Felix Takes Short-Cut Past Evans
The ninth-seeded Canadian brought his top level to his third-round clash, overpowering Briton Daniel Evans 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 in one hour and 53 minutes Saturday on John Cain Arena.
“It’s definitely one of the best Grand Slam performances I’ve had,” said Auger-Aliassime after the match. “It was a tight first set, I was fortunate to get that break point to serve out and after that for some reason everything was working for me today. I’m really happy because the first two matches were really tough for me, so I’m happy to be through in straight sets.”
The Canadian had battled through a five-set thriller with Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori in his opening clash in Melbourne, before spending more than four hours fighting past Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.
His opponent on Saturday couldn’t have had a more different path to the third-round meeting. World No. 24 Evans gave up just seven games in a one-hour, 48-minute first-round win over David Goffin, and then received a walkover in the second round after Arthur Rinderknech withdrew with a wrist injury.
It was another short afternoon for Evans, but not in the way he would have wanted. The extra time off court appeared to have done the Brit no favours and he struggled for rhythm as Auger-Aliassime showed off the tools that took him to a first major semi-final at the US Open in September.
The Canadian hit 40 winners as he broke his opponent six times on his way to a comfortable victory. He edged a tight first set by seizing his only break point opportunity and it was one-way traffic from then on. Evans seemed to lose concentration to concede an early break in the second set with a double fault, and his opponent made him pay. Auger-Aliassime finished with 16 aces and won 91 per cent (39/43) of points behind his first serve, piling the pressure onto Evans’ service games.
The World No. 9 was delighted to continue his strong start to the year, having captained Team Canada to ATP Cup victory earlier in January. The win takes the 21-year-old to the fourth round in Melbourne for the second year in a row.
“I feel great, I feel like I deserve the place I’m in,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I’ve worked really hard to get here. I’ve had some great matches but some downs as well. I’ve put in the work in the off-season, and I’ve had a great start, so I feel like I deserve to be here again in the fourth round. The start of the year has been wonderful, so I’ve got to try and keep it rolling.”
Auger-Aliassime next faces either fifth seed Andrey Rublev or former World No. 3 Marin Cilic. The Canadian has never beaten either player before, holding an 0-3 ATP Head2Head record against Cilic and trailing Rublev 0-2.
“Either way it’s going to be a great opportunity for me to test myself and see where my game is at,” said Auger-Aliassime of his fourth-round prospects. “I’ll be watching [the Rublev v Cilic match] on my couch, so it’s good to be through and waiting for my opponent.”