Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/Open 13
For the second time in as many weeks, Félix Auger-Aliassime booked a spot in an ATP Tour-level final, this time at the Open 13 Provence. The Canadian won his first career singles title last week at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament and was still hungry for more, taking down Roman Safiullin 7-6(4), 7-6(5) in the Marseille semi-finals.
Today’s bout was the first singles meeting between Auger-Aliassime and Safiullin, the 24-year-old Russian who is playing at a much higher level than his ranking (No. 163) indicates. The two did face off in doubles at the ATP Cup in January – Auger-Aliassime winning the match 4-6, 7-5, 10-7 alongside compatriot Denis Shapovalov.
With his victory against Safiullin this afternoon, Auger-Aliassime advances to his 10th singles finals and his second at the Open 13 Provence. He will face Andrey Rublev for the title on Sunday as he looks to add another crown to his trophy case.
The opening set was anyone’s game, as both players had two breaks of serve and it required a tiebreak. Safiullin had the stronger start in the tiebreaker, but Auger-Aliassime quickly turned things around, winning six straight points, to take the set by a score of 7-6(4).
The difference-maker in the first set was Auger-Aliassime’s ability to take advantage of Safiullin’s second serves. The Canadian was 11/11 on his second-serve return points.
The second set was more straightforward and had less drama than the first. Auger-Aliassime and Safiullin cruised through their early service games, up until the eighth game when the Russian was forced to turn aside four break point opportunities. Besides that, there weren’t any other opportunities to break serve in the set, sending it to another tiebreak.
This time around it was the Canadian who had the better start to the tiebreak, rushing his way to a 4-1 lead. Safiullin got a mini-break back, however, Auger-Aliassime kept applying the pressure and clinched the victory on his first match point.
Auger-Aliassime’s record in 2022 is now 15-3. Incredible!