Despite letting slip an opportunity to serve out the match against Lloyd Harris and later facing two set points against him, Auger-Aliassime beat the South African 6-3, 7-6(4) to reach the quarter-finals in Stuttgart.
“It’s not often you serve for the match with two match points and you lose it. But I remember Federer’s final [at] Wimbledon two years ago and I thought to myself, ‘Well if it happens to him it can also happen to me, and I can try to find a way to win,’” Auger-Aliassime said. “We’re humans and it’s normal that sometimes the nerves get to us closing out a match. It was difficult for me at 5-4 to try to settle down again and find a way to get a good level and win the second set. But I think I did well.
“I’m happy the way the match ended. I think the most important is to win the last point of the match, so I did that, I played a great tie-break, so I can be happy with how I finished. And now I have an opportunity to fight for another win tomorrow.”
Two years ago, Auger-Aliassime reached the Stuttgart final, the Queen’s Club semi-finals and the third round at Wimbledon. The 20-year-old was happy to make a winning start to his 2021 grass-court season against a dangerous opponent in Harris, against whom he saved nine of the 10 break points he faced. Next up will be sixth seed Ugo Humbert, who beat wild card Yannick Hanfmann 7-6(9), 6-2 earlier in the day.
“It was a good way to start for me. In the end, the most important is to find a way to win and to try to go to the next round and keep going in the tournament,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I always feel comfortable on the grass, I think it suits my game well. Hopefully I can keep on winning and go really far this week and in the upcoming tournaments as well.”