Felix Ends Cilic's Run, Sets Medvedev Clash

Canadian will next face World No. 2 Medvedev

Felix Auger-Aliassime is showing no signs of panicking under pressure.

The World No. 9 recovered from a slow start to reach his third consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final with an impressive 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-2, 7-6(4) win over 27th seed Marin Cilic at the Australian Open on Monday afternoon.

The 21-year-old Canadian, who is making his third appearance in Melbourne, was delighted after securing his first victory in four attempts over Cilic in three hours and 39 minutes on John Cain Arena.

“It puts my self-belief even higher,” Auger-Aliassime said in his on-court interview. “This was my first win against him, at an important moment like this. I told him at the end of the match, he’s a champion, the way he handles himself, the way he plays, so he’s going to come out with his best level and test me and make me earn my win. I’m really relieved and happy to get through, especially the way I did it.”

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Cilic had recorded a straight-sets victory in the pair’s last meeting, the final in Stuttgart in 2021, and looked confident of producing something similar early on, breaking Auger-Aliassime twice to ease to the first set.

The Canadian has already had to show plenty of fight in Melbourne, however, coming back to win in five sets against Emil Ruusuvuori, and he had to bide his time again against the 2014 US Open champion after the World No. 27's fast start.

“He was hitting so clean at the start of the match,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I played one poor game at 4-2 but the rest of the set I think he was just playing better than me, doing everything better. The second was tight, but that was a crucial turnaround. You can’t afford to go two-sets-to-love down, that would have been tough, so that was a crucial moment and then in the third I started feeling better and better.”

Auger-Aliassime needed to find a way to stop his opponent’s momentum, and he did so by staying solid off the ground as the Croatian’s level began to drop. Cilic made just 45 per cent of first serves across the second and third sets as the World No. 9 won them both.

Despite hitting only 38 winners to the powerful Croatian’s 61, ATP Cup-winning captain Auger-Aliassime stayed in control on serve, hitting 22 aces and facing no break points in sets two, three and four. His consistency was enough to outlast the Croatian as he reached a third consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final.

With his victory, Auger-Aliassime has improved his ATP Head2Head series against Cilic to 1-3. The 21-year-old now faces World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the last eight after the Russian beat Maxime Cressy 6-2, 7-6(4,) 6-7(4), 7-5. Medvedev leads Auger-Aliassime 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, but the Canadian says he feels physically ready for the challenge.

“I’m feeling good,” said Auger-Aliassime. “It was quite hot at the start, the sun here in Australia hits you pretty hard. It’s still early in the day, I’m going to have time to recover before I play again on Wednesday, so it’s the perfect scenario.”

Auger-Aliassime, whose best result at a major was a run to the semi-finals at the US Open in September, is now 7-2 on the season. The eight-time tour-level finalist has won five of the six tie-breaks he has played at the Australian Open this year.

Did You Know? 
Following Denis Shapovalov's victory against Rafael Nadal on Sunday and Auger-Aliassime's win over Cilic, it is the first time multiple Canadian men have reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.