Madrid tournament | Félix Auger-Aliassime advances to the final in an unusual way

The ATP players were probably unaware that they were putting one foot in hell by appearing on the red sand of Madrid. Félix Auger-Aliassime, however, seems to find his way in this tournament which is as bizarre as it is unpredictable.

For the second time in a row, the Quebecer emerged victorious from a duel in which his opponent was forced to retire.

Thursday, Jannik Sinner did not even start their quarter-final match, hampered by a hip injury.

Then, on Friday, 33 minutes into his semi-final, Jiri Lehecka asked the referee to stop because of a back injury. He would most likely have preferred to play these two matches, but Auger-Aliassime thus reached a first final of a Masters 1000 tournament in his career.

“I don’t want to talk about myself,” explained the winner, taken aback, after the meeting. I’ve been hurt before and I can only understand Jiri’s pain and frustration right now. It’s a pretty crazy week for players. »

Now that that’s said, Auger-Aliassime will have a considerable advantage over Andrey Rublev, his opponent in the final. The Quebecer will arrive greatly rested and spared for his match on Sunday.

He had played only six games at the time of Lehecka’s retirement. It was 3-3 in the first set when the Czech showed signs of pain and discomfort in his lower back. On an ace on his opponent’s second ball, Lehecka was slowed down in his momentum. His body froze and he was unable to reach Auger-Aliassime’s arcing ball.

Even though the time to switch sides had not yet come, he asked to see a therapist. Eight minutes later, he returned with the attitude of a player knowing it was done. He abruptly threw his equipment on his bench before picking up his racket.

On serve, he held on for three points before collapsing. With his knees on the clay, he signaled to the referee that he was forfeiting.

We had every right to expect a close duel between these two exceptional servers. And Auger-Aliassime was comfortable and in full possession of his means, especially on serve, with a success rate of 100% in points on the first ball.

However, he instead benefited from another privilege. He has only been on the playing surface for 6 hours 38 minutes since the start of the tournament. A complete and utter anomaly.

On the way to the final


Andrey Rublev will be Félix Auger-Aliassime’s opponent in the final.

Winner of five career titles, Auger-Aliassime will have his work cut out to add one more to his collection. Rublev has just beaten Carlos Alcaraz and Taylor Fritz in quick succession.

The eighth player in the world is brimming with confidence. In addition, Rublev had the advantage in four of his five duels against Auger-Aliassime.

He also has the advantage of experience. Rublev has won 5 of his 15 titles on clay. As for him, the Quebecer lost his only two finals on this surface, in Rio and Lyon, but that was in 2019.

The fact remains that for the first time in many moons, Félix Auger-Aliassime plays with passion, ease and confidence. We have to go back to October, in Basel, to remember the last time he performed so well.

This unexpected final, in an important tournament on the calendar, currently makes him move from 35e place in the world ranking at 20e temporary place. A possible victory would bring him closer to top 15.

So, sometimes, one or two strokes of luck can restart a season.

Frescoes of Felix and Leylah at the IGA stadium


Tennis Canada unveiled frescoes representing Quebec players Félix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Fernandez (our photo) on the walls of the IGA stadium on Friday.


The fresco by Félix Auger-Aliassime

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