World No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime suffers unexpected hammering in hometown Montreal Open at the hands of Casper Ruud.
The Norwegian, who was fined yesterday for not using the toilet during a bathroom break, crushed the Canadian rising star in just 74 minutes, disappointing the capacity crowd which was almost uniformly behind the Montreal native Auger-Aliassime.
After the match, Ruud was keen to downplay the dominant nature of the result. Instead of signing the lens of the courtside camera as is often the habit of players after a big win, Ruud wrote “margins on my side today.”
Ruud fined for not going to the toilet during Montreal Masters bathroom breakRuud fined for not going to the toilet during Montreal Masters bathroom break
In his post-match interview, he continued on the same theme, saying “it was one of those days where everything goes in one favour and luckily it was in my favour. With a player like Felix, you need to rely on some margins going your way. I didn’t expect them to all go on my side.
“It was a bit of a difficult start. I got broken but then was able to turn everything around. I hit my spots, made the shots I needed to and make him hit a lot of balls. That was the gameplan and it worked well.”
Ruud continued, ”I am sure Felix has played better than he has today. He has for sure, I have seen it before. It is a pity because he is playing at home. Maybe that was a factor, you could be nervous, but I am not going to talk for Felix. It was a big moment. This arena was full today and I am lucky I was able to win.”
While Ruud spoke of margins, there was nothing marginal about his victory.
After losing his opening service game to love, Ruud reeled off the next 10 consecutive games. Not only did he sweep through the remainder of the first set, the Norwegian was within sight of claiming the match before Auger-Aliassime next managed to win a single game.
Auger-Aliassime did inject a touch of hope when he pulled the second set back to 5-2, but Ruud was a man on a mission and closed out the match without incident.
The victory means that Ruud will rise to a career-high ATP singles ranking of No. 5, and will go as high as No. 2 if he manages to take out the tournament.
Standing in his way in the semi-final is Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, who earlier in the day beat Australian Nick Kyrgios in an exciting match. The first two sets finished in tiebreakers but Hurkacz raced through the final set and he will likely pose a sterner test for Ruud than Auger-Aliassime.
Auger-Aliassime was born in Montreal and it was a parochial crowd that expected to see their home grown superstar advance to the semi-final. Instead, many will have left disappointed, despite the impressive tennis to which they bore witness.
It is not the first time that Auger-Aliassime has failed to play his best tennis in a high profile match.
His Washington Open defeat to Marin Cilic in 2019 has gained notoriety as one of the worst matches of his young career but today’s defeat probably takes that title.
His defeats at Indian Wells, the Miami Masters and Marrakech this year have all come against unfancied rivals but there was none of the expectation that came with this home town tournament.
For Ruud, this continues a strong season. The Norwegian has now reached three ATP Masters 1000 semi-finals this year, and six in his career.