Canadian teen sensation, Felix Auger-Aliassime targets back-to-back tour-level finals when he faces Frenchman, Gilles Simon in Marseille on Saturday.
Auger-Aliassime vs Simon is live from Marseille on Saturday, 22 February from 4:30pm local time/ 3:30pm GMT
Auger-Aliassime has had to fight very hard for his semi-final spot in Marseille, saving multiple match points in each of his first two matches against Stefano Travaglia and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and battling back from a break down in the opening set to beat Egor Gerasimov in the quarter finals on Friday.
Gerasimov broke in the opening game of the match and served for the first set at 5-3, but Auger-Aliassime went on a seven game run, taking the first set and opening up a 3-0 lead on the second. The Canadian never relinquished his control, breaking again in the eighth game of the second set to complete a 7-5 6-2 victory.
The 19-year-old is into his third semi-final of the season, having made the last four in Adelaide, and reached the final in Rotterdam last week. He fell short against Gael Monfils in the Rotterdam final, losing 6-2 6-4 to slip to 0-4 in tour level finals.
It was at this time last year that the rising star made his first ATP final in Rio, where he lost to Laslo Djere. He went on to contest finals in Lyon and Stuttgart, and reach semi-finals in Miami and Queen’s in a superb breakthrough season. Auger-Aliassime was ranked outside the top-100 at the start of last year, but he broke into the top-20 during the course of the season, and ended the year at No. 21.
The Canadian has been banging on the door of that first tour level title over the last year, and he’s once again two wins away from the milestone in Marseille. He got an intriguing semi-final to contend with on Saturday as he takes on two-time champion, Gilles Simon.
Simon earned his semi-final berth with a brilliant 6-4 6-0 victory over top seed, Daniil Medvedev, stretching his curious head-to-head record over the Russian to 3-0. From trailing 3-1 in the opening set, Simon put together a remarkable run, winning 11 of the next 12 games to secure a surprisingly dominant win over Medvedev.
The Frenchman lost just two points on his first serve, and won over 50% of points on Medvedev’s serve. He restricted the world No. 5 to just 9 of 23 points on second serve.
Simon improves to 29-11 in Marseille, and has won more matches at the venue than he’s done at any other tournament. It was also the site of his first tour-level title, back in 2007, while he added a second Marseille title to his collection in 2015. The former world No. 6 has now reached the semi-finals on five occasions.
The 35-year-old had now won back-to-back matches this year before Marseille, going 2-4 between Adelaide, the Australian Open, Montpellier and Rotterdam, but he’s once again found form at one of his favourite tournaments, beating Harold Mayot, Aljaz Bedene and Medvedev in straight sets to reach his first semi-final since a runner-up finish at Queen’s in June last year.
Can the world No. 58 take down Auger-Aliassime on Saturday to make another Marseille final?
Auger-Aliassime defeated Simon 7-5 6-4 in their only previous meeting in Stuttgart last year, and arguably goes into Saturday’s encounter as the favourite, but the obdurate Simon, with the way he’s played this week and his overall record in Marseille, will take some beating!