Canadian young gun, Felix Auger-Aliassime opens his campaign at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier on Tuesday when he takes on Bosnian qualifier, Damir Dzumhur in the first round.
Auger-Aliassime is looking to bounce back from an opening round exit at the Australian Open, where he was beaten by Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis in four sets.
It’s been a mixed start to the season for Auger-Aliassime, who began his year at the ATP Cup, winning one of his four singles matches. The 19-year-old defeated Greek, Mikhail Pervolarakis in his tournament opener, but he suffered successive defeats against John Millman, Jan Lennard-Struff and Dusan Lajovic as Canada crashed out in the quarter finals.
The young gun then reached the semi-finals in Adelaide, taking out James Duckworth and Alex Bolt before losing a very tight three-setter against eventual titlist, Andrey Rublev. He couldn’t quite carry on the momentum in Melbourne, falling at the first hurdle to Gulbis.
Currently ranked 21st in the world, Auger-Aliassime is aiming to build on an impressive 2019, when he made his first tour level finals in Rio, Lyon and Stuttgart. He also reached a couple of semi-finals, the most significant being at the Masters 1000 meet in Miami. He started last season outside the top-100, but he rose as high as 17th in October, and ended the year just outside the top 20 at No. 21, despite struggling with an ankle problem towards the end of 2019.
The Canadian continues his 2020 season in Montpellier, where he starts against Dzumhur on Tuesday.
Former top-25 player, Dzumhur needed the qualifying rounds to reach the Montpellier main draw, but he came through quite comfortably, beating Quentin Halys and Elliot Benchetrit in straight sets to move into the draw.
The Bosnian is coming off an opening round exit at the Australian Open, where he was beaten in four sets by former champion, Stan Wawrinka. Montpelier is only his second tour-level main draw of the season, the other being the Australian Open.
The 27-year-old had failed to get through the qualifying rounds in his season opener in Doha, losing to Alexei Popyrin, while his only other event this year was the Bendigo challenger, where he made the quarter finals. Hence, he will be seeking his first ATP main draw win of the year when he faces Auger-Aliassime on Tuesday.
Dzumhur was as high as 23rd in the world as recently as July 2018, and started last year inside the top 50, but he ended the campaign at 93rd, having drifted out of the top-100 in August. The 27-year-old put together a 13-20 record at tour level, with his best results being quarter finals in Rotterdam, Geneva, Antalya and Zhuhai.
He will hope for improvements in 2020 as he attempts to regain his top-30 form, and he’ll go after his first tour-level win of the year when he faces fifth seed, Auger-Aliassime on Tuesday.
Despite Dzumhur’s lowly ranking, he represents a dangerous opener for his Canadian opponent. The Bosnian moves and defends well, and will view this as a match that he can definitely win. Auger-Aliassime remains the favourite here, but this one may get awkward if he’s off his game.