Kecmanovic Wins #NextGenATP Battle Against Felix
Nineteen-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, the youngest player in the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings, has gotten a lot of the attention in recent months as he has ascended into the world’s Top 30. But the second-youngest player in the Top 100 got the better of him at the Western & Southern Open on Monday.
Fellow #NextGenATP star Miomir Kecmanovic ousted the Canadian 6-3, 6-3 to reach the second round in Cincinnati. One year ago this week, the Serbian qualifier was World No. 200. Now, the teenager is on the verge of cracking the Top 50 for the first time.
"It definitely means a lot. It’s a big win for me. I needed this mentally just to know that I can be here and play with these guys, so I think it’s going to help for the upcoming matches," Kecmanovic said. "I felt pretty good on the court and played solid, so hopefully I can keep it up."
The World No. 58 rode service dominance to victory, as the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya finalist did not face a break point in his one-hour, four-minute triumph. The two-time ATP Challenger Tour titlist lost only three first-serve points (26/29), and he broke on three of his four opportunities.
Entering the season, Kecmanovic had never won a main draw match at an ATP Masters 1000 tournament, but this was his fifth victory at this level in 2019. All 17 of his tour-level wins have come this season.
Kecmanovic will next challenge reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev. The Serbian, who made the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in March at Indian Wells, is pursuing his first win against a Top 10 opponent.
The first American man in action in Cincinnati fell short, as Frenchman Lucas Pouille beat qualifier Denis Kudla 6-3, 7-6(6) in one hour and 39 minutes. Pouille withstood 10 aces and broke serve four times to set second-round clash with No. 10 seed Fabio Fognini or #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
Another American had better fortune, as wild card Sam Querrey squeaked past Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-6(2), 7-6(1) after one hour and 38 minutes behind 18 aces. Querrey will next face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, whom he defeated in their most recent FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at 2016 Wimbledon (Djokovic leads series 8-2).
Qualifier Pablo Carreno Busta, a former Top 10 player, worked hard to dismiss Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-5, 7-6(4). The Spaniard, who triumphed in two hours and 18 minutes, will next play American No. 1 John Isner, who eliminated Serbian Dusan Lajovic in three sets on Sunday evening.
No. 12 seed Borna Coric led wild card Reilly Opelka 6-4, 3-6, 4-3 when play was suspended late Monday evening due to rain. That match will resume third on Center Court, with the winner to play #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur.
Did You Know?
This was the first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting between Kecmanovic and Auger-Aliassime. However, they played at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Lyon, France last year, with Felix winning in straight sets. At the time, both #NextGenATP stars were ranked outside the Top 150.