US Open: Auger-Aliassime 'ready to attack biggest stages of tennis'

By Sports Desk September 07, 2021

Canadian 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime feels "ready to attack the biggest stages" of tennis after becoming the first male player born in the 2000s to reach a major semi-final.

Auger-Aliassime advanced to face second seed Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals on Friday after a 6-3 3-1 walkover win over Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz who succumbed to an upper right leg injury after back-to-back five-set wins.

The 21-year-old Canadian, whose previous best performance at a major was reaching this year's Wimbledon quarter-finals, has defeated Alcaraz, Francis Tiafoe and 18th seed Roberto Bautista Agut on his way to the last four.

Prior to this year's Wimbledon, Auger-Aliassime had never gone beyond the fourth round at a major.

"There's one part, I'm feeling more and more confident playing in these big stages," he told ESPN. "It doesn’t get much bigger than this. When you get comfortable on this court [Arthur Ashe Stadium], everything else is a bit lower.

"I've tried to switch my mentality over the past year to try to be more consistent with my focus, my confidence and my inner self belief. I feel I've grown a lot as a person and a player and now I feel like I'm ready to attack the biggest stages of our sport."

Auger-Aliassime labelled the career milestone as "amazing", albeit coming with a "weird ending" as Alcaraz retired without any major signs of injury beforehand.

The Canadian will take on 2021 Australian Open runner-up Medvedev, who defeated Auger-Aliassime in their only previous meeting in 2018.

"He's one of the best players, he's the most solid on hard courts probably right now with [Alexander] Zverev and Novak [Djokovic]," Auger-Aliassime said during his on-court post-match interview.

"I'm going to have to play my best tennis, try to mix things up, maybe come in a lot, try to see what I can do to disturb him."

Auger-Aliassime's triumph also means two Canadians have reached the men's and women's semi-finals at the same major for only the second time, following Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard at Wimbledon in 2014.

He joins Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez who defeated fifth Elina Svitolina in three sets to continue her dream run at the US Open reaching the last four.

"It's fantastic. She's amazing," Auger-Aliassime said about 19-year-old Fernandez. "I watched her match again today, I really hope the best for her.

"She's a great person, she's got great heart. I'm really happy all her hard work is paying off. I hope we keep going."

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  • I’ll never doubt my strength again – French Open champion Iga Swiatek I’ll never doubt my strength again – French Open champion Iga Swiatek

    Iga Swiatek gained new-found belief in her own strength after coming through an intense struggle to beat Karolina Muchova and complete her French Open hat-trick.

    The 22-year-old Pole cemented her status as the best female player in the world, particularly on clay, with her third title in four years at Roland Garros.

    But this was by some distance the hardest of her grand slam finals, with unseeded Czech Muchova battling back from a set and 3-0 down to force a decider.

    Muchova twice led by a break in that but Swiatek refused to be beaten, eventually prevailing 6-2 5-7 6-4 after two hours and 46 minutes and crouching down on the clay in tears.

    “I’m feeling all these different emotions right now,” said Swiatek. “It’s pretty surreal, everything. But the match was really intense, a lot of ups and downs. Stressful moments and coming back. So I’m pretty happy that at the end I could be solid in those few last games and finish it.

    “But Karolina really played well. It was a big challenge. I’m happy and really proud of myself that I did it.

    “This one, for sure, it was a little bit tougher in terms of injuries and the pressure, and also coming back to this tournament as a defending champion.

    “I’m happy that I finished the whole clay court swing so well and that I kind of survived. I guess I’m never going to doubt my strength again.”

    Swiatek is the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to successfully defend her title on the Paris clay and joins Naomi Osaka on four grand slam titles – veteran Venus Williams with seven is the only active player to hold more.

    Swiatek equals Osaka and Monica Seles, meanwhile, as the only women in the open era to win each of their first four slam finals.

    Muchova, a 26-year-old ranked 43, produced the performance of her life to beat second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals, saving a match point and fighting back from 5-2 down in the deciding set.

    She made a slow start and it looked set to be another comfortable ride in a slam final for Swiatek but from 3-0 in the second set the momentum shifted.

    Muchova began to impose her clever game a lot more on the match while Swiatek tightened up, double-faulting to hand her opponent the chance to serve for the set at 5-4.

    Muchova could not take her first opportunity but another shaky game from Swiatek gave her a second chance and this time she made it over the line, clinching her third set point after a stunning all-court rally.

    Muchova has struggled badly with injuries during her career and it was only last year that doctors told her she might have to give up the game.

    She rode her momentum at the start of the decider by moving into a 2-0 lead as Swiatek threatened to implode but the 22-year-old pulled herself together quickly to level.

    They exchanged breaks again in the seventh and eighth games and Swiatek regained the ascendancy when she fought off another break point to hold for 5-4.

