© Bildagentur Zolles

Felix Auger-Aliassime takes a 2-0 lead in his ATP Head2Head series with Cameron Norrie.

Felix Saves 3 MPs In Vienna, Beats Norrie In Critical Match For Race

Canadian into first Vienna quarter-final

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime made a spirited comeback that could prove critical in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin on Thursday in the second round of the Erste Bank Open.

Auger-Aliassime saved three match points en route to a 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 victory against Briton Cameron Norrie in a battle between two players pursuing a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals. The sixth seed rallied from 3/6 in the second-set tie-break to triumph after two hours and 36 minutes.

"I just really had in my mind that I couldn't go away easily. I wanted to push him to really beat me and deserve it in the second set," Auger-Aliassime said. "He did well. I was down three match points. In a way, I was lucky. He was so close to winning, I just hit a crazy passing shot on match point to save it, so sometimes the margins are small. That was the case today, so I'll take it."

Norrie, who won his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells earlier this month, began the week in 11th place in the Race, just five points behind 10th-placed Jannik Sinner and 115 points behind ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz, who holds the final qualifying spot for Turin because eighth-placed Rafael Nadal is out for the season due to a foot injury. 

Hurkacz lost in the first round in Vienna, leaving the door open for a surge by the likes of Norrie and Sinner. But Auger-Aliassime, who began the week in 12th place, 625 points behind the Pole, had other plans. 

"That was an important win to stay in the Race. I think if I lost that match, the odds would have been very tough for me to qualify," Auger-Aliassime said. "It keeps me alive in the Race, but the road is still very long."

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The 21-year-old saved three consecutive match points in the second-set tie-break with fearless play. His most stunning shot came at 4/6, when he hit a perfect backhand passing shot that was too good for the net-rushing Norrie.

The eight-time ATP Tour finalist, who had not won a match in two Vienna appearances before this week, then broke his opponent at love in the fifth game of the decider and never looked back. Auger-Aliassime will face second seed Alexander Zverev or Australian Alex de Minaur in the quarter-finals.

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