Felix Seals ATP Tour Title Hat-Trick With Basel Triumph
Neither the Canadian nor Holger Rune had been broken en route to the championship match at the ATP 500 event in Switzerland, but Auger-Aliassime twice unpicked the Dane’s delivery to seal a 6-3, 7-5 victory and lift his third consecutive ATP Tour title.
“It’s been an amazing week,” said Auger-Aliassime after the match. “Once again in the final, not getting broken all week… [It’s been] a long year, a long stretch of wins, and it’s not over. So hopefully I can keep going, but right now I’m feeling all the good emoitons that come with winning a tournament. It’s amazing.”
It was Auger-Aliassime’s 13th consecutive tour-level win, extending his personal-best winning streak. The one-hour, 40-minute triumph also lifted the 22-year-old one spot to sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.
Having now leapfrogged Andrey Rublev, the Canadian’s red-hot form has put him a strong position to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. With seventh the last position to guarantee qualification for the season finale, Auger-Aliassime is now 725 points clear of eighth-placed Taylor Fritz as the player’s head to this week’s Rolex Paris Masters.
Auger-Aliassime is the third player to win an ATP Tour title without dropping a service game in 2022. Taylor Fritz and Nick Kyrgios have also achieved that feat with their triumphs in Eastbourne and Washington, respectively. Rune, who despite his defeat will break the Top 20 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday, acknowledged that the Canadian's delivery had been key.
“I tried to dictate the rally every time I had the chance, and it was very difficult today," said the Dane. "He served probably the best I’ve ever played against, close to the line, so precise, over 200 kilometres per hour.
“It was very tough. I got a couple of break points and he served aces, so I cannot blame myself that I didn’t break him.”
As they had all week in Basel, Auger-Aliassime’s high-powered serving and forehand came to the fore early against Rune. The Canadian did not face a break point in the first set and clinched a decisive break in the fourth game to claim the opener.
Things were not so straightforward in the second set. A fired-up Rune, striking particularly cleanly off his backhand wing, engineered a break point in the second game and two more at 15/40 in the seventh. Yet each time, Auger-Aliassime shut his opponent down with huge deliveries. The Canadian finished having fired 11 aces and won 78 per cent (36/46) of points behind his first serve.
The match was ultimately decided in a gripping 11th game of the second set, as Auger-Aliassime’s baseline hitting piled the pressure on the Rune serve. He finally broke through on his fourth break point to move 6-5 ahead, before he served out to love for his fourth ATP Tour title of the season.
Auger-Aliassime was excited at the prospect of his name joining Roger Federer’s on the list of trophy winners in Basel. The Canadian counts the Swiss great, who was a 10-time champion in his home town, as his childhood idol.
“It’s really cool,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I actually thought about him this morning, and thought how cool it would be if I win here, where he won 10 times. I’m very far from that, but it’s so cool to have my name with all these great champions at this prestigious tournament. Lifting the trophy is definitely going to feel special.”