Italy Tournament | Auger-Aliassime held back in trench warfare

Impressive since the start of the week, Félix Auger-Aliassime met Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals in Rome on Friday. The Quebecer offered a sizeable opponent, but the best player in the world eventually won in straight sets 7-5, 7-6.

Updated yesterday at 6:13pm.

Nicholas Richard

Nicholas Richard
The press

The two players have never faced each other before. There was therefore no story or reference. Probably a good thing for Auger-Aliassime who had his chances. After all, Djokovic stumbled over the defeat to 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid last week. The Serb was therefore fallible and the Quebecer has already proven he can compete with players of this caliber.

Despite having had a difficult season since winning the title in Rotterdam in February, the 21-year-old athlete had shown great things on Italian clay.

He continued this momentum from the first set. Auger-Aliassime never seemed intimidated or impressed by Djokovic’s height. The match was hard fought up to 4:3 for the favorite. However, the world number one managed the first break of the set. Still, you had to know the FAA poorly to think he’d let himself be pushed around. Winner of 20 Grand Slam titles served for the set, it was Auger-Aliassime who broke his opponent.


PHOTO ALBERTO LINGRIA, REUTERS

Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory

The only other break in the set was crucial, at 6-5, as the Quebecer made three unforced errors in the final game, including a missed drop shot that seemed to affect him. The Serb got the first set.

Nevertheless, it is a self-confident Félix Auger-Aliassime who is fully in possession of his means and has emerged from this first round with the certainty of being able to match the Djoker’s level of play or even surpass it at times. Everything worked except for his second serves, which Djokovic returned with power and precision.

The second round was similar to the first.

Auger-Aliassime put on a great show and inspired play early in the set. His demeanor on his first serves was stunning and certainly worthy of the best players in the world.

The match took a different turn when it was tied 3-2. From that moment Djoko sat in the car. Still, the FAA was relatively effective in that regard, securing three break points with an ace, a serve volley sequence, and a serve winner. However, the fourth was good for the Serb.

The Quebecer tried to survive for the rest of the set and he got a boost on serve at 5-2 when he saved the match point with a huge forehand serve from Djokovic and then broke it 5-3 in the next game.

Both attackers made the tiebreak. They offered a spectacle of gigantic quality. trench warfare. Like in the Colosseum. Sensational variety of shots. Breathtaking journeys. The clay court let these two gladiators slide at will.

Djokovic’s experience and bite proved him right in this high-intensity duel. The game was played with few things, ended with thunderous applause and a hug between the two players. Djokovic had just found an opponent his size and his name is Félix Auger-Aliassime.

Dabrowski, only Canadian to pass


PHOTO OLIVIER JEAN, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

Gabriela Dabrowski

Three other Canadian players were in action in Friday’s quarter-finals in Rome.

In women’s doubles, Gabriela Dabrowski was the only representative of the Ahornblatt to make it to the semifinals with a 7:5, 2:6, 10:5 victory with her partner, the Mexican Giuliana Olmos. The duo are looking to win a second consecutive title after the one in Madrid last week.

In the morning Bianca Andreescu faced a big challenge: Iga Świątek. The top ranked player and winner of four consecutive tournaments is the player to beat on the circuit right now. The Canadian held her end admirably in the first set but let it slip when the score was 7-5. Świątek won the next by shutout.

For his part, Denis Shapovalov was extremely competitive against Norway’s Casper Ruud, fifth seed. The Canadian was very solid and uninhibited despite a difficult season and the fact that he was up against one of the best on clay. He eventually lost the match in straight sets 7-6, 7-5.

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