    The pressure of serving to stay in the contest proved too much for Muchova, who made three errors before double-faulting on match point in a cruel end to an absorbing final.

    Swiatek said: “I felt pretty confident with my game in the second set but I also knew that it’s only one break. So I needed to stay constantly aware and ready for everything, especially playing against Karolina, knowing that she’s come back from really crazy situations in this tournament.

    “In the third set I didn’t want to have any regrets about the second. I just kind of looked forward, and I said to myself, ‘OK, I’m just going to give it all. No thinking, no analysing, just play my game, use my intuition’, and that really helped.”

    Muchova was overcome with emotion at the trophy ceremony while Swiatek had to have two goes at lifting the trophy after dropping the lid on the first attempt.

    “I honestly felt like I’m holding it with my finger, so I guess all these emotions caused that,” said the Pole.

    “Sorry, I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I’m glad that Suzanne Lenglen trophy is fine and it won’t happen again probably, but we’ll see. I just hope I’m going to have a chance to hold it again in future years.”

    Muchova was left with mixed emotions, saying: “The feeling is a little bitter, because I felt it was very close, a close match.

    “But overall, to call myself a grand slam finalist, it’s an amazing achievement, and for sure big motivation for me to work in the future and to get a chance again to play for these big titles.”

  • French Open day 14: Swiatek defends title with gritty win over Muchova French Open day 14: Swiatek defends title with gritty win over Muchova

    Iga Swiatek survived her biggest grand slam final test yet to lift the French Open trophy for a third time.

    The Pole withstood a Karolina Muchova fightback to triumph 6-2 5-7 6-4, claiming her third title in four years in Paris and fourth slam overall.

    There was British success for Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid in the men’s wheelchair doubles and Andy Lapthorne in the quad wheelchair doubles.

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    Seventeen-year-old Tokito Oda defeated Hewett 6-1 6-4 to win the men’s wheelchair singles title.

    Future stars

    The junior titles were decided on Saturday, with 15-year-old Russian Alina Korneeva making it back-to-back grand slam successes, while Croatian Dino Prizmic ended his junior career with his first slam trophy.

    Who’s up next?

    Novak Djokovic bids for sporting immortality in the men’s singles final on Sunday.

    The 36-year-old will aim to become the first man ever to win 23 grand slam singles titles, while he would also be the first man to win all the majors at least three times.

    Standing in his way is Norwegian Casper Ruud, who is going for a first slam crown in his third final.

  • Andy Lapthorne claims victory in French Open quad wheelchair doubles Andy Lapthorne claims victory in French Open quad wheelchair doubles

    Andy Lapthorne was furious to miss out on watching his beloved West Ham win a European title but secured compensation in the form of a second French Open trophy.

    The Londoner teamed up with South African Donald Ramphadi to beat Heath Davidson and Robert Shaw 1-6 6-2 (10-3) in the quad wheelchair doubles final.

    Lapthorne had tickets for the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday, and said: “I was absolutely fuming with the tournament referee here. He’s not going to hear the end of that for a long time, because he didn’t let me know that we wouldn’t be playing on the day of the game.

     

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    A post shared by Andy Lapthorne (@andylapthorne_)

    “If I would have known that, I would have been on a plane to Prague. But we won. That’s all that matters, and I was absolutely buzzing. I go to most games, home and away, and been going with my dad and my brother for donkey’s years and we’ve never won anything.

     

    “To see my dad and my brother get to experience that on Wednesday was very special, very emotional. I can’t wait to get home to celebrate that. Was inspiring and just so pleased for everyone involved.

    “We’re back in Europe again next year so I’ll be going and following the team all over the place again and complaining about disabled access in places like Serbia and stuff again.”

    Lapthorne and Ramphadi toppled the first and second seeds to win the title, giving the British player his 16th slam title overall and the South African his first on his 30th birthday.

    “It’s been a tough few weeks in my personal life,” said 32-year-old Lapthorne. “I don’t need to go into it, but it’s been very difficult. This game sometimes has a way of reminding you why you love it.”

    Alfie Hewett missed out on a fourth singles title at Roland Garros and lost his world number one ranking to Japanese teenager Tokito Oda but teamed up with Gordon Reid to win the doubles for the fourth year in a row.

    An emotional Oda, 17, produced a brilliant display on Philippe Chatrier to win 6-1 6-4, ending Hewett’s hopes of winning three slam singles titles in a row.

    Hewett and Reid have dominated the doubles category in recent years and won their 17th title together and 12th in the last 14 tournaments by beating Martin De La Puente and Gustavo Fernandez 7-6 (9) 7-5.

    Hewett said: “I’m happy to finish the day on a good note. It’s never easy to come off the back of a grand slam final loss and within a couple of hours go again. I struggled a little bit with my emotions. In the end it was OK but I’m exhausted now.”

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