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By Chris Oddo | Friday February 22, 2019

 
Felix Auger-Aliassime

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated Jaume Munar to book his first career 500 final at the Rio Open on Friday.

Photo Source: Buda Mendes/Getty

Felix Auger-Aliassime has been on the tennis radar for quite some time, so there aren’t many who’ll say they were surprised that the Canadian has found success on the ATP Tour at such a young age.

But that doesn’t make the Canadian’s 6-4 6-3 victory over Spain’s Jaume Munar any less sweet for the 18-year-old.

“It feels great—it’s what you work for every day,” Auger-Aliassime said after the match. “It’s what I get up for every morning.

Auger-Aliassime, who entered the week with a career record of 7-13 and a ranking of 104, clocks his first ATP 500 semi-final as a result of his win and will play for a spot in the final at the Rio Open on Saturday. He'll also make his Top 100 debut next week and could even crack the Top 50 if he claims the title. 


The Canadian struck 32 winners on Friday night in Rio—including 21 off the forehand side—against just seven for Munar, and defeated the 21-year-old World No.66 for the first time in three tries.

Auger-Aliassime has yet to drop a set all week in Brazil.

The victory comes on the heels of Auger Aliassime’s best career win, which he claimed in the first round at Rio by defeating second-seeded Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-3. He then proceeded to defeat Chile's Christian Garin, the player that knocked him out of the Buenos Aires draw in the first round last week.

“To come here and to beat Fabio in the first round and the tournament isn’t over—it feels great,” he said.

Auger-Aliassime was relentless against Munar, breaking the Spaniard three times in each set and responding even when his level dipped a bit late in the second set. Munar broke to get even with the Canadian at 3-all and held a 40-0 lead in the seventh game, but from there the World No. 104 raced to the finish, winning five straight points to break for 4-3 then taking the next two games to close the match in style.

It was the physical, grinding game of Auger-Aliassime that pressured Munar, and he hopes to bring the same energy to his semi-final, against either Pablo Cuevas or Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Saturday.

“Believe in my tennis, be aggressive, impose my game—there’s no other way around,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Against these guys you don’t want to make them feel like they’re comfortable out there so it’s going to be about me pressuring them in the corners.”

The top-half semi-final will be contested by Serbia’s Laslo Djere and Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene. Djere reached his fourth career semi-final with a 6-4 7-5 win over Casper Ruud while Bedene battled back to defeat Hugo Dellien of Bolivia 4-6 6-2 6-3.

No seeded players reached the quarter-finals at Rio this year and it was Djere that knocked off top-seeded Theim in first-round action for his first career Top 10 win.

Bedene is bidding for his fourth career final while Djere is bidding for his first.

 

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