© Henk Koster

Felix Auger-Aliassime celebrates on Tuesday, but doesn't have things all his own way against Jan-Lennard Struff in Rotterdam.

Felix Recovers In Rotterdam

Canadian star sets up Dimitrov test in second round

Felix Auger-Aliassime fought hard to reach the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament second round on Tuesday when he beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 in just under two hours. The Canadian hit 16 aces, but did well to bounce back from losing five straight games in the second set. He broke serve at 2-1 in the deciding set and will next challenge 2018 Rotterdam runner-up Grigor Dimitrov, who overcame eighth seed Denis Shapovalov on Monday.

“It was really tough, there was so many emotions running through my head,” World No. 21 Auger-Aliassime told ATPTour.com. “I felt I had chances in the first game of the second set, with the overheard, and so many chances to make the break. It was really frustrating.

“It led me to lose focus in the second set and get broken twice, which isn’t ideal for me or normal. In the third set, it was about forgetting and moving forward. I’m really happy, it’s a really good lesson and a great win to come back after losing the set so badly.”

Last year, the 19-year-old advanced to three ATP Tour finals and moved from No. 108 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 17 on 14 October.

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In his fourth appearance at the ATP 500 event, Karen Khachanov eliminated fifth seed Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-3 to record his first win in Rotterdam. The World No. 17, who opened his 2020 ATP Tour season with four wins from five matches at the inaugural ATP Cup, improves to 7-3 this year.

“I think I was one out from being seeded, and we’re not so far away in the [FedEx ATP] Rankings, so it’s always tough to play against guys like that, especially in the first round,” said Khachanov. “Everything was under control and I trained well after Melbourne, worked hard and now I am waiting to get [as many] matches as possible to get rhythm.”

Khachanov landed seven aces and converted four of seven break points throughout the 79-minute contest. The 23-year-old moves into a 2-1 lead in his ATP Head2Head series against Fognini, having also beaten the Italian in three sets at last year’s China Open.

Khachanov will face Daniel Evans of Great Britain for a place in the quarter-finals. Evans advanced to the second round on Monday after a straight-sets victory against Philipp Kohlschreiber.

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