It has been quite the year for Félix Auger-Aliassime, who won the ATP Cup in January and his first singles title at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament last month. Heading into Indian Wells, the Canadian had the most year-to-date wins on the ATP Tour with 15, tied with none other than 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.
Looking to add to that number, Auger-Aliassime faced world No. 47 Botic van de Zandschulp on Court 4 in the Tennis Paradise. Auger-Aliassime, now ranked ninth in the world, won their only previous meeting 6-4, 6-3 in the quarter-finals of the Stockholm Open in 2021. Today, things didn’t play out the same way as they did in the Swedish capital, as the Dutchman pulled off the upset win in three tight sets, 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-3.
Both players were struggling to find their first serves in the early goings of today’s contest. In the first set, van de Zandschulp only kept 58 per cent of first serves in play, while Auger-Aliassime was slightly worse at 55 per cent. This led to some break point opportunities in the opening frame – the Dutchman converting in the third game then Auger-Aliassime in the sixth. In the tiebreak, a costly double fault from Auger-Aliassime gave the Dutchman the 5-3 lead. That’s all van de Zandschulp needed to clinch the first set.
In the second set, after getting the first break in the seventh game, Auger-Aliassime had a chance to serve for the set in the 10th game. But, a subpar service game from the Canadian gave van de Zandschulp a chance to tie it up, which he did on his first break point opportunity. In the 12th game, now serving to stay in the match, Auger-Aliassime quickly found himself down 40-15 to the red-hot Dutchman. Remarkably, Auger-Aliassime fended off three match points and rode that wave of momentum into the tiebreak, claiming it 7-4.
Despite Auger-Aliassime regaining his rhythm late in the second set, he was broken to love in the first game of the decider. He had a chance to strike back in the third game, but van de Zandschulp stood tall and didn’t allow the world No. 9 to level the set. In the ninth game and on his fifth match point opportunity, van de Zandschulp hit a gorgeous volley to wrap up the three-hour and 15-minute contest. It was the Dutchman’s second win over a top-10 player in his career.
Shapovalov and Fernandez win in doubles
Yesterday, Denis Shapovalov and Leylah Annie Fernandez rallied from a set down to win their opening singles matches. They didn’t need to stage incredible comebacks today, as they both won their doubles matches with more ease.
Shapovalov and usual partner Rohan Bopanna of India won their match against Bruno Soares of Brazil and his Brit teammate, Jamie Murray, by a score of 7-6(4), 6-4.
Fernandez and Alize Cornet of France defeated Laura Siegemund and Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 3-6, 10-2.