Sarah-Jade Champagne/Tennis Canada
On Wednesday night, hometown hero Félix Auger-Aliassime (6) dazzled an IGA Stadium packed to the rafters to advance to the third round of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers.
In complete control and serving with accuracy, power and determination, he disposed of Washington finalist Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 7-6 (6), 6-4 in a match that lasted exactly 2 hours, 7 minutes and 5 seconds.
The World No.9 hit 17 aces (none for Nishioka) and posted only one double fault and an exceptional 90% first-serve percentage in his near-perfect match.
With the exception of his difficulties converting break points (2 out of 13), he thrilled the crowd with his first-rate play.
“I had chills and felt a lot of emotion when the stadium was amped up,” he said. “I’m happy to have won in front of this crowd. It’s not something I feel anywhere else.”
In the first set, Auger-Aliassime was broken at 2-2 but broke back in the next game. The hostilities came to an end in a tiebreaker, which the Quebecer won on his fourth set point with a magical shot.
When the second set got underway, Félix had five break points he was unable to convert and had to wait until 2-2.
He ended the battle with an ace that perfectly captured the match itself.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “I’ve lost to him several times, and he’s not an easy player to play against. For sure, with the seeds gone, I hope to still be here on Sunday. It won’t be easy, I know that.”
On Thursday, Félix Auger-Aliassime faces Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, who defeated him in Washington.
The end for Rublev
The stateless delegation has officially departed from Montréal. Andrey Rublev (5) lost to Briton Daniel Evans in a 91-minute duel that ended in two identical sets (6-4, 6-4).