© Paul Zimmer/MercedesCup

Felix Auger-Aliassime saves nine of the 10 break points he faces to beat Lloyd Harris on Thursday in Stuttgart.

Felix After Stuttgart Win: 'If It Happens To Federer, It Can Also Happen To Me'

The #NextGenATP Canadian will next play sixth seed Humbert

Felix Auger-Aliassime had to ride a roller-coaster of momentum on Thursday at the MercedesCup, but the last wave went in the #NextGenATP Canadian’s favour.

Despite letting slip an opportunity to serve out the match against Lloyd Harris and later facing two set points against him, Auger-Aliassime beat the South African 6-3, 7-6(4) to reach the quarter-finals in Stuttgart.

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“It’s not often you serve for the match with two match points and you lose it. But I remember Federer’s final [at] Wimbledon two years ago and I thought to myself, ‘Well if it happens to him it can also happen to me, and I can try to find a way to win,’” Auger-Aliassime said. “We’re humans and it’s normal that sometimes the nerves get to us closing out a match. It was difficult for me at 5-4 to try to settle down again and find a way to get a good level and win the second set. But I think I did well.

“I’m happy the way the match ended. I think the most important is to win the last point of the match, so I did that, I played a great tie-break, so I can be happy with how I finished. And now I have an opportunity to fight for another win tomorrow.”

Two years ago, Auger-Aliassime reached the Stuttgart final, the Queen’s Club semi-finals and the third round at Wimbledon. The 20-year-old was happy to make a winning start to his 2021 grass-court season against a dangerous opponent in Harris, against whom he saved nine of the 10 break points he faced. Next up will be sixth seed Ugo Humbert, who beat wild card Yannick Hanfmann 7-6(9), 6-2 earlier in the day.

“It was a good way to start for me. In the end, the most important is to find a way to win and to try to go to the next round and keep going in the tournament,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I always feel comfortable on the grass, I think it suits my game well. Hopefully I can keep on winning and go really far this week and in the upcoming tournaments as well.”

Top seed Denis Shapovalov took the early lead against Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, but was unable to close out the match before rain suspended match for the evening. They will resume on Friday with the score tied 6-2, 6-7(2). The winner will play former World No. 3 Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals.

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