Auger-Aliassime Tames Both Estoril Wind And Taberner

Felix Auger-Aliassime (photo: Millennium Estoril Open)

ESTORIL/WASHINGTON, April 29, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Millennium Estoril Open No. 1 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime needed a set to get on track during his second-round match against 92nd-ranked lucky loser Carlos Taberner of Spain Thursday evening in his Portugal debut. Once the 10th-ranked Canadian did, Auger-Aliassime played some of his best tennis in recent in recent weeks. He tamed both the wind and his opponent to move into his fifth quarterfinal of the 2022 season and second in two weeks.

Auger-Aliassime won 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 over Taberner, whom he had defeated last week in Barcelona in three sets, in one hour and 52 minutes on Estadio Millennium. It was the third time this season that Auger-Aliassime has rebounded to win a match after losing the first set.

The victory, stylishly secured on his fourth match-point opportunity with a confident overhead volley winner, advanced Auger-Aliassime into Friday’s quarterfinal round against No. 8 seed Sebastian Korda of the United States, who prevailed over No. 58 Benjamin Bonzi of France, 6-3, 6-3, in an hour and 21 minutes on his second match-point opportunity. Korda, who is 10-0 in matches this season when he wins the first set, is into his second quarterfinal of 2022.

Auger-Aliassime struck four aces and converted five of 11 break points against Taberner. He outpointed his opponent 74-63.

“It can be very windy here in Estoril,” Auger-Aliassime said during an on-court interview after his 19th victory of the season. “I guess I have to get used to it. At the start of the match – my first match on the Center Court – sometimes, it happens. At times, it was a little bit frustrating. I felt like I could have done better in the first set. Tennis matches are long and you have a chance to recover. That’s what I did. At the end, what matters is how you finish. I’m happy with how I played at the end today.”

Also advancing to the quarterfinals during Thursday’s play was No. 80 Richard Gasquet of France, who eliminated 85th-ranked qualifier Hugo Dellien of Bolivia, 7-6 (5), 6-2, to earn his third quarterfinal berth of the season. Next, the 2015 Estoril champion will face No. 59 Sebastian Baez of Argentina, who upset No. 3 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4. Baez recovered from a slow start and broke the No. 23 Cilic three times in nine tries during the final two sets of the one-hour and 50-minute match. The victory lifted Baez into his third tour-level quarterfinal this season.

Three seeds – No. 4 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain, No. 5 Frances Tiafoe of the United States and No. 6 Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain – plus lucky loser Fernando Verdasco of Spain moved into the last eight on Wednesday.