Advantage Auger-Aliassime in tight ATP Finals race

Delight for Felix Auger-Aliassime

Felix Auger-Aliassime took a step towards the ATP Finals in Turin with victory in Florence.

The Canadian came into the tournament just outside the qualification places but moved back up to seventh thanks to his victory over American J.J. Wolf.

The championship was his second on the ATP Tour.

It had taken Auger-Aliassime nine finals to lift his first trophy at this level.

However, in just his second championship match since, he added a fresh trophy to his collection.

He defeated Wolf 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday to win the Firenze Open.

Top seed Auger-Aliassime lost just one set en route to the trophy in Florence, and defeated World No. 75 Wolf in one hour and 41 minutes.

“It never gets old. Winning, it always feels like the first time,” Auger-Aliassime said in his on-court interview.

“It’s so special to win, especially here. I had a fantastic week and it’s been amazing.”

It was a critical week for Auger-Aliassime’s hopes of qualifying for the ATP Finals, which will be played from 13-20 November.

Just one week after Taylor Fritz moved into the final qualifying position by triumphing in Tokyo, Auger-Aliassime surged past the American into seventh in the Race To Turin.

Auger-Aliassime now has a 180-point lead over the American.

The Young Canadian touched down in Florence following a straight-sets loss to Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round of the Astana Open, but quickly regained his confidence as the tour returned to Flossie.

He would lose his serve just four times on the path to victory and powered past opponents with a wide variety of styles such as the aggressive Oscar Otte, big-hitting Brandon Nakashima, all-around Lorenzo Musetti and baseliner Wolf.

“Every final is tough, it’s the two best players of the week,” Auger-Aliassime said.

“Of course you try to win more than you lose the finals and that’s why I came out here today ready to give everything. We had some very tough rallies in the second set, feeling tough physically. But you keep pushing, try to keep the level high.

“But there’s no magic. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but of course I’m really happy because I came here [as] the first seed. I was the favourite in all of my matches on paper. It’s never an easy position, so to come out and win my four matches with confidence and conviction, it’s really good for my confidence.”

The Championship match got off to a rollercoaster start with three consecutive service breaks as both players searched for rhythm on the indoor hard court.

It was Auger-Aliassime who proved more consistent and he earned more opportunities on his opponent’s serve through the match.

After losing his first service game of the match, Auger-Aliassime did not give up another break point.

“I had a good start first game and then a bit of a tight first service game,” Auger-Aliassime. “But then after I felt like I was playing really good tennis, serving unbelievable. Probably the best [I served] all week, so just really happy right now.”

Wolf fought manfully and even saved nine of the 12 break points he faced, but it was not enough.

He tried to trade powerful blows with Auger-Aliassime and showing little fear of striking from right on the baseline, or stepping into returns against the Canadian’s serve.

Auger-Aliassime just maintained too high of a level throughout the match though and was more comfortable in those power-filled rallies which fed his confidence.

He sealed his victory with his 11th ace, after which he quickly turned to his team to show his joy.

Auger-Aliassime will also return to the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings when he climbs to World No 10 on Monday.

READ MORE: Nick Kyrgios praised for realising his potential and ‘being a really good mentor to a lot of kids’

Latest