03:52 PM GMT April 16, 2019
Mark your calendars! #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime will face World No. 3 Alexander Zverev at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters after battling past Juan Ignacio Londero 7-5, 7-6(5) on Tuesday.
"It was a tough match. He already won a title this year. I played against him in South America, and he had victory after victory, so I knew it was going to be difficult. And it was," Auger-Aliassime said. "But I'm very happy to win my first match after Miami, because I didn't know what to expect after Miami. But I felt from the beginning I was having a good feeling."
Auger-Aliassime recorded his 15th tour-level victory of 2019 (15-7) after one hour and 58 minutes, winning 88 per cent of first-serve points (38/43). Despite failing to convert three match points heading into the second-set tie-break, the Canadian claimed victory on his fourth opportunity as Londero fired a backhand return into the tramline.
"It wasn't easy, because he was fighting until the end, and he raised his level of tennis at the end of the match," Auger-Aliassime said. "But I just had to keep on working, keep on looking for any chance, and I managed to win. That was very important."
The World No. 33 has already risen 75 spots in the ATP Rankings this year, following a semi-final run at the Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Isner) and a runner-up finish at the Rio Open presented by Claro (l. to Djere).
Auger-Aliassime will be aiming to defeat a Top 10 player for the second time at an ATP Masters 1000 event this season. The 18-year-old stunned reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas at the BNP Paribas Open last month.
"I think this is a good opportunity [to play Zverev]. He's the one who is more or less the leader of the new generation of tennis players," said Auger-Aliassime. "It's been a while since he's been around, so he has got lots of experience already."
"So for me, this is going to be a great opportunity to play against him and to see how I do against him. I believe in my tennis. I am going to try to do my best, and I'm very hopeful that I will adjust my play to his. I'm going to try to dictate the game."
In the longest ATP Tour match this season, Borna Coric saved one match point to outlast Jaume Munar 6-7(3), 7-6(7), 6-4 after three hours and 29 minutes.
Shortly after saving three break points at 5-5 (0/40) in the second set, the ninth seed moved up the court and fired a backhand down the line to avoid defeat at 5/6 in the tie-break. Bidding to reach back-to-back Masters 1000 quarter-finals, following his run to the last eight in Miami (l. to Auger-Aliassime), Coric will meet last year's finalist Kei Nishikori or Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the third round.
Herbert recorded his first victory in four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Fernando Verdasco, defeating the 2010 finalist 6-4, 6-4.
"I'm very happy for the result today," said Herbert. "This is my fifth match on this surface [at all levels] this season, and probably this match was the most accomplished one, the best I have played so far... I'm really happy because I have never won against [Verdasco]."