felix auger-aliassime celebrates winning his match

Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour

Félix Auger-Aliassime is into the third round of the Miami Open following a 6-4, 6-4 victory over France’s Pierre-Hughes Herbert in the Canadian’s opening match of the first ATP Masters 1000 of 2021.

Heading into this encounter, honours were even at 1-1 in their head-to-head. In fact, both of their previous meetings came just last year – the first in Montpellier, where Herbert won a close encounter 7-6(2), 7-5, and their second in Marseille, where Auger-Aliassime emerged as the 6-0, 6-7(6), 7-6(9) victor.

Auger-Aliassime – ten years his opponent’s junior – was granted a bye in the first round in Miami, while Herbert overcame No. 111-ranked Pedro Sousa of Portugal convincingly 6-1, 6-3 in his opening match of the tournament on Wednesday.

To start the match, Herbert and Auger-Aliassime exchanged breaks of serve in what was an evenly contested first set. But it was the Canadian who struck the decisive blow when it mattered most as he clinched another break to jump out to a *5-4 lead before serving out the set comfortably. Auger-Aliassime had nine winners to 11 unforced errors, while Hebert’s ratio was 10:10 showing just how closely matched the two players were.

That late first-set surge clearly gave the Montrealer some confidence as he came out of the traps flying at the start of the second set to take a quick-fire 2-0 lead thanks to an early break. However, Herbert struck back almost immediately to level proceedings at 2-2.

Much like the first set, things stayed level until 4-4, when Auger-Aliassime made his move. On break point, he hit a strong forehand return which Herbert failed to reach. The Canadian then served for the match with little fuss, sealing his victory with a powerful serve which his opponent could only return out of bounds.

Next up for Auger-Aliassime is the winner of No. 18-seed John Isner’s clash with fellow American MacKenzie McDonald, who saw off Canadian Vasek Pospisil in his first-round match.