ABN AMRO World Tennis TournamentATP 500

Felix Auger-Aliassime Wins Maiden ATP Title in Rotterdam

The young Canadian and NextGen player cruised to victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas, winning 6-4, 6-2.

On Sunday, Felix Auger-Aliassime crushed Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Rotterdam Open to win his first title. The stakes were high as Auger-Aliassime endeavoured to win a maiden championship after falling just short in eight previous tournament finals.

Tsitsipas, meanwhile, was attempting to re-establish his place among the top NextGen contenders, after a relatively disappointing end to 2021 and a bruising four-set defeat, at the hands of Daniil Medvedev in the 2022 Australian Open semi-finals.

The competition had already heated up earlier this week when both players faced three-set matches in the semi-finals.

Tsitsipas lost his first set against Jiri Lehecka, who used serve-plus-one tactics and judicious aces to quickly end the point, leaving no chance for his opponent to build momentum in the rally.

However, in the second and third sets, Tsitsipas came back to win by increasing power on his groundstrokes and hitting aggressive shots down the line, using his footwork to create inside-in winners.

Lehecka began to make more unforced errors, as he was unable to deal with the speed of the balls, which found their way near his feet and were challenging to put back into play. Tsitsipas’s boost in aggression helped win the match 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Auger-Aliassime also fought against the odds against defending champion Andrey Rublev. Though Auger-Aliassime hit a barrage of forehands from the baseline, the Russian stayed defensive and absorbed the pressure until his opponent made an unforced error.

Rublev squeezed victory in the first set after a nail-biting 7-5 tiebreak. He faked an aggressive return position close to the line but then fell back during Felix’s ball toss to hit a high topspin return and get a firm grasp in the exchange. Slowly building dominance, Rublev used his forehand to move Auger-Aliassime around and forced an error, closing out the tiebreak.

Auger-Aliassime’s groundstrokes became more reliable in his second and third sets, gradually constructing the point and hitting winners from a position of strength.

He increasingly varied his tactics, coming into the net and taking time away, using the slice backhand to deny his opponent rhythm and deploying the inside-out forehand taking Rublev by surprise. Through this, Felix came back to win the match 6-7, 6-4, 6-2.

The last round of the tournament was completely different, with Auger-Aliassime storming to victory in straight sets.

In a surprise move, Felix broke his opponent’s serve in the opening game and held his own for the rest of the set.

The Canadian made deep returns that were hard to put back in play, the last of which bounced high around Tsitsipas’s shoulders, forcing an error and converted breakpoint.

Felix continued to keep the pressure on Tsitsipas with a mixture of serving tactics, making use of a heavy slice out-wide, then electing to go down the “T”, outfoxing the Greek who had split-stepped the wrong way.

Tsitsipas’s rally balls were not as deep, giving Auger-Aliassime space to move forward and dominate with his powerful topspin forehand. He also leapt on Tsitsipas’s uncharacteristically weak second serves, with a return winner down the line. By the end of the set, Auger-Aliassime had hit fourteen winners to Tsitsipas’s six and made four unforced errors to his opponent’s five.

The second set was almost a replay of the first, with Felix again breaking in the opening game. Auger-Aliassime developed his rally tactics, still hitting deep to Tsitsipas, but this time moving him laterally across the baseline and denying him a firm purchase in the rally.

Felix would hit forehand after forehand into his opponent’s backhand, locking him into a defensive position on the ad side. The probability of a triumphant backhand return dwindled as Tsitsipas would finally make a forced error as the rally went on.

This also denied Tsitsipas the chance to use his forehand in point construction. Other times, Felix would suddenly change direction and hit to the deuce side, but the ball was too far away for Tsitsipas to make good contact, forcing another error.

As his confidence peaked, Auger-Aliassime locked Tsitsipas into the ad side, then finished with a rapid down the line backhand winner that was too quick for his opponent to track down.

The key to the match was at 1-3, where Felix had another breakpoint. If Tsitsipas held at this moment, it could have given him the confidence to dig in, keep the error count low, and use his forehand to gain dominance steadily.

After the epic five-set loss against Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros, it is clear that Tsitsipas has the mental strength to grind out a match, even among the dust of the French Open’s clay courts and the intense heat of Paris’s late Spring.

Here though, on Felix’s advantage, Tsitsipas could not contain Auger-Aliassime’s raw power, who leapt around what was meant to be a body serve for a penetrating inside-out forehand. Later in the rally, a deep shot to Tsitsipas’s backhand put him on the defensive, and the ball found its way into the net.

