Felix Holds His Nerve To Reach Lyon Final
Paire blast past Fritz in first semi-final
Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his place in a second ATP Tour final of 2019 on Friday evening after coming through a hard-fought 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 victory against top-seeded Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in two hours and 16 minutes at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon. The teenager won the ATP Challenger Tour event in Lyon in 2017-18, and he will look to claim his maiden tour-level title in the French city, too.
"It feels great. I came here because I thought maybe something good could happen," Auger-Aliassime said. "I felt good two years in a row in this city and here I am in the final, still haven't lost in this city, so it feels pretty good."
The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime, who also beat Basilashvili at the Miami Open presented by Itau in March, will now play Benoit Paire of France in Saturday’s final at the ATP 250 tournament. It will be a first-time FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Auger-Aliassime lost to Laslo Djere on 24 February in his first ATP Tour final at the Rio Open presented by Claro.
The #NextGenATP Canadian is the youngest player to reach at least two finals since former World No. 1 Andy Murray, who was 18 when he accomplished the feat in 2005-06. Auger-Aliassime can become the youngest ATP Tour champion since Kei Nishikori was 18 at Delray Beach in 2008.
"I can't ask for anything better. It was tough matches throughout the week, but I think I've been able to get through every time against tough opponents," Auger-Aliassime said. "I'm glad with the work I did and hopefully I can push one more time."
Basilashvili took control immediately, storming through the first set with two service breaks in 27 minutes, but the World No. 18 was unable to convert three break points on Auger-Aliassime’s serve at 4-4 in the second set. The Canadian later broke clear from 3/3 in the tie-break.
Auger-Aliassime saved two break points at 2-3 in the decider and grew in confidence when Basilashvili struck consecutive backhand errors in the seventh game. Auger-Aliassime finished his 20th match win of the year with his 12th ace. Basilashvili, who is left to rue converting only two of nine break point chances, is now 14-12 on the season.
Earlier in the day, Paire blasted his way into his seventh ATP Tour final. The 30-year-old struck 10 aces and won 33 of 34 first-service points to overcome American Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-2 in 65 minutes.
Dodig/Roger-Vasselin Advance To Lyon Doubles Final
Ivan Dodig and Edouard Roger-Vasselin will attempt to capture their second team trophy of the season after the second seeds swept past fourth seeds Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara 6-1, 6-2 in 52 minutes.
This year’s Open Sud de France titlists will next challenge another all-British team, third-seeded brothers Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski, in Saturday’s final. The Skupskis are 3-5 in team finals, including victory last month at the Hungarian Open.