Photo : Gabriel Monnet | Daniel Kopatsch
For a moment on Wednesday, it looked like Félix Auger-Aliassime’s incredible run of form had come to an end.
While one of his streaks was snapped in his opening match at the Paris Masters, the Canadian still found a way to battle back from the brink to claim his 14th consecutive win, beating Mikael Ymer in three sets.
Down a set, a break, and facing break points for 1-5 in the second set, Auger-Aliassime managed to find his way to turn the match around for a 6-7(6), 6-4, 7-6(6) victory.
It was far from the clean, dominant play seen from Auger-Aliassime over the last three weeks, as he committed 36 unforced errors, although he balanced them out with 45 winners. He faced more pressure on his serve than he had in previous week, dropping serve for the first time in eight matches and facing 17 break points overall, of which he saved 14.
Coming into the event having held serve 86 times in a row, Auger-Aliassime was playing with fire right from the start as he had to save break points in each of his first three service games.
He settled in and started to turn the tables on the Swede, holding a break point to claim the set at 5-4, but he sent a routine mid-court forehand long. That miss proved costly as he played from behind throughout the first-set tiebreak which Ymer eventually won 8-6.
Auger-Aliassime’s streak of holding serve finally came to an end in the fourth game of the second set when the Canadian double-faulted to set up a third break point in the game, ninth in the match, and the Swede hit an incredible on-the-run forehand passing shot winner. It was the first time Auger-Aliassime had been broken since the quarter-finals of Antwerp, having held 93 straight games.
Ymer looked well on his way to ending the Canadian’s winning streak too when he held to take a 4-1 lead in the second set and held two more break points to serve for the match, but that’s when Auger-Aliassime found another gear.
With his back against the wall, the Canadian managed to save both break points and hold serve to kick off a run of seven games in a row that saw him claim the second set and then break to start the third, taking a 2-0 lead.
However, Auger-Aliassime could not put the Swede away. Ymer broke back to level the set at 2-2 and then managed to reclaim another break to level after the Canadian moved ahead 4-2.
The tiebreak saw both men hold minibreak leads. Auger-Aliassime was two points from seeing his streak end at 4-5, but back-to-back big serves gave him a match point. Ymer saved it with a passing shot that clipped the net cord, but after a forehand winner from the Canadian gave him a second look, the Swede overhit a second serve return to give Auger-Aliassime win No. 14.
Thanks to Gilles Simon’s upset of Taylor Fritz later on Wednesday, Auger-Aliassime also qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time in his career. He will meet Simon on Thursday in the third round.