Indian Wells, March 15 (IANS) Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada fought off six match points to edge American player Tommy Paul 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6) and set up a quarterfinal clash with world no. 2 Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the Indian Wells Open here.
With the stunning victory, Auger-Aliassime has now reached the quarters at each of the past six ATP Masters 1000 events, including his current run. He has advanced to that stage at seven of the nine Masters 1000s on the calendar, with Monte Carlo and Shanghai the lone exceptions.
“I always stayed positive, I kept my hopes up, I kept thinking, ‘OK, I’m not that far, I can come back’,” Auger-Aliassime was quoted by ATP tour website. “At the end, when you’re down 0/40 on your serve, you know that…’OK if I win this first one, serve well, then again, then again, we’re back on even terms.’
“You just kind of take it one by one. It’s very cliche to say but it still works; that’s the proof. I’m really happy to get through. It’s a crazy feeling.”
In his first ATP head-to-head meeting with the surging American, Auger-Aliassime was battling from behind all evening, dropping the first set and trailing 0-3 in the third. After levelling the decider at 3-3, he stared down three match points at 0/40 while serving at 5-6.
Behind some timely big serves, the 22-year-old won five straight points to force a tie-break. But some inspired play from Paul brought up three more match points at 6/3 after he scored five straight points of his own.
Yet another five-point run ended the match, with the Canadian erasing the last of the six-match points on return at 5/6.
Before the Auger-Aliassime takes on Alcaraz in the quarterfinal, he team up with countryman Denis Shapovalov in Wednesday’s doubles quarterfinals.