Felix shoots Melbourne in fourth round | TBEN | Tennis

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Felix Auger-Aliassime continued his battle in Friday’s Australian Open draw with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory against 28th seed Francisco Cerundolo. After coming from behind in each of his first two wins in Melbourne, the Canadian was never left behind at the John Cain Arena and advanced to the fourth round for the third straight year Down Under.

The sixth seed got off to a blistering start, racing to a 5-0 lead, in stark contrast to his previous matches against Vasek Pospisil and Alex Molcan, losing the opening set – as well as set two in the second round against Molcan.

“I had a great start compared to my first two rounds, so this was better,” he said after the race. “It gave me a bit of a foothold. There will be ups and downs against tough opponents. I played a bit tight and didn’t go for it in the second set, and he did, so all credit to him.

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“I’m happy with the way I turned things around and I think the last two sets were probably some of my best so far this tournament.”

Cerundolo claimed the second set by dragging Auger-Aliassime to longer rallies, securing his only two breaks of the game in back-to-back plays. But the Argentinian was unable to generate a break point in any other set as his opponent’s fast tennis kept him in control.

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While Auger-Aliassime may have been disappointed not to take any of his seven late break opportunities late in the fourth set – three of which doubled as match points – he ended the match with authority and secured victory with his ninth ace.

“Pure relief and happiness,” said the Canadian of his feelings after the victory. “I’ve played well here in recent years, for the third time in a row in the Round of 16. I have fond memories, especially on this pitch, it’s one of the best crowds in the world.”

Finishing in two hours and 35 minutes, the third round match is the shortest of the 22-year-old’s tournament to date. He will then face 11th seed Cameron Norrie or Jiri Lehecka.

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Auger-Aliassime reached Melbourne’s quarter-finals for the first time last year, giving a two-set lead over eventual finalist Daniil Medvedev in a heartbreaking defeat. The pair could play in the semifinals again these two weeks. Should Auger-Aliassime reach that stage, it would be his best Grand Slam result (US Open 2021).

Although he is stable at No. 7 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week, Canadian Rafael Nadal can lead at No. 6 with another win in Melbourne.

Cerundolo, 24, offered to extend his best major run; he had failed to progress past the first round in four previous Grand Slam appearances. The Argentinian won his first Tour title in Bastad last year, where he took his first Top 10 victory against Casper Ruud.

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