Felix Auger-Aliassime hits a backhand.

Photo : @atptour

For the first time since 2018, Félix Auger-Aliassime did not advance to the final of his first grass-court tournament of the year as he was upset by Dutch wildcard Tim van Rijthoven in a three-set semi-final at the Libema Open.

The Dutchman, who is competing in his first tour-level event since 2016, was able to match the world No. 9 serve-for-serve and survived a mid-match surge from Auger-Aliassime, hanging on for a 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(5) victory.

Van Rijthoven’s serve proved too much for Auger-Aliassime, who only had three break points in the match. The first serve kept the Canadian in the match, as he won 83 percent of those points but only 54 percent of his second serve points.

There was very little between the two men early in the match as the servers cruised, combining to lose just three points in the first five service games.

It was Auger-Aliassime who blinked first, struggling in the sixth game and sending a forehand long on what proved to be the lone break point of the opening set to give van Rijthoven the only break he needed to take the opening set.

Auger-Aliassime quickly turned things around in the second set, seemingly figuring out the Dutchman’s serve as he broke twice as part of a five-game run from 1-1 to send the match to a deciding set. The Canadian won 50 percent of his opponent’s service points in the second set, while only dropping six on his own delivery.

Van Rijthoven refound his serving rhythm in the third set and quickly squashed his opponent’s momentum. Twice in the set Auger-Aliassime found himself down love-40 on his own serve and won five straight points to hold, but he failed to create a single break point against his opponent’s serve.

One point ultimately decided the match. In the third-set tiebreak, tied at 3-all, van Rijthoven ripped a forehand out wide, drawing an error from the Canadian to take the minibreak. It would be the only point to go against serve in the breaker as the Dutchman converted his third match point, after Auger-Aliassime saved two on his own serve, to reach his first ATP final.

Auger-Aliassime will compete next week in Halle. He reached the semi-finals last year, beating Roger Federer on route.