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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday February 6, 2021


Felix Auger-Aliassime couldn’t crack that long awaited breakthrough on Sunday in Melbourne. The Canadian lost his seventh consecutive ATP final in a span of less than 24 months and he hasn’t managed a single set in any of them.

Tennis Express

That was just fine with Dan Evans, who claimed his first title on his third try. The 30-year-old took out Auger-Aliassime 6-2 6-3 in a patchy affair that was characterized more by the Canadian’s discombobulated game than a high level by either player. It wasn’t necessary for Evans, he just had to stay steady and let Auger-Aliassime hand him the keys to the castle.

Nevertheless it was an entertaining look into the mind of two of the sports’ interesting characters.

Auger-Aliassime has been ticketed for the top of tennis since his junior days, and he has done nothing but impress. To have reached seven finals by the age of 20 is a remarkable achievement, but to have lost them all is disappointing and has led many to wonder what exactly is going on with the talented Quebecois.

He’s a hard-working, genuine person. He’s got a balanced, supercharged game that can really punish opponents. So why the letdown in finals?


Evans, on the other hand, was close to being cast off as a waste of potential in 2017 when he was suspended for using cocaine. The brash, surly Brit committed himself fully to the sport after he got his second chance and the results have been inspiring.

The 30-year-old has a polished game that packs plenty of punch and variety, and he’s proven to be an adept fighter over the last few seasons.

At 33 in the ATP rankings he appears headed for a test of the Top 20 this season.

It wasn’t surprising to see him on the winning side of the ledger on Sunday, but what did surprise was Auger-Aliassime’s inability to mount any kind of resistance. He simply couldn’t find the court. The Canadian is a gifted, authoritative ball striker but he was a shell of himself in the final.

Where assertiveness usually takes center stage, there was a timid lack of direction. Auger-Aliassime missed routine volleys and sprayed errors that made things easy for Evans. The 20-year-old's feet, normally fleet, were clumsy at best. He was stuck in the mud...

It was simply one of those days for Auger-Aliassime, and the loss presents another opportunity to zero in on the problem. Whatever it is that plagues him in these big matches, he has plenty of time to right the ship. He’s 20 and one of the rising forces of the game. All is not wrong with his trendline.

As for Evans, he would not have made it easy for Auger-Aliassime even if the Canadian played a great match. A gifted athlete, his best days on tour may be yet to come.

He says he will now turn his thoughts the Australian Open where he will face fellow Brit Cameron Norrie.

“It was good to be out there and win, but like I said last year, this year I wanted to do well in the bigger events,” he said. “I didn't have great Grand Slams last year, albeit a strange year, but my focus is on this week now.”


 

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