Montrealer Félix Auger-Aliassime will have the opportunity to defend and retain his title at the Basel tennis tournament after scoring a convincing 6-3, 6-2 victory against Dane Holger Rune on Saturday.
On the way to his first final in 2023, Auger-Aliassime, 19e player in the world, was never worried against the man who occupied sixth place in the world rankings and who was the first seed of the tournament. The duel lasted only 82 minutes.
Auger-Aliassime only conceded two break chances, both in the eighth game of the second set when he was already leading 6-3, 5-2.
He saved them, added his fifth ace of the day to give himself a first match point, which he converted from the next point when Rune returned a second serve from Auger-Aliassime into the net.
“My best match in a long time. Maybe all year,” admitted Auger-Aliassime, during an interview with ATP TV, courtside.
In the final on Sunday, Auger-Aliassime will face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, who defeated Frenchman Ugo Humbert in three sets of 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5) earlier Saturday.
This will be the fourth clash between the two players. Auger-Aliassime won the first two before losing the most recent, which dates back to 2022.
This meeting between Auger-Aliassime and Rune was a replay of their confrontation in the final of the same tournament, a year ago.
On this occasion, Auger-Aliassime won 6-3, 7-5, capping a streak of three titles in as many weeks.
Since this match, the two young players had faced each other on two occasions and Rune had won in two sets each time.
A week after losing in Basel, Rune defeated Auger-Aliassime in the semi-final of the Paris Masters. A month ago, Rune did it again to Auger-Aliassime in Beijing.
In control from the start
The day after a physically demanding match – we saw him stretch both of his hamstrings towards the end of the third set – against the Russian Alexander Shevchenko and during which he even faced a match point, Auger- Aliassime showed up on the court in excellent spirits, which could not necessarily be said of Rune.
The Montrealer started the duel by winning his serve without conceding a single point. Then, in the next game, Auger-Aliassime exploited what would be his only chance to break the first set when Rune sent a forehand into the net.
Auger-Aliassime easily consolidated this break and after only 12 minutes of action, he was already leading 3-0.
Early in the first set, Rune appeared impatient and frustrated on several occasions. All this, under the eyes of his new trainer, the former German glory Boris Becker.
Auger-Aliassime never allowed Rune to regain a little confidence, completing the first set in 37 minutes without conceding the slightest chance of a break to the Dane.
The start of the second set was a continuation of the first. Serving in the opening game, Rune started by winning the first two points before losing the next four, and the game.
Here again, Auger-Aliassime easily consolidated the break, and the Montrealer could have added another break in the next game when he created three break points. Rune saved them each time to remain at the height of the struggle.
But it was too little, too late for Rune.
As for Hurkacz, 11e world player, he ended the duel on his fifth match point thanks to an ace, his eighth of the clash which lasted 2h37 minutes.
In defeat, Humbert, 28e in the world, will have had the merit of fighting. He first saved two match points in the 10e game, on his serve, and two others during the tiebreaker.
On Sunday, Hurkacz will be looking for an eighth career title, and a third in 2023.