Next Gen star Felix Auger-Aliassime is a win away from winning his maiden title on the ATP Tour after defeating former champion Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, in the semi-finals of the Rio Open.
The 18-year-old wild card stunned his more experienced opponent with a powerful display consisting of 30 winners and nine aces. At one set all, it was a sole break in the decider that secured the win for Auger-Aliassime. Leading 1-0, a Cuevas backhand landed out to hand the teenager the break for 2-0. Allowing Auger-Aliassime to battle towards the finish line after just over two hours of play.
“It feels great, the match was pretty tough, pretty complete today, I felt good from the start and thought I could have a shot to win.” The world No.104 told reporters afterwards.
“I was feeling my shots well and serving well too. But then he came back strong at the second set and I felt a lot of pressure from him. And then in the third set I came back strong again, I was able to break him early and then hold my serve. It was tough to finish when you’re so close to the line but I managed to stay calm and got the job done.”
As a result of his latest win, Auger-Aliassime has become the youngest player to reach the final of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced back in 2009. The previous record was held by Alexander Zverev, who reached the final of the 2016 Gerry Weber Open at the age of 19.
Earlier in the week, the rising star recorded his best ever win in terms of ranking. Stunning top 20 player Fabio Fognini in the first round of the tournament. He has also scored wins over Chile’s Christian Garin and Spain’s Jaume Munar.
“It’s been great. Every time you have a breakthrough as a young guy it’s a special moment and all the environment is important and from the first day I felt good in Rio, from the hotel I’m staying at, the places I’ve seen and the energy from the people. That’s really strong and I strongly believe that it has pushed me to where I am today, this week, and maybe I can give one last push with the support of the crowd tomorrow.” He said.
Auger-Aliassime has been tipped as a future star in the sport since his teenage years. At the age of 14 he qualified for the main draw of a Challenger event for the first time. He is a former US Open boys champion and is one of the youngest players of all time at win a Challenger title at the age of 16 years and 10 months. In total, he currently has four Challenger titles to his name.
“It’s something I’ve dealt with for a few years now. You just have to manage it, work on that and focus on what you have to do every day,” Auger-Aliassime told atptour.com. “For me, [winning the] title or not [winning the] title is not the most important thing today [for me], because at the end I want to have a successful career, every year. I don’t want to be remembered for just a final or just a title when I was 18.”
8 August 1981: Roger Federer is born
February 2000: Roger Federer reaches first ATP final
8 August 2000: Felix Auger-Aliassime is born
February 2019: Felix Auger-Aliassime reaches first ATP final
— Oleg S. (@AnnaK_4ever) February 23, 2019
In Sunday’s final Auger-Aliassime will take on Serbia’s Laslo Djere, who knocked out top seed Dominic Thiem in the first round. The former junior Orange Bowl champion will be contesting his first ATP final at the age of 23. Djere moved into the final after Aljaz Bedene withdrew from the tournament due to a leg injury.
“Felix is a young and very talented player. I watched him a few times, he’s been playing really well, has a big serve, big forehead. But I think I’m ready and prepared and I’ll do my best. Hopefully I can win my first final here in Rio,” Said Djere.
Djere currently has two Challenger trophies under his belt and has featured in the main draw of six grand slam tournaments. Currently at a ranking high of 83rd in the world, he paid tribute to the support he has received from his family over the years.
“It wasn’t easy getting here. It’s really tough to become a professional tennis player, it doesn’t matter if you’re from Serbia or any other place. Conditions where I practiced were not ideal and I struggled a lot to get where I am today. When I was 15 mom was diagnosed with cancer, which was really tough for me, and she passed away two years later. And I lost my dad last December also to cancer. It’s not easy to be here at 23 not having parents, but I’m thankful for my younger sister and my girlfriend. I just want to make them proud.”
Regardless of the outcome of the final, Auger-Aliassime will break into the top 60 for the first time. Should he win the title, he will crack the top 50.
Bank account quickly grows for 🇨🇦 Felix Auger-Aliassime…Guaranteed $185,325 for reaching his first ATP Tour Final…If he wins in Rio he will collect $369,000…His career earnings coming into this week $415,924 #ATP #RioOpen
— John Horn (@SportsHorn) February 24, 2019
Canada beats Italy 2-1 in the opening day of the Davis Cup in Madrid
Denis Shapovalov battled past Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-5) in a hard-fought second match of the round-robin Group F at the Davis Cup in Madrid to give Canada a 2-0 lead over Italy
Berrettini faced three break points in the third game of the opening set. Shapovalov earned two break points in the ninth game, but Berrettini held on his serve at deuce. Both players held on their service games. In the 10th game Berrettini earned three set points on return, but Shapovalov fended them off. Barrettini saved another break point to set up a tie-break. Shapovalov took a 6-3 lead earning three set points. Berrettini won two consecutive points to claw his way back to 5-6, but Shapovalov sealed the tie-break with a backhand passing shot.
