Felix Auger-Aliassime fought back to beat Dan Evans 4-6 7-6(4) 6-2 in the quarter finals of the European Open in Antwerp and increase his chances of reaching the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin.
It was a really high-quality match from both of us. I couldn’t regret too much in the first set, he just played it a bit too good. Then I started serving better and held my serve easier so that of course helped Felix Auger-Aliassime
Lying in seventh place at the start of the week, the top Canadian has boosted his chances of qualifying for the prestigious field of the world’s top eight players of the year.
He will play the veteran Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who beat the Belgian David Goffin in the last eight 6-2 7-6(6) for a place in the Antwerp final.
“It was a very tough match,” said Auger-Aliassime afterwards. “He played really good.
“It was a really high-quality match from both of us. I couldn’t regret too much in the first set, he just played it a bit too good. Then I started serving better and held my serve easier so that of course helped.
“From the tie-break, it was a great finish from me so I’m really happy I made the effort to dig deep and push hard until the end.”
In the opening set Evans was the more proficient player, earning a break point in the third game and then pocketing the set at the second opportunity.
Fighting back in the second set, Auger Aliassime couldn’t break through the Evans serve as the Brit fended off three break chances forcing a tiebreak where the Canadian did manage to turn the tables on his opponent to level the match.
That proved a crucial turning point as he then finally broke the British No.2 in the third game and with his own serve now firing sweetly and his groundstrokes their mark, he sealed Evan’s fate by breaking him in the seventh game and finishing it off in the next for his 17th indoor win of the season, the most of any player on the tour.
Auger Aliassime’s biggest challenger for that trip to Turin, is the top seeded Pole, Hubert Hurkacz but his chances of qualifying were severely dented by Austria’s Dominic Thiem who produced what must be the upset of the week.
Thiem, a former world No.3, recovered from a set down and after saving three match points, beat Poland’s best 3-6 7-6(11) 7-6(4) to make the semi-finals where he will play American Sebastian Korda, a very comfortable 6-0 6-2 winner over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.
For Thiem, who is now fast recovering the form which took him to the top echelons of the game before he suffered a wrist injury which side-lined him for 10 months, it is his second semi-final appearance in as many weeks.
“It’s very special,” an emotional Thiem said following his victory.
“This victory especially is unbelievable because it’s a first victory over an almost top 10 guy in my comeback process.
“It was unbelievable to play. Great atmosphere, close match. So thank you very much to everybody.”
Dominic Thiem went into the match without a win over Hurkacz in three previous encounters and it looked as though a fourth loss was on the cards during the very tight second set 24-point tiebreak.
The victory also lifts the Austrian 20 rungs up the ranking’s ladder to 112,