In a stunning display of resilience and skill, Felix Auger-Aliassime has once again captured the attention of the tennis world, proving his mettle by successfully defending his Swiss Indoors Basel title. Despite a challenging season marked by a 17-18 tour-level record, the Canadian star showcased a remarkable turnaround, securing a hard-fought victory with a 7-6(3), 7-6(5) win against the formidable Hubert Hurkacz in the ATP 500 final this Sunday.
Entering the tournament, Auger-Aliassime's season had been less than stellar, with just one semi-final appearance to his name, which came in February at Doha. However, the 23-year-old, who has been grappling with injury issues, demonstrated remarkable tenacity and self-belief throughout the week in Switzerland.
Losing only one set on his way to clinching the trophy, he showed the tennis world that he is a force to be reckoned with. Auger-Aliassime's journey has not been without its challenges; he lost the first eight ATP Tour finals of his career.
Nevertheless, he has turned the tide, winning five of his past six championship clashes—a testament to his unwavering determination and skill. “I’m definitely back,” declared Auger-Aliassime in his post-match interview.
“I’ve let my racquet do the talking. That's always been the guiding principle of my career. I've believed in my potential to be a top player since my childhood. However, this year has been riddled with doubts regarding my performance.
Today, I am elated to have proved to everyone, and myself, that I still hold a place among the world’s best players, and that I can compete at this level”. This victory was more than just a personal triumph for Auger-Aliassime; it also had significant implications for the Nitto ATP Finals qualification race.
Hubert Hurkacz, his opponent, saw his hopes for a spot in the prestigious tournament dwindle as a result of this match. A victory for the Polish player would have placed him just 15 points behind Holger Rune, who currently holds the eighth and final qualifying position.
Now, Hurkacz finds himself entering the Rolex Paris Masters with a 215-point deficit.
Felix Dominates, Hubert Endures
The match itself was a riveting affair, with Auger-Aliassime demonstrating control and dominance throughout, particularly with his serve.
Despite two tie-breaks, the Canadian remained unflinching, losing only nine service points across both sets. Hurkacz, on the other hand, faced physical challenges, struggling with an apparent left leg injury, though he chose not to call for medical attention.
The 26-year-old Polish player showed commendable grit, saving all five break points he faced, including four in the crucial second set. Even with a mini-break lead in the second-set tie-break, he couldn’t prevent Auger-Aliassime from seizing victory.
“I’m delighted for your victory," Hurkacz graciously stated during the trophy ceremony. "While I wished for a different outcome, there’s no denying that you truly deserved this win. This season has been tough for you, but you’ve proven yourself to be an outstanding player.
Your performance here is a testament to that”. For Auger-Aliassime, this victory represents more than just a title defense; it’s a significant leap in the right direction. Starting the week at 53rd in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, he climbed to the 29th position with this win.
While he may not qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals this year, he’s shown that he’s back in form and ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead. Reflecting on his journey and the obstacles he’s overcome, Auger-Aliassime shared, “This year has been filled with tough times and new challenges, especially being away from the court and managing to play through injuries.
Despite the challenges, this victory feels even more special than the last. The first title of the year is always the sweetest, and I’m going to savor this moment”. As the first Canadian to defend an ATP Tour title since Milos Raonic’s victories in San Jose in 2011 and 2012, Auger-Aliassime has indeed marked his place in tennis history, reminding everyone of his exceptional talent and unwavering spirit.