Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime is through to the final of the Cologne Open tennis tournament, while fellow Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic were ousted in the semi-final round Saturday at the St. Petersburg Open.
The 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime, who is looking for his first win on the ATP Tour, will appear in his third final this season and sixth of his career when he faces top seed Alexander Zverev of Germany in Sunday’s final of the ATP 250 hardcourt tournament.
He earned his spot with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 win over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in a semi-final match Saturday.
Auger-Aliassime’s two other finals this year came at indoor hardcourt tournaments before play on the ATP Tour paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He had some success when the tour restarted, reaching the fourth round of the U.S. Open. But he struggled in the next three tournaments when the Tour shifted to clay-surface events, including a first-round loss at the French Open.
“Like everyone knows this year has been difficult. I had a great start to the year indoors, then unfortunately we had to stop,” Aliassime said.
“Last three weeks have been tough on the clay, so I’m happy to be in another final.”
After faltering in the second set, Auger-Aliassime quickly regained momentum with an early break in the third before putting the second-seeded Spaniard away.
The third-seeded Canadian hit into five double faults and won just 64 per cent of his service points, but also fired seven aces and converted three of his six break point chances.
“Today was a difficult match,” Auger-Aliassime said. “To come out on top against a player like Roberto is gratifying.”
It was the second meeting between Bautista Agut and Auger-Aliassime. The Spaniard won their first meeting at last year’s Davis Cup final.
Zverev has defeated Auger-Aliassime in their two previous meetings.
“Sasha deciding to come and play here, myself being one of the young players in the draw, exciting final,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It’s our first final against each other, and hopefully it’s not the last.”
Shapovalov, seeded second at the ATP 500 hardcourt event in Russia, lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to third seed Andrey Rublev of Russia.
Raonic, the sixth seed and 2015 champion, fell 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 to seventh seed Borna Coric of Croatia.
Shapovalov had trouble with the accuracy of his serve Saturday, landing just 57 per cent of his first serves and committing eight double faults. "I started well, but then my opponent managed to raise his game, Shapovalov said. “It happens sometimes. I think it was a great match and we both played great.”
The 21-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., also failed to make the most of his opportunities, converting just one of six break point chances.
“At first I lost my attention during my serve, and then Andrey started to play better,” Shapovalov said. "He’s in a really good shape now. If you give him a chance, as I gave today, he will take advantage of it.
“I had a chance today in the third set to make a break, but I didn’t use it, and then he just played great.”
Rublev was marginally better on serve, winning 70 per cent of service points compared to 67 per cent for Shapovalov, but the Russian committed just two double faults and made good on two of his five break point chances.
With the win, Rublev evened his all-time record against Shapovalov at 2-2.
Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., breezed through the first set against Coric to take an early lead in their semi-final before the Croat roared back to win the match.
The 29-year-old, big-hitting Canadian had 18 aces to four for Coric, but Raonic only saved two of the five break points he faced. Coric saved six of eight.
The all-time series between Coric and Raonic is now even at one win apiece.
Rublev and Coric will met Sunday in the tournament final.