Felix Auger-Aliassime follows through on a serve.

Photo : @atptour

If Félix Auger-Aliassime wanted a chance to avenge his quarter-final title-defence-spoiling loss to Daniil Medvedev in Rotterdam, he did not have to wait long.

The Canadian will meet his nemesis in the semifinals of the Qatar Open in Doha after grinding past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in two tight sets in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

As always, the speedy Spaniard gave Auger-Aliassime a tough time, giving away very few points and forcing the Canadian to hit that extra shot. But the world No. 9 was up to the task, winning all the big points for a 6-4, 7-6(5) win.

Despite the problems posed by Davidovich Fokina’s strong defence, Auger-Aliassime avoided getting frustrated and managed to fire 25 aces through the wall that was the seventh seed, while limiting himself to just a dozen errors. The serve was also clicking for the Canadian as he lost just six points on his first serve, winning 86 per cent including eight aces, and saved the only two break points he faced.

This was the first tour-level meeting between Auger-Aliassime and Davidovich Fokina that lasted the minimum number of sets. Six of the nine sets they have played in three meetings have been tiebreaks, including a four-tiebreak battle in Australia last year.

Right from the start it looked like another classic from the pair as they opened up the match with eight straight grinding holds. The first time Auger-Aliassime got a look at a break, he converted when the Spaniard sent a slice into the net. That was all the Canadian needed to take the first set.

Auger-Aliassime had a chance to take a stranglehold on the match when he slid into a beautiful backhand passing shot down the line to open up a love-40 advantage on his opponent’s serve, but the Spaniard escaped all three break points to stay on serve.

Read also: Fernandez runs into Swiatek buzzsaw in Dubai

The missed opportunity seemed to weigh on the Canadian as he followed it up with his worst service game of the match, falling behind 15-40 to face the only break points on his serve all day. But the serve was his salvation, as Auger-Aliassime fired four straight unreturned serves to hold.

Throughout the match, it was the Canadian acting as the aggressor, forcing Davidovich Fokina to run laps behind the baseline. But the ball just kept coming back and the longer the rallies went, the bigger the advantage to the Spaniard who won 54 per cent of points that went beyond nine shots.

But Auger-Aliassime was unphased and remained patient, refusing to be forced into unnecessary errors. He held to love to force a tiebreak.

Unsurprisingly, shaking Davidovich Fokina was just as tricky in the tiebreak as twice the Canadian grabbed a minibreak, only to hand it right back on the very next point. But when he held match point at 6-5 on the Spaniard’s serve, Auger-Aliassime took his opportunity and smoked a perfect return into Davidovich Fokina’s feet that the Spaniard failed to pick up.

His reward is a sixth overall meeting with Medvedev in the Doha semis exactly one week after the former world No. 1 won their Rotterdam quarter-final in straight sets. Medvedev has won all five previous meetings, all on hard courts. He has won their last five sets in a row.