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Auger-Aliassime picks up first win over Nadal, leaving Spaniard on verge of exit from ATP Finals

The Canadian goes 1-1,while Nadal is still in the competition and with an opportunity to be season-ending world No 1, but only just

Felix Auger-Aliassime ATP Finals Felix Auger-Aliassime ATP Finals Match 2 | © AI/Reuters/Panoramic

Felix Auger-Aliassime hit 14 aces as he handed Rafael Nadal a second defeat in two matches at the ATP Finals on Tuesday as he claimed a 6-3, 6-4 win in their Green Group encounter in Turin.

The Canadian saved break points in two games in the opening set but took his own first opportunity and then maintained his momentum in the second to pick up his first ever win over former world No 1 Nadal and his first victory at the season-ending event. It’s the first time since 2009 that Nadal has lost four consecutive matches.

“It’s a special win,” Auger-Aliassime told reporters. “It’s never easy to beat players of this calibre. So brings a lot of confidence to me.

“It’s nice to say that I was able to beat him finally, then also at this tournament. It’s not like I beat him at a lower-level tournament. It was an important win for me in this tournament to stay alive and to keep going. For these two reasons, it’s a really important win for me.”

Despite the defeat, Nadal remains in the competition, for now, but will need other results to go his way and to win his final group match to stand a chance of making the last four. If he somehow goes on to win the competition, however, he would also overtake Carlos Alcaraz as the season-ending world No 1.

Auger-Aliassime weathers early storm

Beateny by Taylor Fritz in his opener, 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal looked sharp early on, forcing two break points in the first game.

The sight of Toni Nadal, the uncle and long-time coach of Rafael, sitting in the Auger-Aliassime box as the coach of the Canadian may have been a little unsettling, but it didn’t seem to show early on.

However, Auger-Aliassime, who won three tournaments in three weeks this autumn to book his place in Turin, came up big on serve when he needed it. The Canadian found himself 15-40 down again at 3-3 but saved himself.

Then, suddenly, Nadal’s level dipped. From 40-0 up in the eighth game, he made a string of errors to give up the break and Auger-Aliassime closed out the set with a strong service game.

Early break puts Felix on his way again

Nadal looked a little forlorn as he was broken for 2-1 in the second set but he continued to fight, forcing a break point in each of the next two Auger-Aliassime games.

Again, though, the Canadian – who went 93 service games without being broken earlier this autumn, between Antwerp and Paris, found his serve when required to maintain his advantage.

“I got used to conditions a bit,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I felt like my game was better today. My serve was great but my return and backhand were much better. When I play like this, I’ve proven to myself I can compete and beat the best players in the world.”

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