09:00 PM GMT October 21, 2020
Felix Auger-Aliassime's bett1HULKS opener against Egor Gerasimov was understandably a difficult match for the #NextGenATP Canadian, who struggled in Sunday's Cologne final against Alexander Zverev. But despite being on the brink of defeat against the Belarusian, Auger-Aliassime overcame his nerves and found a way to win.
Gerasimov served for the match at 6-5 in the second set, but Felix, despite failing to serve out the match from 40/0 in the third set, rallied past the qualifier 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4) in two hours and 46 minutes. Auger-Aliassime hit 15 aces and saved five of the seven break points he faced in the deciding set to advance to the quarter-finals at the second ATP 250 event in Cologne in as many weeks.
"Tonight showed how cruel tennis can be sometimes," Auger-Aliassime said in his on-court interview. "He had his chances serving for the match in the second set. I felt like he was playing a great level of tennis. And then I tried to stick in there, stay calm and try different things, adapt. In the end I got a bit nervous serving up three match points, but those are things that happen and I'm for sure really happy I came back in the last game to save it."
The third set was a roller-coaster full of tension. Three consecutive service breaks sent the momentum back and forth in the middle of the set, resulting in the fifth seed taking a 4-3 lead.
Auger-Aliassime showed shaky nerves when serving out the match at 5-4. From 40/0, he made five consecutive errors — including a double fault — to relinquish his advantage, missing out on three match points in that game.
"That was tough mentally, to be honest. I didn't see that one coming. I was serving well the whole game," Auger-Aliassime said. "Then [I hit that] double fault and he played good points and after you get a bit nervous, I think that's normal. At the end you try your best, you try to stay in the match, which I did mentally."
The World No. 22 let slip a 4/2 advantage in the tie-break, but he crushed a backhand down the line at 4/4, which proved the decisive mini-break.
"I think I can be proud of my effort, because it's not easy whenever you face a situation like this to come back and win the match in the end," Auger-Aliassime said. "This brings me a lot of confidence and I'm for sure happy I got through."
Auger-Aliassime will next face seventh-seeded Struff or Japanese lefty Yoshihito Nishioka. In first-round action earlier in the day, Struff defeated Sardinia finalist Marco Cecchinato 6-3, 6-1.