Photo : ABN Amro Open

After two straight-forward wins to start his title defence at the ABN Amro Open in Rotterdam, Félix Auger-Aliassime will face a major test in the quarter-finals when he takes on former world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev.

The Canadian will look to overturn a 0-4 head-to-head deficit against Medvedev. It will be their first meeting in over a year, with the last clash being their epic 2022 Australian Open quarter-final where Auger-Aliassime led two sets to love and held a match point.

Auger-Aliassime, who is defending a title for the first time in his career this week in Rotterdam, booked his spot in the last eight early on Thursday with a straight-set win over French qualifier Gregoire Barrere.

Picking up where he left off after his impressive opening-round win over Lorenzo Sonego, the Canadian No. 1 struck late in both sets to put away Barrere 6-4, 6-3.

Apart from one bad game in the opening set, it was a regular dominant day on serve for Auger-Aliassime, who pounded nine aces and won 78 per cent of his first serve points, with 41 per cent of his serves not being returned. He only faced two break points in the match, while creating five.

His ability to finish points was critical. Auger-Aliassime fired off 21 winners, while Barrere only managed eight. The third-seeded Canadian also gave away fewer points, committing 14 unforced errors to his opponent’s 15, and was a perfect six-for-six at the net.

Auger-Aliassime used his variety in the early stages of the match to keep his French opponent off-balance, mixing in slices and off-pace shots with his booming forehand to keep Barrere on the defensive. He was rewarded with a break in the sixth game when the Frenchman sent a backhand into the net.

Serving for the set at 5-3, the Canadian played a rare poor game on serve, double-faulting to go down love-40 and mishitting a backhand to give away the love break.

However, he responded perfectly by coaxing four straight errors out of the Frenchman to break serve for the set.

After having a few looks on the Barrere serve early in the second set, it was Auger-Aliassime having to stare down the first break point but he bailed himself out with a big serve.

That was the last chance the Frenchman had to get back in the match. While the Canadian failed to convert a break point a game after saving one, he dialled up the pressure in the eighth game and broke to love.

Unlike the first set, Auger-Aliassime had no trouble closing out the match, finishing with another big serve. He won 12 of the last 14 points in the match.

Despite having never beaten Medvedev in four previous meetings, all on hard courts, a few factors are in the Canadian’s favour ahead of their fifth meeting.

For the first time, Auger-Aliassime will be the higher-ranked player when the two meet. While their previous four meetings all came on hard courts, the Rotterdam quarter-final will be their first meeting indoors, where the Canadian led the ATP Tour in match wins and titles since his last meeting with Medvedev.