photo : interia sport
One year ago, Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated Hubert Hurkacz 6-3 7-5 in the first round of the ATP 500 event in Halle, Germany.
This year the 25-year-old from Poland got his revenge defeating the 21-year-old Canadian 7-6(2) 7-6(4). Coming into their quarter-final match in Halle, Hurkacz had not won a set in their two previous meetings.
Auger-Aliassime looked sharp to begin the match serving well and dictating rallies with precise forehands. Through the first four games, Hurkacz required 18 points on serve to just 9 for Auger-Aliassime. Despite two solid return games from the Canadian, the match remained on serve 2-2 with no break point opportunities for either player.
After two routine holds to make it 3-3 in the first set, Auger-Aliassime started the seventh game with a beautiful forehand pass to get to 0-15. From 40-30, Hurkacz made back-to-back forehand errors to bring up the first and only break chance of the match. Once again Hurkacz stayed strong and came through a tough service game to remain in front 4-3.
Auger-Aliassime continued to dominate on serve, losing just five points en route to the tiebreak. The first five points of the breaker went the way of the server until a deep second serve return followed by a pinpoint inside-out forehand gave Hurkacz the mini-break 4-2 at the change of ends.
The 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist reeled off the next three points to steal the opening set 7-6(2).
More of the same in the second set with no breaks of serve, thus requiring another tiebreak. Auger-Aliassime lost only three points on serve in the sconed set to get to 6-6 but dropped the opening point of the breaker with a forehand into the net.
Down 0-2, incredible defense from Felix capped off with a forehand volley got things back on serve. However, he immediately gave the mini-break back with a framed backhand. Surprisingly, the returner won seven of the first eight points. The opening point won on serve by Hurkacz is all he needed to gain the 5-3 edge.
On match point serving 6-4, Hurkacz finished off a lengthy exchange at the net with a forehand volley to the open court. Coming to the net was an effective play for him throughout the match, winning 13 of 19 when he ventured forward.
Auger-Aliassime won more points overall, 76-75, but Hurkacz was the more composed of the two in both tiebreaks.
Hurkacz will face Nick Kyrgios for a spot in the final. It will be the first meeting between the pair.
Meanwhile, Auger-Aliassime wraps up another strong tune-up for Wimbledon with semi and quarter-final showings, improving his overall grass court record to 22-8 (73%).