Félix Auger-Aliassime became the second Canadian victim of Alexander Bublik this week in Montpellier on Saturday as he fell to the second seed in a three-set semifinal.
Bublik had taken out Denis Shapovalov in a round-two thriller.
Like his countryman, Auger-Aliassime got off to a solid start but could not prevent the comeback from Bublik, who rallied from a set down for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.
The serve was not as crisp as it needed to be from Auger-Aliassime, who double-faulted six times and won just 44 per cent of his second serve points. Bublik was the better of the two, hitting 14 aces, winning 74 per cent of his first serve points, and limiting the Canadian to just four break points.
There was little between the two men in the opening set, with the first break point not coming until the sixth game, saved by Bublik, and the first break not coming until the Kazakhstani served to stay in the set at 4-5.
Across the pond in Montreal, Gabriel Diallo and Vasek Pospsil had combined to win three sets in Team Canada presented by Sobeys’ Davis Cup tie with the Republic of Korea by breaking in the 10th game of a set on Friday and Auger-Aliassime mimicked his countrymen over in France, coaxing some nervy errors out of Bublik to break for the set.
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Bublik started to turn the momentum early in the second, holding his first break points of the match in the opening game. While Auger-Aliassime saved both on that occasion, in the fifth game he committed four straight unforced errors to throw away a break to love.
Despite pushing Bublik as he served for the set at 5-4 and even holding a break point, the Canadian failed to reel his opponent in.
At the start of the third, the pair battled through a 16-minute Auger-Aliassime service game which ended with a forehand long from the Canadian to drop serve. But Bublik double-faulted the break back in the fourth game.
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Errors again proved costly for Auger-Aliassime as in the seventh game. He sent a backhand wide to give Bublik a break point, where a forehand from the Canadian clipped the tape and sailed long to give away what proved to be the decisive break as the Kazakhstani lost just two points on serve the rest of the way.
Montpellier was Auger-Aliassime’s first semifinal of the season. He will look for an even better result next week in Marseille, where he has reached the final twice in his career.