Photo: camerawork usa
Inside a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday night, Félix Auger-Aliassime dueled American Frances Tiafoe for a spot in the US Open quarter-finals. Both players reached the round of 16 at the event in 2020 and looked to go one better tonight.
After four hard-fought sets, Auger-Aliassime came out on top and defeated the red-hot Tiafoe 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-4 to reach back-to-back Grand Slam quarter-finals.
It was the first meeting between No. 12 seed Auger-Aliassime and World No. 50 Tiafoe. They were both coming off of long, five-set thrillers on Friday night – the Canadian defeated Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut while the American upset No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev.
Tonight, Auger-Aliassime had the most gas left in the tank.
The first set, according to most statistics, should have been won by Auger-Aliassime. But, it was the American who captured it as he converted on 1/2 break points and saved all eight break points he faced.
Auger-Aliassime cruised through his service games – other than the rusty first – while Tiafoe needed much more time in his own services games to hold.
It was a frustrating first set for the No. 12 seed as he had break point opportunities in four of Tiafoe’s service games but couldn’t find the extra gear to capitalize on any.
Auger-Aliassime kicked off the second set in better fashion, holding to love in two of his first three service games.
As the Canadian began to regain his rhythm, the New York crowd gradually began to quiet down. The American had trouble matching Auger-Aliassime’s firepower and was broken in the sixth and eighth game.
Auger-Aliassime’s winners to unforced errors ratio in the second set was an impressive 11/4 while Tiafoe was 4/8. The Canadian also won 93 per cent of first-serve points – a ridiculously effective number.
In the third set, the servers managed to win their games without much difficulty – until a highly entertaining and emotion-filled tenth game.
With pressure on his serve, Tiafoe faced two set points but was able to fend both off – with the help of the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium – including an ace and a missed forehand by Auger-Aliassime. Tiafoe eventually escaped unscathed and added a blazing 139 mph ace while he was at it.
Tiafoe then saved another set point in the 12th game to send the third set to a tiebreak.
In the tiebreak, a Tiafoe forehand painted the line behind Auger-Aliassime and earned the American the first mini break. But Auger-Aliassime didn’t let up, got the mini break back, and served brilliantly to capture the tiebreak 8-6.
The final set was decided in the all-important second game.
After Auger-Aliassime broke Tiafoe’s serve in the opening game, Tiafoe had three chances to break back in the second game. However, he failed to convert on all three, giving the Canadian all of the momentum he needed to close out the match.
The Canadian didn’t give Tiafoe anymore break point opportunities and clinched the victory in the 10th game.
Auger-Aliassime now faces 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz Garfia of Spain on Tuesday. The Spanish phenom made history on Sunday night as he became the youngest player in the Open Era to reach the men’s singles quarter-finals at the US Open.