Félix Auger-Aliassime is through to his first ATP Tour final after beating Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the semi-final of the Rio Open. The 18-year-old, who is now guaranteed a spot in the ATP top 60, will face Laslo Đere on Sunday with a chance of claiming a first tour-level title of his promising career.
Having surged past Jaume Munar of Spain 6-4, 6-3 in the last eight, the Montreal-native, who entered the tournament as a wild card, battled fiercely to knock out 2016 champion Cuevas, who put up a resilient fight over the course of the match.
On-court after the match, Auger-Aliassime said: “It’s unbelievable, it’s so surreal. I always believe in myself but, honestly, today I had a slight chance to win. I felt, because Pablo is an unbelievable player, he won the tournament here and he’s real experienced but from the start it felt good. After the first set I’m like ‘okay, I’m going to have a chance in this’ so I’m really happy.”
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) February 23, 2019
It was clear from the very beginning that Auger-Aliassime wasn’t daunted by the occasion of his maiden ATP semi-final. He won the first game without conceding a point before seeing off two break points in the third to hold his serve. The fourth game saw the youngster earn two break points of his own and he made sure to take advantage of the second, forcing Cuevas to overhit a backhand and drop his serve.
The Canadian was putting on an incredibly athletic display, outworking his Uruguayan opponent all over the court. His efforts were duly rewarded as he claimed the first set 6-3, sealing the last game with a series of dominant points.
First Final for Felix! 🇨🇦
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 23, 2019
Determined to continue in the same vein, Auger-Aliassime delivered a hammer blow of a forehand to break Cuevas in the first game of the second set. But the 33-year-old, determined to turn the tide of the match, immediately responded by breaking Auger-Aliassime’s serve twice and going on to win the second set 6-3.
As has been the case throughout the tournament, the young Canadian showed maturity beyond his years to regroup, holding his serve in the first game of the third set and breaking Cuevas in the second. Auger-Aliassime then produced a master-class in serving in the final game to secure the victory and his place in his first ATP final.
Speaking to the press following the match, Auger-Aliassime added: “I feel like I can probably go all the way but, again, it’s going to be a tough match. I haven’t played Laslo but I’ve seen what he’s been doing. So, it’s going to be a battle again and we’ll see the outcome.”
(Feature photo: Rio Open/FotoJump)