09:48 PM GMT March 09, 2019
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime earned one of the biggest wins of his career on Saturday in an all-#NextGenATP battle, defeating World No. 10 Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.
"I wasn’t sure what to expect. I definitely didn’t expect to win that way," Auger-Aliassime said on Tennis Channel after the match. "But I believed in myself, was able to impose my game like I did in the first round, and that’s it."
Last year in Indian Wells, a 17-year-old Auger-Aliassime became the youngest match winner at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament since it served as the first event at this level in 1990. Now, thanks to his first victory against a Top 10 opponent (1-0), the teenager will have a chance to reach the fourth round when he faces Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, who upset No. 21 seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
Auger-Aliassime began the season at No. 108 in the ATP Rankings. But the 18-year-old has been on a tear since mid-February, reaching his first ATP Tour final at the Rio Open presented by Claro and advancing to the quarter-finals of the Brasil Open.
While those tournaments were on clay, Auger-Aliassime has not slowed down on hard court, defeating Auckland finalist Cameron Norrie in straight sets and now Australian Open semi-finalist and Marseille champion Tsitsipas in just 77 minutes. He is currently at a career-high World No. 58, and on his way up with his performance thus far in the desert.
Listen To ATP Tennis Radio's Interview With Felix's Fitness Trainer:This was the #NextGenATP pair’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, but Auger-Aliassime had won all three of his junior matches against the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion, despite being two years younger. Tsitsipas landed 83 per cent of his first serves, but was able to win only 64 per cent of those points (25/39), and Auger-Aliassime converted all three of his break chances, while saving all seven opportunities Tsitsipas had.
"I know him well and I felt like maybe those three wins that I got in juniors gave me a little bit of an edge mentally," Auger-Aliassime said.
The Canadian's next opponent, the speedy 5'7" lefty Nishioka, beat Doha champion Bautista Agut 7-6(3), 6-4. At the 2017 Australian Open, Bautista Agut lost only eight games against Nishikoka.
But the World No. 74, who lifted his maiden ATP Tour trophy in Shenzhen last year, converted three of his seven break chances to oust the Spaniard after one hour and 43 minutes. Nishioka has earned four of his nine Masters 1000 wins at Indian Wells.
In other action, Rio de Janeiro champion Laslo Djere, who defeated Auger-Aliassime in Rio and Sao Paulo, ousted Argentine Guido Andreozzi 6-3, 6-4. The 30th seed will next play lucky loser Miomir Kecmanovic, who took advantage of his opportunity by beating German Maximilian Marterer 6-3, 6-2.
"I managed to play smart as I planned before the match. I had a few mistakes and one or two bad games on my serve, and I was broken. But if I watch the whole match I'm quite happy with my game, especially that I came here [on Tuesday] and usually I need some time to get used to the hard court," Djere, who has been competing on clay, told ATPTour.com. "But I adapted really well and I'm happy that I could win today in straight sets."
Did You Know?
In 2015, at the age of 14, Auger-Aliassime became the youngest player to ever win a main draw match on the ATP Challenger Tour at Granby. He made the quarter-finals at that event, eventually losing to Nishioka in the pair's only previous meeting.