In a major upset, Felix Auger-Aliassime came back from a set down to beat former World No. 1 Roger Federer 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Noventi Open in Halle on Wednesday. Playing on one of Federer’s favoured courts, the 20-year-old Canadian maintained his composure against his childhood idol. Even after narrowly losing the opening set, the two-time Stuttgart finalist completed the comeback to secure one of the biggest wins of his career. Auger-Aliassime will next play the winner of Jan-Lennard Struff, who defeated the No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev in the first round, or American qualifier Marcos Giron.
“It’s a great victory, it’s good for my confidence. It was already a great challenge for me to play a player like Roger, but to beat him, it’s a great thing,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It makes me really happy. But at the end, it’s the quarter-finals in two days. If it was the final, then I’d be really happy… it’s another step in the tournament, it’s a great match, so hopefully I can keep on going like that.”
Federer, who has lifted the trophy in Halle a record 10 times, was facing the talented 20-year-old for the first time. He started the match in a confident manner as he set the tempo at the start of the game. The Swiss converted his only break opportunity with a beautiful backhand down the line at 4-3 before comfortably closing out the set.
“In the first set, I didn’t think I could have played much better outside of just missing one forehand in my service game and then he hit two amazing passing shots and I was just like ‘Whoa,'” Auger-Aliassime recalled. “I understand how good he is and how good he was when he was No. 1 in the world, so it was tough.”
But Auger-Aliassime refused to give up. He came back strongly and his strong serves played a big part. The Canadian eventually converted one for a 4-2 lead and won the set without any difficulty.
Felix was ruthless in the decider and his positive play was rewarded as he gained a double break. Auger-Aliassime, who only faced one break point in the match, opened up a 4-0 lead. He had little trouble in seeing out the match from there on.
“Everything worked well today, to be honest. I think that’s what you need to do against Roger,” he said. “On my part, I served really well. I was able to put in a lot of returns, mix up coming to the net, closing well. I think overall I did a good match.”
Alex de Minaur defeated John Millman 6-1, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals. After the match, he said, “I’m very close to Johnny, so I want him to do as well as possible and would have loved for him to be on the other side of the draw and go deep.”
Meanwhile, De Minaur’s doubles partner, Cameron Norrie, also won his match, defeating Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-2. “A huge win for me and definitely a big step up from my first round on Monday,” Norrie said in his on-court interview.