The in-form Felix Auger-Aliassime passed his biggest test yet on Saturday at the Swiss Indoors Basel, where the Canadian delivered a stunning all-around performance to defeat World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz 6-3, 6-2.
Auger-Aliassime kept Alcaraz constantly under pressure with some blistering hitting from the baseline throughout the pair’s semi-final clash, while also demonstrating some of the huge serving that has defined his European indoor hard-court season so far.
“So far it has been very close to perfect [in Basel]”, said Auger-Aliassime, who has dropped just one set this week, in his on-court interview. “I’ve been serving amazing, not getting broken once yet. There’s still one match to go, but it’s been a fantastic week, [I have] played some great tennis, and again today against the best player in the world. It’s an amazing win, so I’m really happy with my level and hopefully I can go all the way.”
The win bolsters Auger-Aliassime’s seventh-place position in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. The Canadian (3,435 points) is now just five points behind sixth-placed Andrey Rublev as he bids to qualify for November’s Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. The 22-year-old can leapfrog Rublev on Sunday by defeating Holger Rune, a 7-6(1), 7-6(6) semi-final winner against Roberto Bautista Agut, to claim the title in Basel.
After a cagey start to the match from both players, Auger-Aliassime took control in the eighth game, when he broke Alcaraz to love. The Canadian stayed solid to polish off the first set before two further breaks in the second sealed the win and improved Auger-Aliassime’s ATP Head2Head record against the Spaniard to 3-0.
“I played great again,” said Auger-Aliassime. “Showing up and taking care of my serve, game after game. I think it was kind of a nervous start for both of us, but I think I was able to put a lot of pressure on [with my] second-serve return, and I think he felt that.
“From that point I was able to get a lot of opportunities. [In the second set] I got a few free points, and was able to really use them well. In [World] No. 1 fashion, he came back with some great points, had a break point [in the final game] to come back a little bit. It was 0/30 on my serve, so those are good games to win.”
Auger-Aliassime’s 82-minute triumph, in which he struck 23 winners to Alcaraz’s eight, extended his winning streak to 12 matches. That run includes titles in Florence and Antwerp, and he will next bid for a third consecutive ATP Tour crown in Sunday’s championship match against Bautista Agut or Rune.
“It’s amazing,” said Auger-Aliassime later. “I never expected it, when I was in Florence three weeks ago, or after the US Open. I’m just really happy that all my work is coming together.
“I’ve always believed that I can play this way, that I can be consistent in that way, but one thing is to believe and the other is to actually do it. It’s nice to feel that way, it’s nice to come out on the court and win that many matches in a row… So hopefully this is just the beginning of seeing me play this way.”