Auger-Aliassime stretch forehand

Photo: Martin Sidorjak

It may not have been the player anyone expected when the draw came out, but Félix Auger-Aliassime met his match on Saturday night in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open and was stopped from reaching the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the second straight year by surprising Czech Jiri Lehecka who earned a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), 7-6(3) victory over the 22-year-old Canadian to advance to his first Grand Slam quarter-final.

In the opening set, Auger-Aliassime looked like the experienced player in the match, the one who had been there before. He was steady, efficient, and dominant on serve with Lehecka, ranked no. 71 in the world, unable to put much pressure on him in any facet of the game. But, with a lead secured, the tide turned in a big way and he was never able to right the ship.

The 21-year-old Czech was able to match and exceed Auger-Aliassime’s level over the final three sets. His net play and willingness to come forward kept his opponent on his heels and Auger-Aliassime couldn’t find a way to counter his well-executed strategy. As had been the case in his previous matches in Melbourne this year, Auger-Aliassime’s serve kept him afloat while he tried to find his form, but his other shots ultimately let him down and he couldn’t find another gear to pull out the win.

Lehecka matched Auger-Aliassime’s winner total with 39 over four sets and only faced four break points on his serve in the whole match, conceding once in the first set. He also went to net 41 times and won 33 of those points for a success rate of 80%. After triumphs over Borna Coric, Cameron Norrie and now Auger-Aliassime, Lehecka will look to continue his Cinderella run against third-seeded Stefanos Tsitspias of Greece while Auger-Aliassime shifts his attention to defending his title in Rotterdam next month.

Dabrowski Advances in Women’s Doubles

Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski has moved through to the third round of the women’s doubles draw alongside her partner Giuliana Olmos of Mexico. The third-seeded pair defeated the Swiss duo of Belinda Bencic and Jill Teichmann 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to set up a meeting with Caroline Dolehide and Anna Kalinskaya with a quarter-final berth on the line.

Meanwhile, the Canadian was eliminated in her opening mixed doubles contest with Aussie Max Purcell 2-6, 7-5, [10-7] by Lizette Cabrera and John-Patrick Smith.