Felix Survives Opening Test At Australian Open
Chasing his first win of the season, the Canadian recovered from a slow start to overcome countryman Vasek Pospisil 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 in three hours and 59 minutes.
The sixth seed Auger-Aliassime, who struggled at times to find his best level against the World No. 99, now leads Pospisil 4-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. The 22-year-old will next meet Alex Molcan after the Slovakian clawed past 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka 6-7(3), 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.
“He is a good friend and great teammate,” Auger-Aliassime said. “We recently had some amazing memories together. Winning the Davis Cup two months ago. It is always tough to play a good friend. He came out firing, playing really well. On my part it was a bit of a struggle but it is ok. It is a first round, it happens. I am just happy I was able to get back into this match.”
In front of a lively crowd on John Cain Arena, Pospisil flew out of the blocks. The 32-year-old hit through Auger-Aliassime with his weight of shot and moved forward effectively, winning 82 per cent (9/11) of net points in the first set to soar ahead.
Despite the early setback, Auger-Aliassime quickly recovered. The World No. 7 returned with greater depth as the match went on, pinning Pospisil deep behind the baseline with his penetrating forehand. The 22-year-old also began to find the feet of the onrushing Pospisil with more consistency, forcing his countryman into errors in the second and third set tie-breaks to move ahead.
Auger-Aliassime then wore Pospisil down in the fourth set, pulling him from corner to corner to advance.
“It was a rough start,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But the match is long and I was trying to stay positive. Being in situations like this before I am able to stay more calm and composed and tried to have positive thoughts. It was up and down. It was a tricky match and I am happy to get through.”
The 2022 Australian Open quarter-finalist Auger-Aliassime is chasing his maiden Grand Slam title this fortnight in Melbourne. He arrives at the first major of the season off the back of a career-best season in 2022, when he won four tour-level titles.