This wasn’t the way Félix Auger-Aliassime hoped to mark his 19th birthday.Sixth-seeded Karen Khachanov spoiled the celebration when he defeated Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (7), 7-5, 6-3 in the third round of the Rogers Cup Canadian Open men’s tennis championships.The Montrealer was serenaded with a chorus of Bonne Fête after the match, while there were birthday greetings from several of his fellow players on the video screen at IGA Stadium. Despite the celebration, you got the impression it was less than a happy birthday for Auger-Aliassime.Khachanov’s strength and experience proved to be the difference in the decisive third set. In a match marked by frequent service breaks, Khachanov broke Auger-Aliassime in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead and did not face a break point on his serve the rest of the way.Auger-Aliassime’s serve let him down throughout the match. He had 11 aces, but he also double-faulted 12 times and was broken seven times. Khachanov also had 11 aces, but he only had three double faults and was broken five times.“For sure the wind didn’t help, especially in the first set,” Auger-Aliassime said. “When I was up a break, I double-faulted twice (and I) felt like it was very tough to serve, even on the first serve. I think that’s why we kept breaking each other. Look, if it’s tough for you to serve, it’s going to be tough for him, as well.“As the match went on, I felt more and more comfortable,” Auger-Aliassime added. “I think in key moments I was able to serve well and that gave me a chance to win. For sure I’m facing difficulties on my second serve. I have to face it. I mean, it’s like you. You face difficulties in your work. I face difficulties in mine. What do you do? You go back to work and you try to do better next time. That’s what I’ll do for the future.”
Félix Auger-Aliassime’s serve let him down throughout his match against Karen Khachanov. He had 11 aces, but he also double-faulted 12 times and was broken seven times.
Eric Bolte /
USA TODAY Sports
Khachanov said the match was an example of “winning ugly.”“I think both of us were returning better than we were serving and the wind was going around and that made it more difficult.” Khachanov said.The hometown crowd was solidly behind Auger-Aliassime.“The sound of the crowd, the people, the support they gave me was crazy,” said Auger-Aliassime. “From the first practice I had here, then all the way to this match today was just crazy. It really is a dream come true. The atmosphere in the tiebreak at the end of the first set was pretty surreal.”It also posed some problems for Khachanov. After missing a chance to win the tiebreaker, the Russian received a warning when he launched a ball over what was once the left-field wall, which the crowd responded to with boos.“I cannot deny that I got a little bit crazy with the crowd,” Khachanov said. “But I’m really a bit disappointed with the crowd as well. I don’t have anything against (them) when they cheer for Félix. It’s normal. He’s the home favourite, especially from Montreal. I wish they could cheer the same way in Russia for me.“But still, you know, not when I miss or not wishing me to miss, screaming during the points. I think it’s disrespectful. I just got crazy. On the other side, I provoked the crowd, and that gave me also some kind of energy, as well. I don’t know. I was doing some bulls***, honestly.”Auger-Aliassime said Khachanov apologized to him after the match.“He just said that he got mad, it was nothing against me,” Auger-Aliassime said. “He was just frustrated at the crowd.”Next up for Khachanov is a quarter-final match against third-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany, who was also involved in a long three-set match. He defeated 13th-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (5).Thiem stays strongSecond-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria defeated 14th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-6 (7), 6-4.Thiem, who was coming off a clay-court win in Kitzbuhel, lost in the first round in his five previous appearances at the Rogers Cup and said the difference this year was confidence as he moved to the faster hard courts.“I had, like, four (practice) sessions that were pretty good,” Thiem said. “The most important thing for the successful transition and for the successful start in this tournament was my confidence. The last three, four years I didn’t play worse than this year, but I just came with low confidence and I came a little bit sad to Canada because I didn’t play good in my own home tournament where I usually, of course, have a lot of pressure.“This year everything is different,” added Thiem. “I won the title at home. I made one of my biggest dreams come true.”Thiem’s quarter-final opponent will be eighth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia, who cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 win over unseeded Cristian Garin of Chile.“He’s having a great season,” Thiem said about Medvedev. “It’s his first time in the top 10. I think he’s one of the guys with the most wins, playing every week unbelievable, solid tennis. It’s going to be very, very tough match.“I played him in the finals in Barcelona, which was of course in my favour because it’s clay and I think it’s not his favourite surface,” Thiem added. “Then we had a great, close match in St. Petersburg (Russia), which was a very high level. I’ll try to see this one again, look what I did great there, try to play similar tomorrow.”Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., had a three-set loss to Thiem in the second round of the Rogers Cup, but he’s still alive in doubles play. He teamed up with Rohan Bopanna, a 39-year-old doubles specialist from India, to reach the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Kyle Edmund of Britain and American Taylor Fritz.firstname.lastname@example.org/zababes1Related