Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Thrilling Dominic Thiem Test

Felix Auger-Aliassime at the French Open

World No. 30 Felix Auger-Aliassime survived a scare in his first round match at the Australian Open, as he took out Dominic Thiem 6-3 7-5 6-7(5) 5-7 6-3. Both players, who hadn’t played their best tennis last season, desperately needed this win. Yet, while only one player could step off the court with then victory, the match featured vintage tennis from both players. Auger-Aliassime’s victory lasted an impressive four hours and 59 minutes, in fact the longest match of his career.

Felix Auger-Aliassime def. Dominic Thiem

Auger-Aliassime started the match out well, hitting 24 winners to 17 unforced errors during the first two sets to lead 6-3 7-5. Thiem struggled on the return, only breaking serve once during the first three sets. The Canadian continued to take control of the proceedings, and led 6-3 7-5 6-6 (5-2) before Thiem fought back valiantly. Thiem won five consecutive points to claim the tiebreak and third set, hitting a forehand volley winner to seal it. His groundstrokes were gradually improving in pace and quality.

The fourth and fifth set featured vintage attacking tennis from both sides. Notably, Thiem’s backhand was on fire during the second half of the match, using his down-the-line backhand to surprise the Canadian. But Auger-Aliassime continued his strategy of playing first-strike tennis, ending points quickly and avoiding drawn out rallies.

After Thiem won the fourth set 7-5, firing up the Margaret Court Arena crowd, his level dipped slightly. Auger-Aliassime took advantage, breaking in the second game of the fifth set, and never looked back. He only lost four points on serve during the rest of the fifth set, winning 94 percent of points off his first serve.

While the level of the match continued to stun fans, it seemed too tall a task for Thiem to break the Canadian’s intimidating serve. Auger-Aliassime eventually hit his 28th forehand winner of the match to seal the match at 1:48am. Both players hit a combined 111 winers during the match.

What’s Next?

The Canadian No. 1’s victory salvaged what was otherwise a poor day for Canadian tennis. Denis Shapovalov’s comeback continued to suffer setbacks, as he fell in straight sets to Jakub Mensik. Even worse, Milos Raonic’s injury struggles continued to hinder his bets tennis, as he had to retire against Alex De Minaur in the primetime Rod Laver Arena match on Monday night.

Auger-Aliassime’s victory means he’ll face Hugo Grenier in the second round. Grenier also had to battle in a five-setter thriller in the first round, as he took out countryman Alexandre Muller for his first ever Australian Open win. Due to the Australian Open first round now lasting three days, both players will get an extra-day off to recover and rest for their match on Thursday.

“It was a great level, a great match,” Auger-Aliassime said on court after the match. “I started well, and then it’s a sport… I didn’t want to disappoint myself with my effort. I didn’t want to have any regrets leaving this court today.”

Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports


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