© Rio Open/FotoJump

#NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime defeats Pablo Cuevas on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro to reach his first ATP Tour final.

Auger-Aliassime Advances To First ATP Tour Final In Rio

#NextGenATP Canadian to face Djere in battle of first-time ATP Tour finalists

The dream week continues for #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The 18-year-old had not reached an ATP Tour semi-final before this tournament, but Auger-Aliassime on Saturday upset Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to make his first tour-level final at the Rio Open presented by Claro. The teenager is the youngest ATP 500 finalist since the level was established in 2009.

"It's unbelievable. It's so surreal. I always believe in myself but honestly, today, I had a slight chance to win I felt because Pablo is an unbelievable player. He won the tournament here, he's really experienced," Auger-Aliassime said. "But from the start, I felt good. After the first set I was like, 'Okay, I'm going to have a chance in this.' I'm really happy."

Youngest ATP 500 Finalists (All Lost)

 Player  Tournament  Age
 Alexander Zverev  2016 Halle  19
 Alex de Minaur  2018 Washington  19
 Stefanos Tsitsipas  2018 Barcelona  19
 Milos Raonic  2011 Memphis  20
 Alexander Zverev  2017 Halle  20

The youngest ATP 500 champion is Alexander Zverev, who triumphed in Halle less than two months after his 19th birthday. Auger-Aliassime has won four ATP Challenger Tour titles, and, at age 14, he became the youngest player ever to win a main draw match at a Challenger.

Auger-Aliassime will face Serbian Laslo Djere on Sunday in a battle of first-time ATP Tour finalists. Djere moved into the championship match when Slovenian Aljaz Bedene withdrew due to a right leg injury. Djere had lost his previous three ATP Tour semi-finals.

"It's going to be a tough match. I haven't played Laslo, but I've seen what he's been doing," Auger-Aliassime said. "It's going to be a battle again, and we'll see the outcome."

Auger-Aliassime showed signs of nerves while serving at 4-2 in the decider, launching a forehand well long to give Cuevas his first break opportunity of the set. But the Canadian stayed calm and Cuevas made errors on the next three points to let Auger-Aliassime off the hook.

Watch Live

The 18-year-old appeared ready to confidently close out the match when he took a 40/0 lead on his serve at 5-3, but Cuevas played tremendous defence to put ball after ball in the court, making the Canadian beat him. At 40/30, Auger-Aliassime was unable to put away two overheads, adding to the tension. But Auger-Aliassime would not be denied, hitting a forehand swinging volley for a winner two points later to earn the biggest victory of his career after two hours and five minutes.

"That was the craziest thing that's ever happened to me. I played three unbelievable points to start [that game]. I didn't play bad either in the other points. It was just about finishing," Auger-Aliassime said. "I guess that's what happens when you're about to reach your first final."

The World No. 104, who will crack the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday, landed 88 per cent of his first serves in the third set. He saved five of the seven break points he faced against Cuevas, a six-time ATP Tour titlist.

Did You Know?
Before this event, Auger-Aliassime had made just one ATP Tour quarter-final, last year in Chengdu. There, as a lucky loser, Auger-Aliassime lost to Bernard Tomic in straight sets.