Both players went on seve setting up a second tie-break. Berrettini got an early mini-break, but Shapovalov broke straight back. Berrettini took another mini-break to take a 3-2 when Shapovalov hit a volley into the net and sealed the second set 7-3 on his first set point.
Shapovalov earned a break point in the fifth game of the third set with a forehand winner. Berrettini held on his serve with his 11th ace. Both players went on serve in the next games setting up a third tie-break. Berrettini got the first mini-break to take a 4-3 lead after a double fault from Shapovalov. The young Canadian player broke straight back, when Berrettini made a forehand volley error. Shapovalov sealed the tie-break 7-5, when Berrettini fired his forehand long on his first match point after 2 hours.
“After making semifinals in the Madrid Mutua Open here, and winning the Junior Davis Cup in 2015, I feel like Madrid is a really good city for me. We will see how this week goes, but it’s a good step today”, said Shapovalov.
Fognini and Berrettini won the doubles match over beating Shapovalov and Pospisil 6-2 3-6 6-3. The Italian team got a double break to win the first set 6-2. Shapovalov and Pospisil drew level by winning the second set with a break in the eighth game. Italy saved two break points in the seventh game of the decisive set before breaking serve in the eighth game. Berrettini sealed the win for Italy with an ace.
Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claim their first ATP Finals title in London
The French team formed by Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claimed their first men’s doubles title with a 6-3 6-4 win over Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus in 70 minutes at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London ending the 2019 ATP season on a high note with back-to-back titles in Paris Bercy and London. They remained unbeaten during the whole week at the ATP Finals in London winning all five matches in straight sets.
Herbert and Mahut fended off all four break points they faced scoring their ninth consecutive match win. The French doubles specialists have become the first team to win the doubles ATP Finals title without dropping a set since Jean Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in 2015.
Herbert and Mahut fended off break points in the third game of the match before earning the only break of the opening set in the next game. The Frenchmen saved a break point in the sixth game before breaking serve in the seventh game.
They have become the French team to win the ATP Finals doubles title since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro, who triumphed in Shanghai in 2005.
Herbert and Mahut have won 15 doubles titles as a team during their career. This year they became the eighth men’s doubles team to complete the career Grand Slam at last January’s Australian Open and also won the Rolex Paris Masters in front of their home fans.
Last year they came within one point of winning the ATP Finals title against Mike Bryan and Jack Sock after holding a match point.
“Thank you Nicolas for sharing the court, for having so much enjoyable moments and giving me so much joy, when I am with you on the court. You played an unbelievable final, so thank you for that”, said Pierre Hugues Herbert.
Jannik Sinner wins his third ATP Challenger in Ortisei
Jannik Sinner won the ATP Challenger in Ortisei adding another title to his impressive collection of trophies he lifted during a memorable 2019 season.
The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion beat world number 173 Sebastian Ofner from Austria 6-2 6-4 in 1 hour and 6 minutes in the final of the Sparkasse Challenger Val Gardena Sudtirol at the Tennis Center in Ortisei.
Sinner won his third ATP Challenger title in 2019 after his previous wins in Bergamo and Lexington. He also reached the final in Ostrava. During the tournament the 18-year-old player from San Candido beat Lucas Miedler in the first round, Roberto Marcora in the second round, Federico gaio in the quarter final and Antoine Hoang in the semifinal without dropping a set.
Sinner will improve his ranking to his career-high at world number 78 in the ATP Ranking becoming the sixth best ranked Italian player after Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini, Lorenzo Sonego, Marco Cecchinato and Andreas Seppi.
Sinner broke serve in the fifth game of the opening set to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner missed two game points in the seventh game. The Austrian player faced another break point after his third double fault. In the next game Sinner saved the first break point he faced. Sinner closed out the first set 6-2 after two backhand errors from Ofner in the eighth game.
Sinner went up a break to open up a 2-0 lead, but Ofner broke back in the fourth game and held on his serve to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner saved three break points in the seventh game to take a 4-3. Sinner converted his fourth break point in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and served out the win with two consecutive aces.
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