Holger Rune snaps Felix Auger-Aliassime’s streak and gains Paris Masters final
Holger Rune ended a 16-match winning run for Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach his first ATP 1000 final at the Paris Masters.
Rune snatched the impetus early in a meeting between two of the in-form players on the ATP Tour.
The Next Gen star used his aggressive groundstrokes to dictate play wherever possible and heap pressure on the Auger-Aliassime serve.
Rune converted three of eight break points to wrap a comprehensive 88-minute win.
“It was an unbelievable match from my side today,” said Rune after his triumph.
“I really was sticking to the game plan for the whole match and just taking every chance I got.
“Putting Felix under pressure, that’s what my game plan was all about, and I managed to do it almost perfectly.
“I am super proud how I handled everything.”
Having blown past Hubert Hurkacz, Andrey Rublev, and then downed World No 1 Carlos Alcaraz he overcame Auger-Aliassime to win his fourth match in Paris.
Rune will aim to achieve a fifth Top 10 victory in as many days in Sunday’s championship match.
His opponent will be six-time Paris champion Novak Djokovic or Stefanos Tsitsipas.
A win for Rune would lift the 19-year-old into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday.
Saturday’s semi-final was the second meeting between Rune and Auger-Aliassime in six days, following the latter’s straight-sets triumph in the Basel final on Sunday.
Yet the Canadian could not match Rune’s intensity or quality in Paris as the Dane convincingly halted Auger-Aliassime’s unbeaten run.
“I saw some statistic that [my] backhand is going well in this tournament,” said Rune when asked about his dominant win.
“So I tried to use that a little bit, especially against Felix who has such a great forehand and serve.
“It’s good to play the game more on that side, and that was what I tried to do.
“To put pressure there, move him around, and it worked really well. I really feel the groundstrokes, the returns were much better than I did the last time I played.”
“I have to give him a lot of credit,” reflected Auger-Aliassime. “He kind of exposed weaknesses in my game.
“He was just playing so aggressively without missing. I haven’t seen or I haven’t played many players that were this aggressive and hitting that hard, that deep.”
Rune was unable to break the Auger-Aliassime serve across two tight sets in Basel but he was able to forge a breakthrough in just the third game of the match this time around.
A combination of some smart returning and Auger-Aliassime netting a straightforward forehand drive volley on break point gave the Dane a 2-1 lead, and he held on comfortably to claim a set in which he made 89 per cent (24/27) of first serves.
Despite some flashes of the brilliance that has powered him into the ATP Tour Finals, Auger-Aliassime struggled to match the level he had shown throughout his remarkable winning streak.
The Florence, Antwerp and Basel champion could find no way to regularly counter Rune’s forays to the net, and the Dane raced to a 4-0 lead in the second set en route to completing his 18th tour-level win in 20 matches.
That strong recent record includes Rune winning his second ATP Tour title in Stockholm, in between runs to the championship match in Sofia and Basel.
Rune’s exploits this week in Paris have lifted the 19-year-old six spots to No. 12 in the ATP Live Rankings.
The Dane’s excellent performances have also strengthened his position as one of the favourites for next week’s Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
READ MORE: Who is Holger Rune and is he the next big thing in tennis?
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