Felix Makes Winning Debut In Lyon
The #NextGenATP Canadian, competing at a career high No. 28 in the ATP Rankings this week, saved all five break points he faced to advance after one hour and 48 minutes. Auger-Aliassime is through to the last eight of an ATP Tour clay-court event for the third time this season, having reached the Rio Open presented by Claro final (l. to Djere) and Brasil Open quarter-finals (l. to Djere) earlier this year.
“It feels good [to playing in Lyon]. I've been around the last two years, and seeing people that I've seen before and good memories, it's always good, especially as a young guy on Tour, to be able to come into tournaments and already have good memories of the city. It feels good," said Auger-Aliassime. "I felt from the first steps that I did on the court, I felt like the public was going to be behind me so that was a great feeling.”
In his 30th tour-level encounter of the year (18-11), the 18-year-old will meet Steve Johnson for a spot in the semi-finals. Johnson advanced to his second ATP Tour quarter-final of the season after beating seventh seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-1. The 29-year-old American broke serve on four occasions to level his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Herbert at 1-1.
“Tennis is a weird sport. It's a game of inches, it really is," said Johnson. "In the second set, I had break point and then he hit a let-cord forehand, and then the ball didn't bounce... At the start of the third set, I was able to capitalise on the first break point and then probably shouldn't have broken in the second game, and was lucky enough to do so and then was able to close it out.”
Benoit Paire needed two hours to overcome Mackenzie McDonald 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1. The World No. 51 landed 16 aces and won 78 per cent of first-serve points (47/60) to earn his first victory at the event.
"It was not easy at the beginning of the match. Mackenzie is a good player. He played very flat. It is not easy to play against him, even on clay. That is why I am very happy to win today, because it is never easy to beat Mackenzie. It was a good first round, [I am] very happy to win in three sets and it is good for the preparation for Roland Garros," said Paire.
Paire is aiming to lift his second ATP Tour title of the year, following his run to the Grand Prix Hassan II trophy last month. The 30-year-old will meet Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay for a spot in the quarter-finals.
"I feel good on clay. Honestly, since the beginning of the year, I feel good," said Paire. "I won a tournament. I made the final in an ATP Challenger Tour [event] against [Pablo] Andujar, it was a good match. So, honestly, for me, everything is good."
One service break in each set was enough for Cuevas to reach the second round. The Millennium Estoril Open runner-up (l. to Tsitsipas) took 83 minutes to eliminate eighth-seeded Pole Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4.
French wild card Corentin Moutet saved two match points to edge Reilly Opelka of the United States 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(10) in two hours and 14 minutes. Moutet now plays second seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.
“I tried to do my best on his serve, which is difficult to return,” Moutet told ATPTour.com. “I was trying to put the ball back on return. I had two match points on my serve and I missed it, so mentally it was tough. I had great support from the crowd. It’s always special playing in front of a French crowd.”
Did You Know?
Auger-Aliassime is the youngest player to be ranked inside the Top 30 in the ATP Rankings since Lleyton Hewitt (No. 22) in 1999.