Felix Defeats Kyrgios In Queen's Club Serve Showdown
Felix Auger-Aliassime weathered tweeners, underhand serves and body dives from Nick Kyrgios to advance on Thursday at the Fever-Tree Championships. After 35 combined service holds, the eighth seed got the lone break he needed to reach the quarter-finals 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 7-5.
The epic serving battle was the second match of the day for both men. Auger-Aliassime defeated Grigor Dimitrov earlier in the day 6-4, 6-4, while Kyrgios moved past Spanish lucky loser Roberto Carballes Baena 7-6(4), 6-3.
The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime is the youngest Queen's Club quarter-finalist since Marin Cilc (18) in 2007. He's looking to become the youngest semi-finalist here since Lleyton Hewitt accomplished the feat at age 18 in 1999. Should he reach the final or win the title, he would be the second-youngest in the Open Era to do so. Boris Becker (17) holds the record for both with his 1985 title run.
The Canadian moves to 6-1 in his first professional grass-court season. He’s taken an immediate liking to the surface, which gives his already potent serve and forehand even more velocity. The Canadian hasn’t dropped serve this tournament and has fired 95 aces in his past five matches.
Next up for him is a #NextGenATP battle with top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who also scored two wins on Thursday over Kyle Edmund and Jeremy Chardy. Auger-Aliassime won their lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting this March at the BNP Paribas Open.
Kyrgios is still looking for consistent form in what has been a mixed season. The World No. 39 defeated Rafael Nadal, John Isner and Alexander Zverev en route to prevailing this March in Acapulco, but has gone a combined 5-9 in his other events this year.
There were no break points in the first two sets of the match. Auger-Aliassime couldn’t convert on a 2/0 lead in the first-set tie-break, but remained in firm control throughout the second-set tie-break on the back of strong forehands and timely trips to the net.
Meanwhile, Kyrgios remained true to his unconventional on-court style. Underhand serves were followed by flashy forehand winners and even a body dive in the first set that wasn’t exactly necessary.
Kyrgios slipped in the opening game of the final set and took a medical timeout for treatment on his hip. He appeared to recover quickly and delivered the shot of the week at 4-3 in the final set, hitting a volley winner between his legs from the baseline that left the crowd stunned.
But while Kyrgios’ hip didn’t hamper him, his shot selection did. Serving to stay in the match at 4-5 in the final set, Kyrgios hit an underhand serve that Auger-Aliassime promptly smacked away for a winner. Although the Aussie held, a casual tweener hit right at Auger-Aliassime at 5-6 allowed the Canadian to knock off a volley winner and set up match point. He made good on the opportunity to advance in two hours and 14 minutes.