Auger-Aliassime fights to win the semi-final in Marseille

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Aiming for his second title in as many weeks against Russian Andrey Rublev at the Open 13 Provence on Sunday.

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Félix Auger-Aliassime, who won his first ATP Tour event last week, will be looking for his second title on Sunday when he faces Andrey Rublev in the final of the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

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The 21-year-old Montrealer fought for two hours and 23 minutes to defeat Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in Saturday’s semifinal.

“Today was complicated, as I expected,” Auger-Aliassime said at a post-match press conference. “Safiullin has played well this year so far and I think he will be even better in the future.”

Safiullin, a 24-year-old latecomer who burst onto the scene as a last-minute substitute for the Russian squad at the ATP Cup last month, has made life difficult for third-seeded Auger-Aliassime.

Nerves got the better of Safiullin and he was broken in the opener of the game. He tied it at 3-3 when he beat Auger-Aliassime in a marathon match, but not before the third-seeded Canadian had five match points.

Safiullin had the upper hand in the first tiebreaker, taking a 4-1 lead, but Auger-Aliassime picked up six straight points to take the set.

Both players served well in the second set, but Auger-Aliassime had an opening in the eighth game. The Russian showed more confidence under pressure to save four break points and hold, but it was Auger-Aliassime who controlled the tiebreaker. Auger-Aliassime finished with 15 aces to 10 for Safiullin.

“[He showed] tough qualities, serving well when he needed to, saving those break points in the second set,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I’m glad I was able to find a way to reach the final.”

Second-seeded Rublev had his own battle before defeating ninth-seeded Benjamin Bonzi of France 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

Rublev has a 2-1 career lead over Auger-Aliassime, but the Montrealer beat the Russian in three sets last week in the semi-finals in Rotterdam.

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  1. Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal serves during his quarterfinal match against Ilya Ivashka of Belarus at the Open 13 in Marseille, France on February 18, 2022.

    Montreal ace Félix Auger-Aliassime advances to the semi-finals in Marseille

  2. Felix Auger-Aliassime poses with the trophy as he celebrates after winning the final against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

    Félix Auger-Aliassime surprises Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the first tournament

  3. Montreal's Félix Auger-Aliassime shoots a shot against Russia's Daniil Medvedev in their men's singles quarterfinal match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 26, 2022.

    Great drama at the Australian Open as Félix Auger-Aliassime falls to Russian Medvedev

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