felix auger-aliassime hits a forehand at the Noventi Open

Photo : NOVENTI OPEN/Mathias Schulz

For the second time in as many weeks, Félix Auger-Aliassime faced Ugo Humbert, the World No. 31 of France. Auger-Aliassime won their quarter-final battle at the MercedesCup last week in Stuttgart 7-6(5), 7-6(8).

Humbert was able to get instant revenge on the Canadian and won today’s semi-final match 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5). The Frenchman advances to the Noventi Open final, his first final appearance at the ATP 500 level.

It’s been an extremely positive last couple of weeks for Auger-Aliassime. He was a finalist at the MercedesCup, he beat his childhood idol Roger Federer, and he played great tennis in Halle.

Despite falling just short of back-to-back final appearances, the Canadian looks in top shape and ready to contend at Wimbledon in two weeks.

In today’s match, Humbert got the better of the Canadian.

Although their last match didn’t have a single break of serve, today’s contest had two in the first three games.

Auger-Aliassime registered the first break in the second game and Humbert answered right back in the third.

In the sixth game, Auger-Aliassime clawed back down 40-15 and set up two break point opportunities. However, Humbert was prepared to answer the bell and managed to hold to keep the match tied at three games apiece.  

After coming up clutch and saving those two break point opportunities, Humbert broke the Canadian in the seventh game and didn’t allow him a chance to break back.

In the first game of the second set, Auger-Aliassime faced a Humbert break point opportunity. He couldn’t save it, as the Canadian double-faulted and gave Humbert the early break advantage.

However, the Montreal native responded terrifically to his opening game blunder and broke Humbert in the sixth and eighth game to send today’s contest to a decider.

In the third set, the servers didn’t drop a game and sent the match to a final set tiebreak.

Auger-Aliassime did have five break point opportunities in the third set, but they were fought off by the clinging Frenchman. Auger-Aliassime also saved two match points in the 10th game to keep his singles tournament hopes alive.

Ultimately, Humbert earned the first mini-break in the tiebreak and won the semi-final battle in Halle. Humbert now leads their head-to-head 2-1.

The tournament isn’t over yet for Auger-Aliassime. The Canadian and his doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz take on Tim Pütz of Germany and Michael Venus of Australia in the semi-final later today.

Shapovalov sent packing by home favourite Norrie at Cinch Championships

Denis Shapovalov’s strong run at the cinch Championships at London’s prestigious Queen’s Club came to an end on Saturday afternoon in the British capital, falling in straight sets to Britain’s Cameron Norrie, 7-5, 6-3.

Despite leading by a break early on in the match, Shapovalov was never able to find his footing – literally, at times – on the slick grass of a socially-distant yet full Centre Court. Relinquishing the break back not soon after securing it, the Canadian found the blistering pace of his own groundstrokes reflected back by Norrie’s compact, counter-striking brand of tennis.

On the back of a few loose serves, Shapovalov conceded the first set after 48 minutes of play.

The second set was played closely between both players, with several electric points bringing an exuberant cinch Championships crowd to its feet. Although the 22-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ontario was able to string together some highlight reel shots, the steadiness of Norrie was ultimately the decisive factor. The Briton broke Shapovalov to deuce in the eighth game and served out the win with ease to reach the first grass-court final of his career.

Up next for Shapovalov is Wimbledon.