Auger-Aliassime qualifies for ATP Finals with close win over Ymer in Paris

PARIS — Montreal's Felix Auger-Aliassime advanced to the season-ending ATP Finals for the first time in his career with a razor-thin 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (6) win over Sweden's Mikael Ymer in second-round action Wednesday at the Paris Masters tennis tournament.

Auger-Aliassime won on his second match-point opportunity to end a marathon match that took three and a half hours to complete. With the eight-seeded Canadian serving for the match, Ymer hit a forehand long as Auger-Aliassime closed in on an ATP Finals berth with his 14th straight win.

The Canadian punched his ticket when two of the four players chasing the final two spots lost their second-round matches. Hubert Hurkacz fell 7-5, 6-1 to Holger Rune and Taylor Fritz was defeated 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, meaning they could no longer catch Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev in points.

The ATP Finals start Nov. 13 in Turin, Italy.

Later Wednesday, Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., lost 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-4 to Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, the tournament's 14th seed.

Auger-Aliassime moved on in Paris after a tough test. He had a chance to put the match away earlier in the third-set tiebreak. Ymer, serving down 6-5, stayed alive when he tucked a shot over Auger-Aliassime's racket to end a lengthy rally.

Auger-Aliassime set up his second match point when Ymer hit a shot into the net on the following point.

Ymer, who advanced to the main draw through qualifying, did not make it easy for the in-form Auger-Aliassime.

The Montreal native, who entered Paris after holding serve throughout his tournament win last week at the Swiss Indoors in Basel, faced 17 break points on Wednesday and saved 14 of them.

Ymer looked likely to win when he scored a huge break in Game 3 of the second set and held the next game, putting him up 4-1 in the second set after winning the first.

But Auger-Aliassime was opportunistic, with two of his four breaks in the match coming in the second set to allow him to battle back and force a decisive set.

Auger was up a break twice in the final set, but Ymer fought back both times to force a tiebreaker.

Auger-Aliassime had 11 aces to Ymer's two and 45 winners to his opponent's 34.

The Canadian will next face Gilles Simon of France.

Auger-Aliassime entered the tournament on the heels of three straight titles: ATP 250 tournament wins in Florence, Italy, and Antwerp, Belgium, and the ATP 500 win in Basel.

He is seeking his first Masters-level title in Paris.

Shapovalov, ranked 16th in the world, was coming off a run to the final of last week’s Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

He fired 12 aces, won 86 per cent of first-serve points and was broken just twice. One of those, however, was a key break by Carreno Busta in the first game of the third set, which proved costly as both players held serve the rest of the way.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2022.

The Canadian Press