Felix Auger Aliassime’s form is back! Having commented earlier in the week following a few positive results, that he was cautious about his seemingly improved form, he has gone all the way and retained the Swiss Indoor title defeating the recently installed Shanghai Masters champion, Hubert Hurcacz in straight sets.
It's been a tricky year overall, but this feels extra special, even more than last year. I think with the first title [of the year] is the sweetest for sure. So I'm going to enjoy this one Felix Auger Aliassime
The win ended the Canadians’ struggle over the season, but his perseverance has paid off and, in some ways its appropriate that the turn-round occurred at the scene of his last success, Basel, Switzerland.
“I’m definitely back. I let my racket talk. That’s always been the motto of my career. I’ve had the conviction that I can be a top player since I’m a kid, but there were many doubts this year about my performances and why,” Auger-Aliassime said in his on-court interview. “I’m happy that I was able to prove to everybody that I still belong among the best players in the world, that I can play this level. I never doubted it, but it’s good to confirm it on the court.”
As the reigning champion, the Canadian was given a wildcard for this year’s ATP 500 level event and the chance to retain it which he succeeded in doing in a run which included a more than comfortable win over the top seeded Dane, Holger Rune in the semis and a 7-6(3) 7-6(5) victory over the fourth seeded Pole, Hurcacz, having earlier in the week dispatched Switzerland’s Leandro Riedi, Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp. Russian qualifier Alexander Shevchenko in the last eight.
In the final the opening set proved a hard-fought affair with just the one break opportunity falling to the Canadian sixth seed in the fourth game which was well defended by the Pole.
Apart from that moment there was little to separate the two finalists until the tiebreak where Auger Aliassime, with two mini-break, edged ahead in the final after 61-minutes of tense play.
The second set was equally tight with Hurkacz nearly dropping his serve in the ninth game but he recovered well, as he did when hard pressed in the 11th though he was now showing some signs of an injury in his side.
Inevitably another tiebreak was required and this time Hurkacz got the early advantage only to immediately lose it as Auger Aliassime stormed into a 4-2 lead – the momentum swung back to the Pole but the title holder hung and at 6-5 broke him again with a big backhand return to retain his title after a one-hour 52-minutes battle.
“I’m happy for your victory. Obviously, I wish the result was different, but definitely you deserved it,” Hurkacz said during the trophy ceremony. “It was definitely a tricky season for you but you’re an amazing player. You proved it here.”
Auger Aliassime could not disguise his relief and with a huge smile admitted. “A lot of tough times. It was a new challenge this year being away from the court, trying to manage, play tournaments through injuries with painkillers and things like this. It’s been a tricky year overall, but this feels extra special, even more than last year. I think with the first title [of the year] is the sweetest for sure. So I’m going to enjoy this one.”