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HALLE, GERMANY – JUNE 16: Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand in his match against Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada during day 5 of the Noventi Open at OWL-Arena on June 16, 2021 in Halle, Germany. (Photo : Thomas F. Starke/Getty Images)
Roger Federer’s grass-court season is off to a terrible start as he crashed out of the Halle Open in the round of 16 on Wednesday.
Félix Auger-Aliassime played some of the best tennis of his life, beating the Swiss maestro in three tough sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
It was a stunning defeat for Federer, who failed to reach the quarterfinal round in the Halle Open for the first time in his career.
Federer suffers shock exit
Federer, who came into this encounter with an immaculate 32-0 record in the first and second rounds in Halle, looked to be on his way to another victory here after grabbing the opening set, 6-4.
He took control of the first set after converting his lone break point opportunity at 4-3 with a fantastic backhand winner down the line.
Auger-Aliassime battled back strongly, though, changing his tactics in the second set to target Federer’s backhand with his powerful serves. The move paid dividends as Auger-Aliassime managed to get easy chip returns which constantly put Federer under pressure.
The 20-year-old Canadian created five break point opportunities across two games and eventually converted one for a 4-2 advantage. He took home the second set, 6-3.
Auger-Aliassime continued his momentum into the third set, taking full advantage of Federer’s struggles with his first serve. The Swiss star’s first serve percentage took a massive dip in the decider – from hitting 73 percent of first serves in the opening set to just 58 percent in the third. That enabled Auger-Aliassime to go up a double break and open up a 4-0 lead. He kept Federer at bay the rest of the way, closing out the memorable victory in one hour and 45 minutes.
Federer dropped to 5-3 for the season with the loss as he continues his recovery from a knee injury that left him sidelined for more than a year. Federer was hoping to build some momentum here in Halle, where he has won a record ten titles. Five of Federer’s eight Wimbledon titles have come after capturing the Halle crown the same year.
That wasn’t to be the case as he met his match in Auger-Aliassime, who secured just his fourth career win against a top 10 player. The Canadian had lost 15 of his previous 18 meetings with top 10 players, making this victory against his idol Federer a major career achievement. The 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer, on the other hand, is now 69-8 in his career here in Halle.
Rublev, Kohlschreiber book quarterfinal places
Next up in the quarterfinal round for Auger-Aliassime will be American qualifier, Marcos Giron. He saved all four break point chances he faced to defeat big-serving German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-4. Struff caused a major shock in the previous round, upsetting top seed Daniil Medvedev.
Joining Auger-Aliassime and Giron in the last eight are Russian Andrey Rublev and crowd favorite Philipp Kohlschreiber. Rublev defeated Australian star Jordan Thompson, 6-4, 6-4, while Kohlschreiber outlasted Corentin Moutet of France, 6-4, 7-6 (4), to set up a mouth-watering quarterfinal clash.
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