LONDON, June 21, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime ousted the top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the quarter-final of the Fever-Tree Championships in Queen’s on Friday. The eighth seed won 7-5, 6-2 in an hour and 38 minutes.
On paper, the result will be termed an upset. However, given the 18-year-old has always had the measure of his older-by-two-years peer right from their junior days, the result looked inevitable. Although the World No. 6 did his best to overturn his negative head-to-head against his rival. But as it turned out, it was a match that was divided into two halves. Or rather, the first and second sets.
The first set remained on serve until the 12th game when Auger-Aliassime broke the deadlock to convert the set points he had to lead in the match. Tsitsipas’ game broke down entirely in the second set despite him getting five break point chances to turn tables on his opponent. The first came in Auger-Aliassime’s opening service game, in the set’s first game. The others in the fifth game while he was down 1-3 in the set.
Right before this crucial game, while still down 0-3, the 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist took a medical time-out (MTO) treat his right shoulder. His resistance post the MTO lasted just the spate of that one game, and his inability to make good of his opportunities weighed him down for the rest of the match.
Despite his defeat, Tsitsipas had nothing but appreciation for his rival in the post-match press conference. “I wouldn’t be surprised (if he wins Queen’s Club),” Tsitsipas said.
“I think he can win Grand Slams…He has the whole package to play big, to beat – I’m sure if he ever gets the difficult chance to play (Rafael) Nadal, (Novak) Djokovic, or (Roger) Federer, he’s going to beat them, for sure. I will not be surprised if he gets wins over those guys. We will definitely see him in the top-5. Maybe not this year but next year or the year after. I would expect something like this.”
Meanwhile, the Montreal native became the youngest player since 18-year-old Lleyton Hewitt at the 1999 edition of the tournament to reach the second-last round at Queen’s. That year, the Australian lost to the United States’ Pete Sampras.
“Amazing day yesterday beating two top players. Again beating Stefanos [today], who is one of the toughest opponents to play this year and he’s going to be in the years to come for sure, so many positives for me,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I feel I can go all the way here.”
In the semi-final, Auger-Aliassime will next take on Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who rallied past Canadian Milos Raonic, winning 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5).
Feli’s feelin’ it at #QueensTennis 🤩
He’s back into the semi-finals again!
— ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) 21. Juni 2019
In the bottom half of the draw, France’s Gilles Simon and Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev set a semi-final clash against each other. Simon ended countryman Nicolas Mahut’s showing in their quarter-final 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(3) in three hours and 20 minutes. According to ATP’s statistical data, this was the fourth-longest best-of-three setter played in 2019.
Lastly, Medvedev stopped Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman on his tracks with a 6-2, 6-2 win in 76 minutes.