At 4-1, Felix had a double break and was on track to victory. He consolidated in his next service game by again pinning Tsitsipas in a confined backhand corner – the most dependable tactic that had worked in the match so far. An ace closed out the game for a 5-1 lead.

Tsitsipas managed to hold serve and stay alive for another game until it was Felix’s chance to serve out the match. Auger-Aliassime’s feet were nimble, enabling him to get into a good position to hit the return with interest, and dance towards short balls, setting up a winner.

At 40-0, Felix had three match points. But he only needed one; a strong backhand cross-court made Tsitsipas hit another error, and the Canadian won his first ATP title.

auger aliassime rotterdam winner 2022

Match Stats

  Stefanos Tsitsipas Felix Auger-Aliassime
Aces 1 7
Double Faults 4 0
First Serve 31/55 (56%) 28/44 (64%)
1st Serve Points Won 23/31 (74%) 26/28 (93%)
2nd Serve Points Won 8/24 (33%) 11/16 (69%)
Break Points Saved 3/6 (50%) 0/0 (0%)
Service Games Played 9 9
1st Serve Return Points Won 2/28 (7%) 8/31 (26%)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 5/16 (31%) 16/24 (67%)
Break Points Converted 0/0 (0%) 3/6 (50%)
Return Games Played 9 9
Net Points Won 3/6 (50%) 7/7 (100%)
Winners 7 20
Unforced Errors 8 8
Service Points Won 31/55 (56%) 37/44 (84%)
Return Points Won 7/44 (16%) 24/55 (44%)
Total Points Won 38/99 (38%) 61/99 (62%)
Serve Max Speed 215km/h (133mph) 211km/h (131mph)
1st Serve Average Speed 201km/h (124pmh) 202km/h (125mph)
2nd Serve Average Speed 160km/h (99pmh) 168km/h (104mph)

Auger-Aliassime vs. Tsitsipas Rottterdam 2022 Highlights

Can Tsitsipas come back from his Australian Open exit and Rotterdam defeat for a successful 2022 season?

And is this the start of a long list of titles from Auger-Aliassime, where he begins to threaten other top players like Stefanos? Let me know in the comments below.

Alex Nulliah

My name is Alex Nulliah and I am a tennis writer from Bath. I enjoy writing about tennis, International Relations and anything else which takes my interest. At Exeter University I took a BA in History and an MA in Applied Security Strategy. I love playing tennis.

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9 Comments

  1. Good for Felix to finally get the monkey off his back after 8 final losses. I can’t get excited about his tennis from a viewing perspective but I think he will be up there this season.

    I wasn’t able to watch but not a good returning day for Tsitsi. 2 of 28 on first serves. Just watched the highlights, Felix looked sharp movement wise but Tsitsi needs to learn that short block return like Fed and take it much earlier. He was hitting chip returns from way behind the baseline, no way you get away with that.

  2. I don’t want to take anything away from Felix’ wonderful achievement, but for me Tsitsipas did not play a good game. There may be several reasons for this, i.e that Felix played too good, etc but Stef was not himself… Fact is he lost and Felix deserves the title. Congrats Felix!

  3. Tsitsipas is now playing Netflix, not tennis. Being a hype lover and having ego bigger than common sense, he may lose more, because it’s visible, he watches into Netflix cameras and tries to deliver something sensational to play the first role in the Netflix documentary.
    Well, his problem.
    Felix has recently added to his game, what have cost him so many final losses. More self-belief, more aggression )maybe good job from Toni Nadal). This added to his power hitting and accuracy does not make him an exciting player but he will win more.
    I was more happy for clowning Tsitsipas losing than solid Felix without brilliance winning.
    Stef was very much himself. Not in the game but in playing his Netflix role.

  4. Didn’t see the match but it is good that new young players are making their mark.I like Tsitsipas and hope he can do well,even perhaps win at the French.

  5. I have been a big Auger-Aliassime fan for many years, and it was great to see him play an aggressive style and to be consistent throughout the match. He has the tools to be a top player and he now seems to have the necessary confidence. At the beginning of the season I predicted FAA would win two titles this season, but that may be on the conservative side. I also predicted that he would reach No. 7 in the year-end rankings, and that looks very likely.

  6. Thanks, Alex. As Jon says, I’m glad FAA has finally got the monkey off his back – it was getting a bit ridiculous.

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