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Felix Auger-Aliassime knocks out Roger Federer in Halle
The Canadian overcame the 10-time Noventi Open champion on Wednesday, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, to move into the quarterfinals.
Published Jun 16, 2021
INTERVIEW: Auger-Aliassime reacts to the experience of facing his idol Federer.
On August 8, 1981, Roger Federer came into this world. On August 8, 2000, Felix Auger-Aliassime was born.
On June 16, 2021, Federer and Auger-Aliassime squared off for the first time on the ATP tour, a meeting the Canadian couldn't imagine being possible.
"I always thought he would be gone when I arrived. He was already winning Grand Slams when I was like five years old," said Auger-Aliassime. "I never expected to play him. I just wanted to be professional one day and didn’t even think I would get to his level."
Playing at a place that has been like a second home for the Swiss, Auger-Aliassime rallied to oust the 10-time Noventi Open champion in Halle, Germany, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. The second-round loss marks the first time in 18 appearances that Federer failed to reach the tournament's quarterfinal stage.
"I was playing really well, protecting my serve really good. I served amazingly in the third set. But it was tough in the first set," the 20-year-old said. "I was playing almost perfect, as good as I could play and I lost 6-4. I was like, ‘if he was in prime, that must have been scary.’ I thought he was really good. I still believed in my chances. I felt like since I was serving well, I wanted to see what I could do further in the match."
Here’s a look at some of the key moments through a series of GIFs:
After both players held comfortably to start, a pair of unforced errors saw Federer fall behind 2-3, 15-40. The 39-year-old wiped away both break points with unreturnable serves, the second via an ace, to safely reach 3-3. Then, he made his move.
At 30-30, Auger-Aliassime didn’t get enough depth or weight behind his forehand, and Federer made him pay in ripping his forehand reply up the line for a winner. On the next point, it was time for the Swiss to bring out the same shot on his backhand side, this time passing the charging Canadian.
Serving for the set, Federer’s forehand miscues put him in another 15-40 hole. A serve directed out wide once again paid dividends, and on the next point—what proved to be Auger-Aliassime’s best look at securing the break—Federer moved in to hit a drive backhand volley into an open space.
Last week’s Stuttgart finalist kept knocking on the door of a momentum shift. A 0-40 look in Federer’s second game of the second set was squandered. But with Federer serving at 2-3, Auger-Aliassime’s efforts were finally rewarded.
His wheels and wrist action brought him to 30-30, and a great short slice created his eighth break point chance.
Though it was again erased by Federer, who would later reach ad-in, Auger-Aliassime’s forehand kept him in the game, and a terrific deep return up the middle proved too much for Federer to handle.
Soon, the second-round contest was level at one-set apiece when Auger-Aliassime closed at 15 after continuing to show his abilities at the net. It appeared his grip on the match would carry over to the start of the decider when opening a 0-40 lead on return. Federer once again erased the deficit, but two backhand unforced errors saw him drop serve for the second time.
Auger-Aliassime continued to hit his targets on serve, consolidating at love. Federer meanwhile, couldn’t find his first delivery, and paid the price. Auger-Aliassime broke again when the No. 5 seed was unsuccessful at executing a serve and volley. The Montreal native ultimately maintained his double-break advantage to complete his victory after one hour and 44 minutes.