A powerful service game gave Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime a distinct advantage in his third-round match at the National Bank Open on Thursday afternoon.
Cameron Norrie had no answer for it and then watched his own service game fall apart.
The sixth-seeded Auger-Aliassime fired 15 aces in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the ninth-seeded Brit to earn a quarterfinal berth at his hometown tournament.
“That was a very convincing win,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I served really well but I felt like I was also putting a lot of pressure on him at every opportunity that I had.”
Norrie buckled in his final service game with three double-faults.
With the clouds cleared after a mid-afternoon storm, the left-hander had to deal with the blinding late-afternoon sun right in his toss sightline at 4-4. It led to struggles at a most inopportune time.
Auger-Aliassime took full advantage with a rather easy break before serving things out for the victory in 72 minutes.
“I got a bit lucky,” he said. “He can hit double-faults, but I’ve never seen him hit three double-faults in a game like that. That was a bit fortunate.”
Auger-Aliassime posted a first-serve percentage of 85 per cent. Norrie did not record an ace and landed just 73 per cent of his first serves.
Next up for the 22-year-old Canadian is a quarterfinal matchup with fourth-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway, who posted a 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory over No. 14 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.
Auger-Aliassime and Ruud are the two highest seeded players remaining in the draw. Top-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia, No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain and No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece all lost their opening matches on Wednesday at IGA Stadium.
The ninth-seeded Norrie beat the Montrealer in the semifinals last week in Los Cabos, Mexico for his first victory over Auger-Aliassime in five tries on the ATP Tour.
“It was very positive for me against a player of his calibre to be able to get back to winning ways against him,” Auger-Aliassime said.
There was a clear home-court advantage this time around. The crowd let out a roar as soon as Auger-Aliassime was pictured on the stadium screens for his walk through the tunnel to centre court.
The last Canadian remaining in the field at the Masters 1000 event, Auger-Aliassime applied pressure with Norrie serving at 3-4 in the opener. He came to the net at 30-30 and made a series of volleys that had the Brit running from side to side.
Auger-Aliassime earned a break point and delivered an emphatic fist pump to the crowd’s delight. Norrie was long on the next rally and the Canadian served it out for the set.
Eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz also advanced Thursday as he outlasted Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (3) while Nick Kyrgios beat fellow Australian Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-3.
Gael Monfils, the No. 17 seed from France, retired early in the second set of his match against British qualifier Jack Draper. Monfils, who trailed 6-2, 0-2 at the time, received treatment in the right ankle area but couldn’t continue.
Tenth-seeded American Taylor Fritz was also eliminated after dropping a 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-5 decision to Britain’s Daniel Evans.
Seventh-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner was to meet Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in the evening session and No. 13 Marin Cilic of Croatia was to play American Tommy Paul.
The Ruud-Bautista Agut match was completed over four hours after its initial start time. Matches were delayed for over an hour due to rain.
Play continues at the US$6.57-million tournament through Sunday.