Photo: Martin Sidorjak
Two weeks ago, Félix Auger-Aliassime capped off the clay-court season with a tremendous French Open outing, pushing 14-time champion Rafael Nadal to a decider in the fourth round and playing arguably one of the best matches of his career.
Now onto grass-court tennis, the 21-year-old Canadian is hoping to make a splash on the surface before heading to the All England Club for the third Grand Slam of the season.
Today’s round-of-16 match in Halle, Germany, against American Mackenzie McDonald should be enough to give Auger-Aliassime the confidence he needs ahead of Wimbledon as he raced past the former NCAA champion of UCLA in a quick one-hour and 31-minute contest.
The opening set had some strange similarities on the two sides of the net, as both Auger-Aliassime and McDonald kept 64 per cent of first serves in play and won the same amount of first-serve points. In addition, they both failed to convert on their lone break point opportunities, which sent the first set to a tiebreak.
The back-and-forth tiebreak eventually went the Canadian’s way, even though Auger-Aliassime hit back-to-back unforced errors while serving at 6-5 and 6-6. Auger-Aliassime finished the first set with 11 unforced errors, however, they became practically extinct in the second set.
Auger-Aliassime, who reached the Halle semi-finals last year, went on to completely dominate the remainder of the match, winning 76 per cent of services points and 67 per cent of return points. In under 30 minutes, he broke his opponent three times and clinched the match by a score of 7-6(7), 6-1.
The Canadian finished the match with 42 winners and 13 unforced errors to his opponent’s mear 7 and 6.
Auger-Aliassime will now face good friend Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals. The two played each other last year in Halle – Auger-Aliassime taking that one 6-3, 7-5. They also paired up in doubles and fell just short of the crown, losing 7-6, 6-4 in the finals.