Felix Extends Winning Streak, Defeats 'Idol' Tsonga In Marseille
Felix Auger-Aliassime extended his winning streak to six matches on Thursday at the Open 13 Provence, moving past French wild card and childhood idol Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(2), 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals in Marseille.
The Canadian captured his maiden tour-level title in Rotterdam last week and backed up that impressive run with a solid display against the former World No. 5. Auger-Aliassime fired seven aces and won 83 per cent (33/40) of his first-serve points to triumph after one hour and 45 minutes in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.
Following the match, the pair embraced at the net in what was a memorable and emotional moment for Auger-Aliassime.
“It was a special moment,” Auger-Aliassime said. “When the match was coming to the end, I knew it was going to be a special moment, a full-circle moment. He was my top idol growing up and I saw myself in him at times.
“The other great players I couldn’t relate to them. They seemed they were from another planet but Jo seemed like a big brother. I told him how much he was my idol when I was growing up and he told me to aim for the stars and not be shy and I can go to the top.”
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The third seed, currently at a career-high No. 9 in the ATP Rankings, is now 13-3 on the season, after also advancing to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in January. The 21-year-old helped guide Canada to the ATP Cup title and has earned Top 10 wins against Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2022.
Auger-Aliassime reached the final in Marseille in 2020 (l. to Tsitsipas) and will next face World No. 49 Ilya Ivashka.
Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas booked his spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 7-6(4) triumph over Frenchman Hugo Gaston. The Greek fired 13 aces and raised his level in the second-set tie-break to advance after one hour and 31 minutes.
The World No. 4 is now into the last eight for the third time this season. He is aiming to clinch his maiden tour-level title since he lifted the trophy in Lyon in May. The 23-year-old next plays Roman Safiullin.
The Russian qualifier clawed past Czech qualifier Tomas Machac 6-7(6), 6-4, 7-6(4) after two hours and 45 minutes. Safiullin clinched ATP Cup victories over Arthur Rinderknech and James Duckworth at the start of the season.
In other action, Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi advanced to the last eight at a tour-level event for the first time. The 25-year-old, who clinched six ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2021, downed Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 6-3 in 87 minutes. Fourth seed Aslan Karatsev awaits next.