Photo: camerawork usa
Since his disappointing first-round exit at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, Félix Auger-Aliassime has won five of his last six matches, including a straight-set victory today against Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-2.
Needing three tiebreaks on Monday during his thrilling, first-round contest against Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy, it was fitting that today’s first set needed one too.
In the opening set, with the exception of a few exciting rallies, the servers controlled their games and didn’t allow either player a chance to break. However, the Canadian’s effectiveness on first serves, including six first-set aces, helped him overcome the Spaniard in the tiebreak.
Zapata Miralles, the world No. 116, has had quite a breakthrough year. The 24-year-old Valencia native qualified for his first Grand Slam event at the French Open in June and followed that up by qualifying a few weeks later at Wimbledon. This week, he earned his first Grand Slam win against ageless compatriot Feliciano Lopez 5-7, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The No. 116-ranked Zapata Miralles had a terrific opening set, winning 78 per cent of points on first serve and 79 per cent of points on his second. The bout looked as if it could be a long one, until Auger-Aliassime elevated his game in the second set.
On Zapata Miralles’ opening service game, the Canadian had his first three looks at break. They were fended off by the steady Spaniard, but the court started to tilt in favour of the Montreal native.
Auger-Aliassime eventually broke his opponent three times in the second set and grinded his way – just like his new buddy does on the ice – to a 2-0 set lead.
The start of the third set was more like the first, as the servers managed to control their own service games. However, later on, a tired Zapata Miralles began to struggle as he committed three double faults and gifted Auger-Aliassime a couple of breaks, and eventually lost the match.
It was a much shorter work day for Auger-Aliassime, who needed two hours and 16 minutes to defeat the world No. 116 compared to his four-hour match against Donskoy in the opening round.
The Canadian’s next challenge is against another two named Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut. Auger-Aliassime won their last meeting 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 at the Bett1Hulks Indoors in Cologne, Germany.