Auger-Aliassime bumps slump to beat qualifier at Barcelona Open
Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev qualified for the ATP Finals after Taylor Fritz and Hubert Hurkacz, the other contenders for the two remaining spots, lost in the second round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.
The eighth-seeded Auger-Aliassime outlasted qualifier Mikael Ymer 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (6) to next play wild-card entry Gilles Simon, who overcame the ninth-seeded Fritz 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.
Auger-Aliassime saved 14 of 17 break points and converted four of five to extend his winning streak to 14 matches.
Fritz failed to convert three set points on Simon’s serve at 5-4 in the opening set. The American also failed to convert any of the three break points he had at 3-2 in the final set. He made 36 unforced errors to 16 for Simon, who is ranked 188th and plans to retire after this event.
Teenager Holger Rune stunned the 10th-seeded Hurkacz 7-5, 6-1 to meet Rublev, who reached the third round on Tuesday.
Before the Paris Masters, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had already qualified for the eight-man tournament in Turin from Nov. 13-20.
Alcaraz, Tsitsipas, Alex De Minaur and Lorenzo Musetti also advanced to the third round in Paris, while Nadal’s 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 loss to Tommy Paul raised questions about his fitness in his first singles match since the US Open.
The second-seeded Nadal made 19 unforced errors to 18 for Paul and dropped serve three times in the final set, almost looking resigned.
“At the end, I need days on the tour,” Nadal said. “It’s true that for the last five months I didn’t spend enough days on the tour. I don’t even say competing on a tennis court. I say on the tour. Practicing with the guys. That’s what I need.”
Paul next plays Pablo Carreno Busta, who edged Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-4.
De Minaur upset fourth-seeded Medvedev 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 to next face Frances Tiafoe, who defeated Jack Draper 6-3, 7-5.
De Minaur beat Medvedev for the first time in five meetings.
After rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the final set, De Minaur failed to convert his first two match points at 5-4. He hit a return out on the first match point and made an unforced error on the second.
But the Australian player got two more opportunities at 6-5. Medvedev saved the third match point with a service winner before double-faulting on the fourth and angrily throwing his racket to the ground.
“I’m glad I played a very tactical match,” De Minaur told Tennis Channel. “I just tried to wait for my right ball and just back myself and back my volley. It’s something that I tried to implement a lot more. I don’t do it as often as I would like, but I’ve got some decent volleys.”
Medvedev, who acquired the Paris Masters in 2020 and was runner-up last year, dropped serve in the first set by overhitting a smash in the final game. But the Russian player capitalized on unforced errors by De Minaur to break twice in the second set.
The top-seeded Alcaraz downed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-4 to rack up more points in his chase for the year-end No. 1 ranking.
Alcaraz lost a break in the eighth game but hit a forehand pass on the run to break again for a 5-4 lead before grabbing the first set with a forehand winner.
The Spanish player whipped another forehand winner to take Nishioka’s serve at 4-4 in the second set.
Alcaraz hit 30 winners to seven for the Japanese player and will next play Grigor Dimitrov, who dispatched lucky loser Fabio Fognini 6-0, 7-5.
The fifth-seeded Tsitsipas defeated Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-4 to lead the ATP Tour with 58 wins this year.
Tsitsipas raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set. He then hit a forehand winner across court to break Evans in the opening game of the second, before converting his first match point with an ace.
“I’m happy with the level of tennis I brought when I had to,” Tsitsipas said. “I was moving well, I was dictating well. I combined everything, including my defense, the transition to offense. I was serving well, I was very calm in important moments, and it paid off.” Musetti defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2 to next face the third-seeded Ruud.