Photo : @ATPTour
Three years after their last meeting in the first round of a Grand Slam, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil saw a similar result on Monday at the Australian Open with the sixth-seeded Auger-Aliassime rallying for a four-set win.
Just like their clash at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, Pospisil got off to a quicker start but in the end it was the man from Montreal who ultimately maintained his level and was able to walk away victorious, reaching the second round with a 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 victory.
Auger-Aliassime joins Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the Australian Open. The Canadian No. 2 also advanced in four sets earlier on Monday.
There was very little to decide between the two Canadians, who posted similar numbers on serve, although Auger-Aliassime applied far more pressure by creating 12 break points in the match, although Pospisil actually broke serve more times, four to three.
Pospisil had more winners in the match, 46 to 31, but also committed 45 unforced errors to his opponents 36. In the end, Auger-Aliassime won just three more points than his Davis Cup teammate.
After saving a pair of break points in the opening game with big serves, Pospisil quickly found his footing and took advantage of some sloppy play from Auger-Aliassime to break twice and race ahead to a 5-0 lead, which was enough cushion to claim the first set.
Like in the first, Auger-Aliassime had an early chance at a break in the second set and this time was able to take advantage, coaxing errors out of his countryman to break for a 2-0 lead.
It was short-lived however, as some big-hitting from Pospisil allowed the veteran to level the set at 3-3.
A tight second-set tiebreak came down to the wire, with the two men matching each other shot for shot until Auger-Aliassime reeled off four points in a row from 3-4 down to level the match.
At the start of the third, Pospisil appeared to be struggling with cramps and once again faced early pressure on his serve. He survived the opening game but fell behind love-40 in the third game and netted a forehand to surrender the early break,
Despite his physical struggles, Pospisil managed to keep a high level. Going for broke at every opportunity, he managed to break to love to level the set at 4-4.
Auger-Aliassime was undeterred and continued applying pressure to the Pospisil serve. The British Columbian managed to escape the ninth and eleventh games on his serve despite facing multiple break points, but the sixth seed went on a run early in the tiebreak with six points in a row which proved too great a mountain for Pospisil to overcome.
Just like each of the first three sets, the Montrealer put pressure on in his first return game and for the third set in a row, he was able to score and early break with a big passing shot. Unlike the previous two sets, Auger-Aliassime did not let Pospisil mount a comeback as he hung on to wrap up the win in just under four hours.
Auger-Aliassime will meet Alex Molcan, who defeated three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka in five sets in round one, in the second round. Molcan won their lone previous meeting last season on clay in a third-set tiebreak in Marrakech.