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Felix Auger-Aliassime Soars in Rotterdam Return

Photo credit: Rotterdam ABN AMRO Open Facebook.

Felix Auger-Aliassime shattered a ceiling in Rotterdam last year.

Today, the reigning ABN AMRO Open champion bruised the back wall in his Rotterdam return.

An assertive Auger-Aliassime swatted 13 aces sweeping Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-3 in his ABN AMRO Open return.

It was Auger-Aliassime’s sixth straight Rotterdam win, including successive victories over Andy Murray, Cameron Norrie, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas to raise the Rotterdam title trophy last February.

That was a monumental moment in the Canadian’s career: his first ATP title after Auger-Aliassime started off with an ignominious 0-8 record in ATP finals. 

So how will Auger-Aliassime respond to the pressure of defending an ATP title for the first time?

The third-seeded Canadian served with command. Auger-Aliassime served 64 percent, won 30 of 35 first-serve points and saved both break points he faced.

Quick off the mark, the Canadian caught up to a drop shot and dabbed a slick backhand angled pass coming to a sliding stop with the first break point. When Sonego’s diagonal forehand strayed, Auger-Aliassime had the break and a 4-2 lead.

Facing a 15-30 hole in the following game, the Canadian landed heavy serves dodging danger to back up the break for 5-2.

The third seed flicked a lob that Sonego couldn’t solve for a break and set point. Auger-Aliassime earned his second straight break scoring his fourth consecutive game to snatch a one-set lead.

Auger-Aliassime served 62 percent, won 12 of 13 first-serve points and smacked 6 aces in the 37-minute opener.

Outrageous athleticism from Auger-Aliassime saw him stab a volley, sprint back to the baseline where he improvised a slice-bounce smash then banged a backhand pass crosscourt for double set point. That stirring sequence brought a smile even to Sonego’s face.

The Italian wasn’t done. Sonego scalded a forehand return winner to save the first match point.

Auger-Aliassime sealed a sweep in style scorching his 13th ace out wide to end a one hour, 22-minute victory.

The win sends Auger-Aliassime into a round of 16 meeting vs. Gregoire Barrere.

French qualifier Barrere beat Belgian David Goffin 6-0, 7-6(3) for his third straight win following two qualifying victories.

In a dramatic duel that spanned exactly three hours, Hubert Hurkacz edged Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 6-7(7), 7-6(4). Hurkacz hammered 26 aces against three double faults defeating the world No. 24 for the first time in four meetings. 

The fifth-seeded Hurkacz will try to beat former finalist Grigor Dimitrov for the first time when they meet in the round of 16. Dimitrov has edged Hurkacz 7-6 in the third set of their two prior career meetings.

Alexander Zverev zapped 10 aces without a double fault and denied all three break points he faced in a 6-4, 7-6(4) win over Soonwoo Kwon.