ATP Finals – “He won with composure”: Reinvigorated, Auger-Aliassime knows what he needs to do to reach the semifinals

No need for a calculator or an advanced degree in probability. While a place in the Masters semi-finals can sometimes be decided by the number of games won, the scenario for the green group on this final day of the group stage is crystal clear. On Thursday evening, the winner of the match between Félix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz, both newcomers to the competition, will join Casper Ruud in the last four and continue to believe in his beautiful star. A duel with the knife and under tension is announced and it is difficult to identify a clear favorite.

Judging by the overall impression since the start of the tournament, the American should be a step ahead. Notable against Rafael Nadal for his entry into the race, on Tuesday he saw victory slip away against Casper Ruud (6-3, 4-6, 7-6) by playing very good tennis. Fritz also won the only match against “F2A” in the ATP Cup at the start of the season (6:7, 6:4, 6:4). But that data could very well be nullified in a match with such an stake, a real quarterfinal.

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The swoon of Nadal, the composure of Auger-Aliassime: the game recap

Winning against Rafa to stay alive gives me a lot of confidence

And the dynamic speaks more for the Canadian. Unlike Fritz, he doesn’t stay on a frustration but on a success, of prestige besides against a racing monster. “I rate this win really highly. She is special. I’ve now beaten all members of the Big 3, that’s true‘ he said at a press conference.

Before adding:But against Roger (Federer) it was in the 2nd round of an ATP 500, additionally during the Covid period (Behind closed doors in Halle, editor’s note), it wasn’t the same tension. It was different against Novak (Djokovic) in the Laver Cup: I absolutely had to win for the team, and that was at the O2 Arena in a full stadium, so it was a great moment. And staying there against Rafa to stay alive in the tournament is a very fine achievement and a game I will remember for a long time. It’s never easy against a player of this caliber. It gives me a lot of confidence.”

Auger-Aliassime has not lacked confidence in recent weeks, having won three tournaments in three weeks on hard courts (Florence, Antwerp and Basel) before going into half-time in Bercy. But at the Paris Masters 1000, Holger Rune had put an abrupt end to his streak of 16 wins, and incidentally the Canadian’s first and rather unexpected defeat in Turin by Ruud had confirmed that setback. His match against Nadal, “F2A”, therefore approached him with some doubts, which did not prevent him from clearly seeing his opponent’s weaknesses.

Too fast, too powerful, too precise: how Rune choked Auger-Aliassime

When you go on the pitch against a player like him, you say to yourself, “What if he’s playing fantastic the way he can and he’s too strong?” There is always uncertainty. As the game started I felt better and better. Of course, the fact that he didn’t have many matches behind him helped. I felt like at a certain point he lost a bit of confidence in his abilities. Compared to his current level, which obviously isn’t his best, it was an opportunity to capitalize on. And then I had to take revenge on myself, especially over the match that I narrowly missed in Paris (Loss in 5 sets in the round of 16 at Roland-Garros, editor’s note)” he continued.

Listening, patience and work: the method bears fruit

Winning against Nadal, regardless of form, is a cure for many ailments. If a grain of sand slipped into the beautiful Canadian mechanism, it has probably been expelled since Tuesday evening. Félix Auger-Aliassime still made a few avoidable mistakes against the Mallorcan and had to throw away five breakballs, but he also adapted better to the playing conditions in Turin in this second match. He noted significant improvement in backhand and recovery, areas worked on in practice following his loss entry. And that might just make the difference in this electric quarterfinal.

Because if the Canadian has made progress on a plan in recent months, it’s in managing his emotions and his weapons. And who better to talk about it than the one who has been hatching it (part-time) at the circuit for more than a year and a half: Toni Nadal. “He gained composure and better ball control. Previously he had very good shots but his tennis was a bit lacking in control. He could play well, but now it’s stable. He certainly lost the other day, but he didn’t play bad tennis. That’s what the best players in the world do. His average level has increased‘ greeted Rafael’s uncle, who, contrary to what had happened at Roland-Garros, showed up in the pits of ‘F2A’.

Perfect debut for Ruud: the best moments of his win over Auger-Aliassime

Toni Nadal: “In New York he could not be top 5 with this setback”

And Toni Nadal for clarification: “I’m used to being open and saying things directly. Felix is ​​a very nice guy, very polite. He played pretty badly at Barcelona and I spoke to him afterwards. When the conversation ended, he thanked me. In New York I told him that with this setback he couldn’t hope to become a top five player because he had let him down too many times, he had to improve it. Since then he’s had a very good time beating Alcaraz, Djokovic, Rune.”

On Thursday against Fritz, there is still a lot at stake with serve and return on the fast center court of the Pala Alpitour. Both Auger-Aliassime and his American opponent play aggressive tennis and are perfectly fine with it. Therefore, the ability to get the best out of yourself despite what is at stake should be key. And on this little game, the Canadian might give more guarantees. Still have to prove it.

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The swoon of Nadal, the composure of Auger-Aliassime: the game recap

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