Felix Auger-Aliassime
Photo: ATP Tour

After dropping out of the first set, Quebec’s Felix Auger-Aliassime pulled himself together to defeat Alejandro Davidovich Fokinac at the Italian Open in Rome on Tuesday after about three hours of play.

Auger-Aliassime was the first to give in on his serve in a tight first set. At 11e, FAA saved a first breaking ball, but Davidovich Fokina took advantage of a second breaking ball a little later to take the lead and break the Quebecer. The Spaniard finished the job on his serve to win the first set 6-4.

Auger-Aliassime needed the therapist’s help after the round.

Then, at 11e play of the second set, Auger-Aliassime faced two breaking balls. He was able to keep his cool to win the game and make it 5-4. FAA completed the job at the tiebreaker 6-7 to force a final inning.

He took advantage of the momentum to break Davidovich Fokina in the first game of the third set to take that last set 2-6.

Shapovalov, in the knockout rounds

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov reached the knockout stages of the Italian Open on Tuesday by knocking out Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, ranked 25th in the world, in two sets of 6-4 and 7-6 (5) and 1 hour 39 minutes of play.

Ranked 13th seed, Shapovalov will face the duel winner between Rafael Nadal, looking for the 11th crown in Rome, and the American John Isner.

Eighth seed and recipient of a first-round pass, Quebec’s Felix Auger-Aliassime must face the Spaniard and 29th player in the world Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Djokovic advances without forcing

Still looking for the level of play that made him near-invincible after being off the men’s tennis circuit, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic took another step in the right direction on Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Russia’s Aslan Karatsev in his first match at the Italian Open.

First seed and in search of a sixth title in Rome, Djokovic deployed his mobility of the good days towards the end of the first set when he recovered a ball near the net’s post before sprinting to the other side, where he managed a winning volley from the backhand.

It’s the kind of point Djokovic achieved day in and day out when he came to a match close to sweeping all four majors last year and completing the calendar Grand Slam.

Playing on a court he particularly likes, Djokovic reacted by making a gesture of his hands that prompted the spectators gathered in the stands of the “Campo Centrale” to applaud even louder and, for many, to get up from their seats.

“You always hope to play exciting and beautiful points to see, win them, and celebrate with the crowd,” said Djokovic, who holds 20 Grand Slam titles in men’s singles.

“That’s what the spectators want. They want energy, exciting moments, and battles, and they want to see good tennis. »

Djokovic delivered a quality performance, committing only 10 direct fouls, compared to 36 for his opponent.

In the next round, he will cross swords with the Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka or the Serbian Laslo Djere. This duel is included in the program of the day on Wednesday.

Djokovic must at least reach the semifinals in Rome to retain the top spot in the world rankings. Otherwise, Daniil Medvedev will replace him and become the number one seed of France International, which will start in 12 days.

Djokovic missed several major tournaments earlier this year because he was not vaccinated against the coronavirus. For this reason, he was expelled from Australia before the first Grand Slam tournament of the season in January.

Still looking for the first title in 2022, Djokovic lost in the final of the Serbian Open against Russia’s Andrey Rublev. He also lost to 19-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals of the Madrid Open on Saturday.

Schwartzman passes the 1st round in pain

The finalist of the 2020 edition, the Argentinian Diego Schwartzman, had to fight to pass the 1st round by erasing two match balls before putting the Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in steps 6-2, 3-6 7-6 (3) in 2 h 45.

The No. 12 seed (15th in the world) went for her seventeenth victory of the year on clay (in 23 games), making her the most victorious in 2022 on this surface, ahead of the Spanish phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz (16 wins in 17 games).

Broken and led 3-0 at the beginning of the third set, the Argentinian had to draw on his best tennis, supporting his strikes and managing several excellent cushioning to return to Kecmanovic (31st in the world). He still had to work to save two match balls at 4-5 on his serve before concluding the decisive game.

Schwartzman will meet in the 2nd round the American Marcos Giron (60th), with the prospect of a quarterfinal against Djokovic, against whom he had lost the final in 2020.

Rublev swept by Krajinovic

Russia’s Andrey Rublev (No. 6 seed), the recent winner of the Belgrade tournament by beating Novak Djokovic in the final, was hit as soon as he entered the competition by Serbian Filip Krajinovic (2-6, 4-6).

Quarter-finalist in Madrid last week, the 24-year-old Russian was ejected in the 2nd round in less than 1h10 by the world 54th on the Roman clay where he had reached the quarterfinals last year.

In the knockout stages, Krajinovic will meet Italy’s Fabio Fognini or the match-winner between Jannick Sinner and Pedro Martinez.

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