Felix Auger-Aliassime avoided a fifth set on Thursday, but not a long night on the court as he advanced to the third round of the Australian Open against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
The ninth-seeded Canadian had to dig deep to get past the Spaniard 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 7-6(4) in four hours and 19 minutes at Kia Arena .
Auger-Aliassime, who started his season captaining Team Canada to ATP Cup glory in Sydney, had looked down in the first round before making a five-set comeback against Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori. His clash with Davidovich Fokina also threatened to go to the end, but the world No. 9 held his nerve to win three of the four tiebreaks to continue.
It was his serve that came to the party against Davidovich Fokina. Auger-Aliassime hit 28 aces in a match as tight as the scoreboard suggested, with just two service breaks for both players.
Davidovich Fokina showed the kind of spunk that saw him make his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Roland Garros last year (left to Zverev), nearly recovering from a 6/2 deficit in the third set tiebreak.
Auger-Aliassime was able to see it though and after an exchange of pauses in the fourth, sealed the win with one of the best runs of the game, stretching at the net to get a passing shot from Davidovich Fokina. to achieve.
There have been inconsistencies in Auger-Aliassime’s all along, and he will try to reduce his 83 unforced errors in his third round match against Daniel Evans. The British 24th seed, who defeated Auger-Aliassime in the 2021 Melbourne ATP 250 final in their only previous meeting, advanced to the third round on Thursday after Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech withdrew from their match due to a wrist injury.
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Five-time finalist Andy Murray was unable to conjure up more Melbourne magic as he was defeated by Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel at the John Cain Arena on Thursday night.
The Japanese World No. 120 maintained a high level throughout, winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 against the former World No. 1, who never found his rhythm.
Murray had shown good form in the match, reaching his first tour-level final in Sydney last week (l. to Karatsev) and disposing of 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round in Melbourne. However, the five-time Australian Open finalist could never settle for Daniel, who won 79 percent of the points behind his first serve.
One to remember
🇯🇵 @Tarrodaniel93 defeats Andy Murray 6-4 6-4 6-4 to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2022
Murray and Daniel had only previously met in a Davis Cup tie in 2016, with the Briton winning in straight sets before losing just five games. It couldn’t have gone any differently in Melbourne, where Daniel kept up the level throughout and also got some help in the form of 49 unforced Murray racket errors.
The Japanese player, who won his only ATP Tour title in Istanbul in 2018, will then face American Steve Johnson or 11th-seeded Jannik Sinner in his first Grand Slam appearance in the third round.