Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime falls to American Taylor Fritz at ATP Finals

TURIN, Italy — Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime dropped a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-2 decision to American Taylor Fritz on Thursday at the ATP Finals.

Fritz earned his first service break of the match midway through the deciding set and went on to complete the victory in two hours 44 minutes.

With the win, he locked up a spot in Saturday's semifinals against Serbia's Novak Djokovic. Auger-Aliassime was eliminated from the eight-man competition.

"It's unfortunate," Auger-Aliassime said. "Myself, I had chances in the second set. I had a clear chance on a return.

"After the (second) set … bad choices, bad execution some parts. Maybe I lost the focus a little bit. The fact that I'm tired, sometimes you don't feel like you're tired, but it's late .… I've played a long year. I have to give credit to him because the way I came back in the second set, for him to stay present, to still play well in that third set, it's a great effort from him."

Both players entered with 1-1 records on the indoor hardcourt at the Pala Alpitour after wins over Spain's Rafael Nadal and losses to Norway's Casper Ruud.

Fritz applied steady pressure in the early going. His serve was in form and Auger-Aliassime's retrieval skills were put to the test.

Both players held serve into a first-set tiebreaker. Fritz picked up a mini-break at 4-2 when Auger-Aliassime sprayed a backhand return.

The American converted the second of three set points when Auger-Aliassime was long with a ground stroke.

Auger-Aliassime, from Montreal, was more aggressive at the start of the second set and was nearly rewarded with a quick service break.

Up 1-0, he had a double-break point but made an unforced error and Fritz followed with a service winner. A third break-point opportunity followed but Fritz again relied on his serve for the hold.

In the tiebreaker, Fritz's first double-fault of the match put Auger-Aliassime back on serve at 3-4. The Canadian later hit a daring drop to go up 5-4 and converted his first set point to pull even.

Up 3-2 in the decider, Fritz earned his first break-point opportunity when Auger-Aliassime's return hit the net cord.

The Canadian forced deuce and saved two more break points before a wide return gave Fritz the game.

In the other group match Thursday, Nadal beat Ruud 7-5, 7-5 in what was essentially a warm-up match for the Norwegian.

Djokovic locked up the top spot in the other group. Ruud will play the winner of Friday's match between Russia's Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

The sixth-ranked Auger-Aliassime has won four ATP Tour events this season. He had a 16-match winning streak end at the Paris Masters earlier this month.

This was his first career appearance at the ATP Finals. The ninth-ranked Fritz was also making his tournament debut.

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., is the only other Canadian to qualify for this event. He dropped both of his matches in 2014 and lost in the semifinals in 2016.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2022.

The Canadian Press