Photo : ATP Tour
It’s on to Malaga for Félix Auger-Aliassime after the Canadian failed to advance out of the group stage at the ATP Finals.
His hopes of reaching the semifinals came down to his final match against American Taylor Fritz, but the Canadian was defeated in three sets 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-2.
A 1-2 record will see him finish third in the green group, not enough to qualify for the final four.
Both men were unforgiving on serve, but Fritz was slightly better, winning 88 per cent of his first serve points to Auger-Aliassime’s 75. He also saved all three break points he faced while the Canadian only saved three of five.
36 winners to Fritz’s 32 were ultimately not enough for Auger-Aliassime, who also committed 31 unforced errors.
Neither player faced much adversity on serve in the opening set as no break points were seen by either man.
The backhand let Auger-Aliassime down in the tiebreak, as one error cost him a minibreak lead and another gave the advantage to Fritz, who took the breaker 7-4.
Auger-Aliassime had a chance to quickly flip the script in the second set, holding three break points in the American’s opening service game, but failed to get a return in play on any of them.
Once again it came down to a tiebreak and once again Auger-Aliassime found himself down a minibreak. But this time the American blinked, double-faulting to level the tiebreak at 4-4. The Canadian then stepped up the aggression to win the final two points from 5-5 and send the match it a deciding set.
However, it was Fritz who started to create more openings on return in the third set. After laying on the pressure in the sixth game, Auger-Aliassime fired a forehand wide on his fourth break point to surrender the first break of the match.
Fritz would finish by winning the final four games in a row, breaking one more time to seal the win.
Auger-Aliassime is expected to finish his season next week at the Davis Cup Finals knockout stage in Malaga. He carried Team Canada presented by Sobeys through the group stage back in September in Valencia and will join a full-strength Canadian squad along with Denis Shapovalov, Vasek Pospisil, Alexis Galarneau, and Gabriel Diallo.
The Canadians will meet Germany in the quarter-finals. A potential rematch with Fritz may be on the cards in the semifinals as Canada will meet the winner between the United States and Italy.