Photo : Mauricio Paiz
Felix Auger-Aliassime will surely welcome a return to the indoor European hard courts that he dominated in 2022 after his Asian swing came to a disappointing end on Friday in Shanghai.
The Canadian lost his opening match at the Rolex Shanghai Masters to Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics in an epic three-setter, sending him back west without a win in Asia.
It was all about missed opportunities for Auger-Aliassime, who has lost his opening match in seven of his last eight events, as he let the first set slip away and could not complete the comeback in the third, falling 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and 23 minutes.
Fucsovics’ strategy of attacking at every opportunity paid off as he struck 39 winners to the Canadian’s 30 and won 66 per cent of Auger-Aliassime’s second serve points. The Hungarian converted three of his four break points while the Canadian only managed three of 12.
The opening set was full of chances that slipped away for Auger-Aliassime. He broke first for a 2-0 lead only to be immediately broken back. The Canadian had six more break points in the first set, including two set points at 5-4, but he could not convert.
That proved costly as Auger-Aliassime fell behind an early minibreak in the tiebreak and never recovered to drop a first set he could have taken.
Once again in the second set, it was the Canadian landing the first blow with a break for a 3-2 lead but just like the first set, Fucsovics responded immediately to put the set back on serve.
This time, Auger-Aliassime did not let his later chances slip away. At 4-4 with Fucsovics serving, the Hungarian misfired a forehand to give the four-time ATP Tour titlist a pair of break points and this time he got the break when Fucsocvics sliced a backhand into the net.
Serving for the set, there was no repeat of his previous breaks and Auger-Aliassime held to 15 to extend the match.
But in the decider, it was the Hungarian’s turn to take an early lead, breaking for 2-0 with a forehand winner. Unlike Auger-Aliassime’s two early breaks in the previous sets, Fucsovics backed up the break and stretched his lead to 3-0.
Auger-Aliassime only had once chance to recover the break in the decider and it came too late as the Hungarian served for the match at 5-3. After saving two match points, a backhand long from his opponent gave the Canadian a break point, but Fucsovics escaped with a huge forehand winner. He eventually converted his fourth match point in an epic final game.