Photo : Rolex Paris Masters
No longer carrying the pressure of needing to qualify for the ATP Finals, Félix Auger-Aliassime look rejuvenated on Thursday in Paris as he cruised into the quarter-finals with a straight-sets win.
The Canadian had struggled in his opening match at the Masters 1000 event against Mikael Ymer, but showed little signs of the same wear and tear as he sent Gilles Simon into retirement, who was competing in his final event on the ATP Tour, with a 6-1, 6-3 win.
His winning streak is now up to 15 consecutive victories. Thursday marks exactly one month since Auger-Aliassime’s last defeat, coming on Oct. 3 in Astana.
Simon was responsible for Auger-Aliassime qualifying for the ATP Finals when he upset Taylor Fritz on Wednesday.
Auger-Aliassime handled the Frenchman’s crafty defence well, hitting 26 winners and limiting his errors to just a dozen. As always, he served well, pounding a 11 aces and saving both break points he faced, while taking advantage of Simon’s weaker serve by winning 49 per cent of the Frenchman’s service points.
Both men played epic second-round matches on Wednesday, but the younger Auger-Aliassime was able to bounce back more quickly, racing out to a 3-0 lead to start the round three clash. An easy backhand long from the Frenchman was responsible for the early break.
The counterpunching of Simon did not seem to be bothering the Canadian, as he controlled the rallies and took his openings when they appeared. Auger-Aliassime ripped a forehand winner to score a second break and a 5-1 lead before serving out the set.
One set away from retirement, Simon threw everything he had left at Auger-Aliassime early in the second set. He held break points in each of the Canadians first two service games, but he missed a backhand on the first and forehand on the second.
When the door opened for Auger-Aliassime at 3-3, he burst through, taking advantage of a tired-looking Simon with a pair of drop shots to deliver the break. With the match on the line, the Canadian broke again to wrap up the victory.
Auger-Aliassime is into the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters for the first time, his seventh Masters 1000 quarter-final overall. He has reached the last eight at five straight Masters 1000 events dating back to Madrid in May.
In order to reach the semifinals of a Masters 1000 event for the first time since Miami in 2019, he will need to defeat American Frances Tiafoe. Auger-Aliassime leads their head-to-head 2-0, including a straight-set win on clay earlier this year in Barcelona and their lone hard court clash at the 2021 US Open.