Auger-Aliassime escapes tough opening set to advance in Miami


Félix Auger-Aliassime saved his best tennis for when it mattered most.

With his back up against the wall, the Canadian used his punishing serve and heavy forehand to save three set points in the first set, before overcoming inspired qualifier Adam Walton 7-5, 6-4 in 1 hour, 59 minutes to advance to the second round in Miami.

It was a rock-solid performance from the 23-year-old, who fired 31 winners to just 17 errors and finished with 11 aces in the win.

Walton was making his Masters 1000 debut, having qualified with two come-from-behind three-set victories over Thiago Monteiro and Pedro Martinez, and quickly proved to be a worthy opponent.

Though action was initially halted by rain after just six minutes of play, the players returned and Walton immediately applied pressure, creating two break point chances against the Auger-Aliassime serve before the Canadian escaped with a hold.

The two would continue to trade holds until the business end of the set, with the Canadian producing plenty of highlight reel shots along the way, including an electric running forehand passing shot winner off a Walton overhead at 4-4.

It was the Australian qualifier who applied significant pressure at 4-5 in the first, creating three set point opportunities. Under duress, Auger-Aliassime held his nerve, relying upon clutch serving and putting trust in his penetrating forehand to turn aside the chances. That undoubtedly shifted momentum, as the Canadian would close out the set in a flurry, capturing 11 of the final 13 points to win the opener 7-5 in 65 minutes.

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The second set proceedings were far more straight forward and comfortable for the Montreal native. Auger-Aliassime dropped just four points total on his serve, and largely dictated baseline play as the pair again traded holds of serve.

At 4-4 he would capitalize on his chance, converting the only break point of the set as he ripped a lethal inside-in forehand winner past a sprawling Walton.  

There was little drama in the final service game, as the Canadian hit a pair of aces and closed the match out with another forehand winner.

Auger-Aliassime joins fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the event and now prepares for a much sterner challenge against world number five Alexander Zverev.

It will be the eighth career meeting between the two, with Zverev holding a 5-2 edge in the head-to-head and winning their most recent encounter at Monte Carlo in 2022 on the clay.





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