The first two rounds of the Australian Open were a challenge for Félix Auger-Aliassime, but it seems that they helped the Canadian find his top form.
Auger-Aliassime showed no ill effects from his two early-round duels on Saturday in Melbourne as he raced past a well-rested Dan Evans in straight sets to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the second year in a row.
Evans had received a free pass in the second round when his opponent withdrew, but it was Auger-Aliassime looking fresher, dominating the exchanges and bullying the Brit around the court on his way to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 victory.
There were no signs of tiredness from Auger-Aliassime after his nearly four-and-a-half-hour round two battle, as he ripped 40 winners and 16 aces, while only committing 21 unforced errors. He put on a service clinic, only losing four points on his first serve. The ninth seed was also clutch on break points, saving all three he faced while converting six of seven on Evans’ serve.
The Canadian reached the last sixteen in Melbourne in 2021, where he lost a heartbreaking five-set match to Aslan Karatsev. Auger-Aliassime has reached the fourth round or better in four of his last five Grand Slam appearances.
After struggling early in the second round, needing nine minutes to hold his opening game, Auger-Aliassime started out on Saturday with three straight aces and an unreturned serve for a hold to love in just over a minute. The first six serves the Canadian struck in the match were not returned and he won his first ten service points in a row.
On return, Auger-Aliassime struck at the perfect moment, converting his first break point of the match as Evans was serving to stay in the set at 4-5. The Brit failed on a serve on volley, driving his forehand into the net to give the Canadian the first break and the opening set.
The break at the end of the set completely changed the dynamic of the match, as Evans double-faulted to give away a break in his first service game of the second set and Auger-Aliassime quickly ran away with it, taking the set in just 34 minutes.
Evans held to start the third set, but that was the end of his resistance as there was no stopping Auger-Aliassime, who was in full control of the match. From 1-0, he won the next six games in a row, breaking serve three times, to wrap up the victory in just under two hours.
For a spot in his third straight major quarter-final, Auger-Aliassime will have to go through either 2018 Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic or world No. 6 Andrey Rublev. The Canadian has never beaten either of them (0-3 vs. Cilic, 0-2 vs. Rublev).
Court 15 was cruel to Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski on Saturday, as the Canadian doubles specialist saw her Australian Open come to an end with a pair of losses on the same court.
In her first match, Dabrowski and partner Giuliana Olmos were upset in the second round of the women’s doubles by Kirsten Flipkens and Sara Sorribes Tormo.
The Canadian/Mexican pair were seeded sixth, but had their serve broken five times in the three-set loss.
A couple of hours later on the very same court, Dabrowski was knocked out of the mixed doubles competition when she and partner Hugo Nys were beaten by Bernarda Pera and Wesley Koolhof in straight sets.
With Dabrowski’s dual losses, there are no Canadian women left at the Australian Open.