The No. 1 Court on the last Manic Monday brought a really special moment for Felix Auger-Aliassime. The 20-year-old Canadian reached his first Slam quarterfinal after beating #4 seed Alexander Zverev in a five-set battle, 6-4 7-6(6) 3-6 3-6 6-4, lasting over four hours.
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Alexander Zverev
Early in the match, Zverev took the initiative by breaking Auger-Aliassime’s serve in the fifth game. At 2-4 came the first big moment from the Canadian, saving three break points in a crucial six-deuce game that would have seen Zverev serving for the set had he won it. That hold gave Auger-Aliassime confidence as he rallied to win four games in a row and take the first set 6-4.
The 20-year-old stumbled again at the beginning of the second set, giving away a break. From there though, Auger-Aliassime kept his service games short and kept the pressure on Zverev until he broke back for 4-4. The set went to a tiebreak, with the Canadian taking the first minibreak and a 4-1 lead. The German broke back for 4-4 and had a set point at 6-5, which the Canadian saved. Auger-Aliassime won the next three points and took the set 8-6 in the tiebreak.
Zverev seemed to injure himself early in the third set, his knee buckling as he slid after a ball, though he was ultimately fine. The German was playing better after that, serving better and being more dominant in rallies, which resulted in a break for 4-2. Before Zverev could serve the set out though, rain struck, and the match had to be paused while the roof was closed and the grass was dried. This did not hinder Zverev as he served out the third set to love, 6-3.
The fourth set was more of the same, two breaks from Zverev, one in the first and one in the last game of the set. Meanwhile, his own serve did not come under threat a single time. Things were looking bleak for Auger-Aliassime, as everything suggested that Zverev was well on his way to one of his five-set comebacks.
The fifth set was different though, after not earning any looks on Zverev’s serve in the past two sets, Auger-Aliassime managed to break the German right away. The young Canadian then had three break points at 2-0 to go up a double break, but he could not take them and instead got broken back to love. Auger-Aliassime got his lead back as he broke Zverev for 4-3 and was not threatened by Zverev again, winning the final set 6-4.
On to the Quarterfinals
Next up for Auger-Aliassime will be seventh seed Matteo Berrettini, who beat Ilya Ivashka 6-4 6-3 6-1.
Throughout his young career, Auger-Aliassime’s results have often been compared with those of compatriot Denis Shapovalov. The narrative around Auger-Aliassime became one of slight disappointment. Despite all of his achievements at a young age, his record in finals is becoming quite concerning (0-8 without winning a set), and Shapovalov’s rise has been more flashy with a title, a Masters 1000 final and four semifinal appearances, and a quarterfinal at the 2020 US Open. This quarterfinal feels like a real breakthrough for Felix Auger-Aliassime, one that we will look back at for years to come.
Embed from Getty Images