Photo : Martin Sidorjak/Tennis Canada
That first career win at Roland Garros will have to wait another year for Félix Auger-Aliassime.
The Montreal native was eliminated in the first round of the French Open for the second year in a row on Tuesday, falling to veteran Andreas Seppi in four sets 6-3, 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-4.
He seemed destined to go down in straight sets when trailing by two sets and a break, but managed to rally to take the third set.
However, he could not repeat the feat as a single break of his serve in the fourth set proved decisive.
Consistency proved elusive for the Canadian, who struck 36 winners but also committed 60 unforced errors, while also missing a set point in the second set tiebreak.
The former junior runner-up at the French Open lost last fall to Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets in the first round.
Auger-Aliassime went up 15-40 on the Seppi serve in the opening game of the match, but failed to convert, which proved costly. The Italian grabbed the first break at 3-2 and broke again to take the set as Auger-Aliassime served at 3-5.
The Canadian struggled to find a rhythm in the opening set, committing 12 unforced errors and three double faults, while only winning 36 percent of his second serve points.
The second set did not heat up until late, with Seppi having multiple chances to break in the latter stages.
Auger-Aliassime played some of his best tennis of the match to save break points at 3-4 and 4-5, including three sets points in the tenth game. The Canadian was up to the task, saving all of them with some solid ball striking, including a forehand winner and an ace.
In the very next game, Auger-Aliassime had a few break points of his own to take the lead, but Seppi matched the Canadian’s level and saved them all with some fine shot making of his own.
The opportunity was there for Auger-Aliassime to level the match in the tiebreak when he went ahead 5-2 and had a set point at 6-5 on Seppi’s serve but sent his return long.
Seppi took advantage of the Canadian’s miss, eventually converting his third set point of the tiebreak by blowing Auger-Aliassime off the court with some big hitting and took the breaker 10-8 for a two-set lead.
Defeat appeared to be a forgone conclusion early in the third set when Auger-Aliassime committed four straight unforced errors to give away a break at 1-1.
However, the 20-year-old dug deep and finally started to find the consistency he had been lacking. Combined with a drop in level from Seppi, the door was open and Auger-Aliassime burst through, winning four straight games from 2-4 down to extend the match to a fourth set.
Seppi managed to halt Auger-Aliassime’s momentum by saving a break point in his first service game of the fourth set and then once again got himself a lead by breaking to go up 3-2.
This time, the comeback fell short. The Canadian made one last stand as Seppi served for the match, holding a pair of break points at 15-40, but the Italian stood his ground, saving both before closing out the match by grinding out a monster rally.
In the end, Auger-Aliassime only converted two of 12 break points.
Leylah Fernandez is now the last Canadian standing in singles. She will take on 23rd seed Madison Keys in the second round.