Felix Survives Varillas Scare, Earns First Roland Garros Win
“It's great. It's such a lovely court,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It's beautiful out there, and so it was really a treat and a pleasure to play on this court. It was disappointing in the match to see how things were going, I really hoped for better.
“But I think that's why I also wanted to really push myself and really try everything…I feel like I left it all on the court. Because this was an important day for me, an important win. I really wanted to get this first one here.”
In a tight match, the Canadian struggled to cope with the World No. 122’s variety and intensity in the first two sets, with the Peruvian visibly pumped on what was his Grand Slam debut. However, Auger-Aliassime managed to turn the tables as he cut down on errors. The ninth seed found more first serves and hit with greater power, forcing Varillas into mistakes to advance after three hours and 13 minutes.
The 21-year-old is making his third appearance in Paris and will next play Argentine qualifier Camilo Ugo Carabelli. Earlier this month, the Canadian reached the quarter-finals at ATP Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome in May.
In their first ATP Head2Head meeting Varillas made a fast start against Auger-Aliassime, quickly finding his range to break immediately. He hit his consistent groundstrokes with depth and precision for the opening 90 minutes, committing just seven unforced errors across the first two sets to take control.
However, Auger-Aliassime refused to go away, raising his level in the third set as he cut down on mistakes and started to take the ball earlier to remove time from the Peruvian, who started to tire.
“Once I got the first break, it was a relief, because I spent two sets without being able to break him,” Auger-Aliassime added. “Then to get that first break, go up 3-1 and then serve well and 4-1, and then I had more belief in me. But I don't think also at any point I lost belief, because I know how I can play, I know what my level is, and I knew that if I hung in there and if I tried to find a way to change things around, I would get my opportunity.”
The Canadian won 100 per cent (12/12) of his first-serve points in the fourth set to level the match, before he gained the crucial break in the eighth game of the fifth set to eventually break Varillas' resistance. He then held serve to triumph, letting out a roar in relief.
After coming through qualifying at a Slam for the first time in his seventh attempt, Varillas was aiming to earn just his second tour-level win of the season and first Top 10 victory of his career. The four-time ATP Challenger Tour champion defeated Facundo Bagnis in the first round in Cordoba in February.
Auger-Aliassime's next opponent, Ugo Carabelli, clawed past Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) in the first men's main draw singles match at Roland Garros to go to a final-set tie-break. The Argentine controlled the tie-break throughout, winning it 10/5.
In Ugo Carabelli's first tour-level match, the 22-year-old took advantage of 84 unforced errors from Karatsev to triumph after four hours and 17 minutes.
The Italian, who reached the quarter-finals in Paris in 2011, downed Australian Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. Fognini will earn his 400th tour-level victory if he can overcome van de Zandschulp.