Felix Reaches Maiden SF In Rio
#NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime continued to create new milestones in his young career on Friday at the Rio Open presented by Claro. Two days after reaching his first 500-level quarter-final, the wild card defeated Spaniard Jaume Munar 6-4, 6-3 for his first ATP Tour semi-final in Rio de Janeiro.
“This is what I work for every day. It’s what I get up for every morning,” said Auger-Aliassime. “As soon as I walked on court, I felt the energy from the crowd and felt like I couldn’t get tired. The tournament isn’t over yet, but this feels great.”
The Canadian was undaunted by the occasion on Quadra Guga Kuerten and sprinted to a 4-1 lead in the first set. Munar began to sink his teeth into the lengthy baseline rallies, but the deficit proved too much and Auger-Aliassime grabbed the early advantage.
It appeared the 18-year-old would coast to victory after breaking Munar in the opening game of the second set, but the Spaniard hung tough and earned the break back at 2-3 with the help of a net cord. Munar reached 40/0 on his serve in the next game, but Auger-Aliassime found a new gear and dominated the remainder of the contest. A forehand winner on his first match point ended play after one hour and 38 minutes.
Auger-Aliassime finished with 32 winners and 34 errors, compared to seven winners and 18 errors for Munar. The wild card’s baseline aggression allowed to him accumulate 10 break points and convert on four of them.
The World No. 104 in the ATP Rankings started the week by recording his first Top 15 win over second seed Fabio Fognini of Italy. Auger-Aliassime is guaranteed to make his Top 100 debut on Monday and land at least inside the Top 80. He will crack the Top 50 if he can win the title on Sunday.
Awaiting Auger-Aliassime in the next round is Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, who held off a mid-match surge from Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain to prevail 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 30 minutes. The 2016 champion improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head over Ramos-Vinolas to 7-1 and has won their past six matches.
Cuevas has been in the top form, having reached the semi-finals at the Cordoba Open (l. to Pella) and quarter-finals at the Argentina Open (l. to Thiem). Four of his six ATP Tour singles titles have come during the Golden Swing.
Laslo Djere of Serbia continued to back up his first-round upset over top seed and 2017 champion Dominic Thiem by defeating #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-4, 7-5. Djere trailed 2-5, 0/30 against the qualifier in the second set, but rallied to win 20 of the final 28 points. The 23-year-old will look to reach his first ATP Tour final on Saturday.
Standing between him and that achievement is Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, who fought back to defeat qualifier Hugo Dellien of Bolivia 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Little separated the two players, who saw 10 of their 27 games reach deuce, but Bedene controlled the tempo in the latter stages to prevail in two hours and 23 minutes.