Roger Federer's grass-court preparation at the Noventi Open was cut short as he succumbed to Felix-Auger Aliassime 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in 1 hour and 44 minutes.
The Canadian rallied from a set down to comfortably progress into the quarter-final, where he will face Marcos Giron, who defeated Jan-Lennard Struff.
Facing Federer for the first time in his career, the twenty-year-old fired 37 winners to just 15 unforced errors, backing up his performance from Stuttgart, where he made the final last week.
For Federer, the loss represents his first-ever loss in the second round at Halle, and he heads into Wimbledon with just two matches on grass, along with a W:5 L:3 record for the season so far.
Quick Match Recap
Auger-Aliassime won the toss and elected to serve. He kicked things off with a service hold to love for 1-0.
Federer also started confidently by holding to fifteen and quickly went one better in game four, firing down a 1 minute and 7-second love hold for 2-2.
Serving at 2-3, two forehand errors saw Federer slip to 15-40, but he saved both breakpoints with some smart serving and then held for 3-3.
In the sixth game, Federer missed a makeable pass at 15-30, but in the blink of an eye, he'd rifled a forehand winner and then threaded a backhand pass down the line to break for 4-3.
The Swiss consolidated the break for a 5-3 lead and then came through a scruffy service game, saving two break points, one with a backhand drive volley to take the opening set 6-4.
Auger-Aliassime started set two with a solid hold to fifteen for 1-0, but Federer was soon level.
At fifteen all in game three, the best rally of the match looked to be going Federer's way, but the ball checked on him, and he netted the forehand passing shot that would have been a winner had it cleared the tape.
The Canadian held for 2-1 and then had a look at three break points after some sloppy Federer play. Federer knuckled down to save them, and after another deuce, he finally held for 2-2.
In the sixth game, Auger-Aliassime came up with a super stretch forehand to make 30-30, and although he didn't convert the breakpoint at 30-40, he finally found a way through with a deep ball down the middle which Federer's couldn't handle.
The break was consolidated with a hold to love, and the man who shares the same birthday with Federer was soon level at one set all.
Federer found himself down 0-40 in the opening game of the final set, failing to make a single first serve in those opening three points, but after tracking down a drop shot to save the first, he made deuce.
However, a mistimed backhand into the tramlines gave Auger-Aliassime another bite of the cherry, and Federer handed him the break with another backhand error that cleared the baseline.
A 1-minute 12-second love hold consolidated the break, and FAA was soon up a double break as an out of sorts Federer missed a simple volley to drop serve for 0-3.
With Federer languishing at 36% first serves in play for the set and winning just 1 of 5 points behind it, a hold looked unlikely, but he landed three first serves in a row to move up 40-0 and eventually held for 1-4.
Auger-Aliassime wasn't to be denied, however, and comfortably held his final two service games, firing down an ace on match point to take the decider 6-2.
|Felix Auger-Aliassime||Roger Federer|
|1st Serve||70% (48/69)||67% (61/91)|
|1st Serve Points Won||88% (42/48)||62% (38/61)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||62% (13/21)||53% (16/30)|
|Break Points Saved||0% (0/1)||80% (12/15)|
|Service Games Played||14||13|
|1st Serve Return Points Won||38% (23/61)||13% (6/48)|
|2nd Serve Return Points Won||47% (14/30)||38% (8/21)|
|Break Points Converted||20% (3/15)||100% (1/1)|
|Return Games Played||13||14|
|Service Points Won||80% (55/69)||59% (54/91)|
|Return Points Won||41% (37/91)||20% (14/69)|
|Net Points Won||63% (10/16)||74% (14/19)|
|Total Points Won||58% (92/160)||43% (68/160)|
Thoughts on the Match
I felt like I needed time to digest the third set. Like in Geneva, I was unhappy with how it ended. I'd rather take my time to come in. Not sweaty and in the heat of it. I took my time because I didn't want to say the wrong things played by emotions. I'm not sure what I’m gonna say in these moments That’s the reason why. Federer on why he took a long time to arrive for his press conference.
An interesting loss here, and while not surprising given where both men sit at the moment on tour, I thought Federer had a decent chance to come through.
The first set was exceptionally close in terms of how it played out, and it reminded me of a typical Sampras set where he serves well and then manages to string together some returns to break.
That's what Federer did; he won just five return points in the set, with four of them in one game to secure the sole break.
However, Felix had plenty of chances of his own with four breakpoints, but he didn't win any of the big points. That was a combination of going for too much, Federer serving well, and struggling to handle Federer's slice into his forehand, which he tried to rip back with too much topspin resulting in errors.
However, in set two, after knocking on the door in the first set, Auger-Aliassime got his rewards as he broke through when Federer's numbers dropped off. Roger won just 59% behind his first serve compared to 75% in the first set.
From there, his level never recovered, allowing Felix to take advantage of his serve not finding its spots and his groundstrokes lacking potency.
It wasn't a disaster of performance and on grass, you can get picked off quickly but Federer didn't look like he had the answers in that third set which was disappointing.
Based on that it doesn't exactly augur well for Wimbledon and there are questions over what level he can produce / and how long he can sustain it. Yet given such a small sample size of matches, and the decent performance at the French it's still early in the season to write off his chances. Onward we go!
It was not a good attitude from my side. I was disappointed in the way I was feeling on-court, the way things were going, that I'm not getting better spells and all that stuff. I think the whole difficulty of the comeback got to me as well a little bit, how much I have to push on every point, try to make things happen. I realised it was not going to be my day. There was nothing I could do. I started to get really negative and this is not normally how I am. It's not something I'm happy about and proud about.
At the same time, if you look at my, whatever, 1500 matches I've played, these things can happen. The good thing is that I know it won't happen the next time, and the next time and the next time that I'm gonna be on the court. I think that's also one of the reasons I wanted to take the time between the matches and the press conference to truly understand why did I feel this way. Speak to Ivan a little bit, just figure it out. And then straight away, head up, look forward, don't make any silly decisions right now. Just stay positive and we take it onto the next goal which is clearly Wimbledon. Federer on his disappointment
- Serve dropped off after a strong start
- Too many forehand unforced errors
- It didn't look like he had much energy or desire to grind it out in the third set
What did you guys think of Federer's level against Felix Auger-Aliassime? What can we expect at Wimbledon? Let me know in the comments.