Photo : Nitto ATP Finals
Back in May, Félix Auger-Aliassime pushed Rafael Nadal to the limit on the Spaniard’s best court. When the two met for a rematch in the Canadian’s preferred conditions, he got the job done.
Auger-Aliassime won his first match at the ATP Finals on Tuesday, taking down the world No. 2 in straight sets to improve his group stage record to 1-1 in Turin.
The Canadian overcame some early pressure from the 22-time Grand Slam winner, but once he got the lead he never let his foot off the gas, scoring his first win over Nadal in three meetings 6-3, 6-4.
A win from Auger-Aliassime keeps his hopes of advancing to the semifinals alive. The Canadian will have to beat American Taylor Fritz on Thursday in order to have a chance at finishing in the top two in the green group.
It was another one of the strong serving performances that have been commonplace for Auger-Aliassime over recent weeks. He won 81 per cent of his first serve points, which was key as he only managed 40 per cent of his seconds, and saved all five break points he faced.
Most impressively, he outgunned Nadal in the rallies, firing 32 winners to the Spaniards 13.
Auger-Aliassime found himself under pressure early in the match, facing a pair of break points in his opening service game, but managed to weather the early storm.
After back-to-back holds to love, he needed to save two more with forehand winners in the seventh game before turning the tables on Nadal.
The Canadian got his first break point opportunity of the match the very next game after a pair of Nadal double faults from 40-love up let Auger-Aliassime into a service game. Facing a break point for the first time, the Spaniard drove a forehand long.
In the second set, Auger-Aliassime struck early, breaking for a 2-1 lead when Nadal flubbed a volley.
Once he had the edge, the Canadian did not blink. He faced just one break point in the second set but was able to save it. When it came time to serve out the match, he made no mistake, closing out the win with a routine hold.
Thursday’s clash with Fritz is a must-win for Auger-Aliassime, although a win may not be enough depending on the American’s result later on Tuesday against Casper Ruud as the possibility ties either atop the group or for second place still exist.