaking back and producing an impeccable final service game to close out the match.

By reaching the Miami Open quarter-finals, Auger-Aliassime becomes the first qualifier since 2007 to reach this stage in Miami and the youngest since Roddick back in 2001. The win moves his record against Top 20 opponents to a staggering 4-0.

Additionally, the victory gives Auger-Aliassime not only a major boost up the rankings, but solidifies him – along with teenaged compatriot Denis Shapovalov – as a legitimate contender against seasoned competitors. Both seeds he beat this week, 27-year-olds Marton Fucsovics and Basilashvili,  were late bloomers who have produced steady results over the years to find themselves at close to career-high rankings.

Auger-Aliassime, on the other hand, is anything but a late bloomer. The 18-year-old, who turns 19 in August, faces Borna Coric for a place in the semis.

(Feature photo: Mauricio Paiz)