Photo : Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
This Friday, Félix Auger-Aliassime took on the courts against World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas for a quarter-final encounter at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. It was not to be for the Montrealer, though, as the in-form Greek put up a sensational performance in a 6-3, 6-3 decision after one hour and 22 minutes.
Both players were coming off opposite results last week, where the Canadian lost in the first round and the Greek went on to win the tournament, both in Monte-Carlo, an ATP Masters 1000 event. It was Tsitsipas’ first title at that level. Auger-Aliassime was looking to snap a three-match losing streak against the 2020 Roland Garros semi-finalist, now with the help of supercoach Toni Nadal. Tsitsipas now leads their head-to-head at 4-2.
In the Barcelona quarter-final matchup, the Montrealer had his chances in the first set, failing to take the early lead as Tsitsipas saved a trio of break points at 1-1. The 22-year-old picked up his level right after, breaking Auger-Aliassime to love in a shaky service game to lead 3-2. Despite the break, the No. 10 seed kept up with the Greek, and maintained a good performance, hitting his potent forehand and moving well.
However, it was the No. 2 seed who came up with the best tennis when needed at 5-3, hitting a spectacular backhand down the line to generate another break point, this time also a set point. Tsitsipas converted it for a one-set lead, 6-3, as Auger-Aliassime mishit a forehand, his 11th unforced error in the set to just eight winners.
Into the second set, Auger-Aliassime had a brief scare in his first service game, going down 15-30 after hitting a double-fault. Showing great fight, the World No. 20 prevented the early deficit with an inch-perfect forehand down the line, which landed right on the baseline corner. The in-form Tsitsipas was not to be denied, however, breaking the Canadian at 2-1. His performance showed his current confidence and athleticism on clay, producing amazing shots to outfox the Canadian and constantly finding the lines with his forehand.
The Greek kept things under control to serve out the match with an ace at 6-3, 6-3 maintaining a perfect eight-match and 15-set winning streak, started in Monte-Carlo last week, now going deep on the Catalonian clay.
Tsitsipas goes on to face another 2000’s-born player in the Barcelona ATP 500 semi-finals, Italian superstar Jannik Sinner. Auger-Aliassime will now prepare for the Madrid Masters, which starts on May 3rd for the ATP Tour.