Felix Auger-Aliassime lunges to hit a forehand.

Photo : Qatar Tennis

There is one opponent that no one who has ever picked up a tennis racket has defeated, and that is a brick wall.

For Félix Auger-Aliassime, Daniil Medvedev must feel like one.

A week after spoiling the Canadian’s title defence in Rotterdam, Medvedev booted Auger-Aliassime out of a tournament once again on Friday, this time defeating him in the Doha semifinals in straight sets.

While the second seed did a better job of dictating points and hanging with his crafty opponent than he did a week ago, Auger-Aliassime could not find a strategy to keep Medvedev from extending rallies and drawing errors. The result was a gritty 6-4, 7-6(7) victory for the man who now leads their head-to-head 6-0.

Once again, Medvedev played a clean match, committing just eight unforced errors while drawing 27 out of his opponent. He also survived 30 winners from Auger-Aliassime, whose usually lethal first serve let him down as he put just 56 per cent of them in play.

As is often the case with Medvedev, the longer rallies greatly benefitted him as he won 57 per cent of points that went beyond five shots, which accounted for almost half the points in the match.

Right from the start, the matchup problem caused by Medvedev was on full display as the Canadian ran him around the court but struggled to end points. The result was an immediate break of serve for the former world No. 1.

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The Medvedev wall continued to frustrate Auger-Aliassime, who found himself facing a pair of break points at 2-4, 15-40 but a pair of uncharacteristic misses from Medvedev allowed the Canadian to hold serve.

That game marked the start of a brief lull from Medvedev that lasted just long enough for Auger-Aliassime to extend the set. A poor game from the third seed gave the Canadian a love-40 opening and on the second break point, he fired a passing shot into Medvedev’s feet to level the set at 4-4.

Auger-Aliassime had a chance to pull ahead for the first time when he led the following game 40-15 on his own serve, but suddenly the original script returned and a series of bad misses from the Canadian, along with a stunning on-the-run passing shot from Medvedev, handed the break right back.

The back-and-forth nearly continued as Medvedev served for the set, but he saved a pair of break points from 15-40 down before closing it out.

The second set followed a nearly identical script to the first, with Medvedev frustrating the Canadian early and scoring a quick break, having a 15-40 opening to make it a double break, only to miss his break points and then be broken right back.

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This time, Auger-Aliassime held his nerve as he turned a 1-3, 15-40 deficit into a 4-3 lead and he exercised patience while pounding his forehand to keep Medvedev behind the baseline.

As the set went along, the Canadian began to grow in confidence and kept his opponent at bay. However, he was unable to create any more opportunities to break so a tiebreak was required.

Bold play from Auger-Aliassime looked like it would be enough to extend the match as he held a trio of set points at 6-4 and 7-6, but he failed to convert all three including one on his own serve. Facing match point for the first time at 7-8, he sailed a forehand long.

Next up for Auger-Aliassime is the ATP 500 event in Dubai before shifting his attention to the American Masters 1000 events in March.