Felix Books Zverev Clash In Monte-Carlo
Herbert moves past former finalist
Mark your calendars! #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime will face World No. 3 Alexander Zverev at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters after battling past Juan Ignacio Londero 7-5, 7-6(5) on Tuesday.
"It was a tough match. He already won a title this year. I played against him in South America, and he had victory after victory, so I knew it was going to be difficult. And it was," Auger-Aliassime said. "But I'm very happy to win my first match after Miami, because I didn't know what to expect after Miami. But I felt from the beginning I was having a good feeling."
Auger-Aliassime recorded his 15th tour-level victory of 2019 (15-7) after one hour and 58 minutes, winning 88 per cent of first-serve points (38/43). Despite failing to convert three match points heading into the second-set tie-break, the Canadian claimed victory on his fourth opportunity as Londero fired a backhand return into the tramline.
"It wasn't easy, because he was fighting until the end, and he raised his level of tennis at the end of the match," Auger-Aliassime said. "But I just had to keep on working, keep on looking for any chance, and I managed to win. That was very important."
The World No. 33 has already risen 75 spots in the ATP Rankings this year, following a semi-final run at the Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Isner) and a runner-up finish at the Rio Open presented by Claro (l. to Djere).
Auger-Aliassime will be aiming to defeat a Top 10 player for the second time at an ATP Masters 1000 event this season. The 18-year-old stunned reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas at the BNP Paribas Open last month.
"I think this is a good opportunity [to play Zverev]. He's the one who is more or less the leader of the new generation of tennis players," said Auger-Aliassime. "It's been a while since he's been around, so he has got lots of experience already."
"So for me, this is going to be a great opportunity to play against him and to see how I do against him. I believe in my tennis. I am going to try to do my best, and I'm very hopeful that I will adjust my play to his. I'm going to try to dictate the game."
Shortly after saving three break points at 5-5 (0/40) in the second set, the ninth seed moved up the court and fired a backhand down the line to avoid defeat at 5/6 in the tie-break. Bidding to reach back-to-back Masters 1000 quarter-finals, following his run to the last eight in Miami (l. to Auger-Aliassime), Coric will meet last year's finalist Kei Nishikori or Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the third round.
Herbert recorded his first victory in four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Fernando Verdasco, defeating the 2010 finalist 6-4, 6-4.
"I'm very happy for the result today," said Herbert. "This is my fifth match on this surface [at all levels] this season, and probably this match was the most accomplished one, the best I have played so far... I'm really happy because I have never won against [Verdasco]."