Zverev Passes Felix Test

Alexander Zverev navigated a tricky opening match at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Wednesday, beating #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-4.

The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion, who reached the semi-finals in the Principality last year (l. to Nishikori), converted six of seven break points to book his place in the third round. Zverev has now collected seven wins from 10 matches at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.

In one of the picks of the second round, Zverev made 96 per cent of returns to apply consistent pressure to his opponent and claim his second victory on clay this year. Auger-Aliassime entered the match with great confidence, having risen 75 spots in the ATP Rankings already this year, following runs to the Rio Open presented by Claro final (l. to Djere) and the Miami Open presented by Itau semi-finals (l. to Isner). But Zverev quickly proved why he has reached three of the past four ATP Masters 1000 finals on this surface, notching his 12th victory of the year (12-5) after one hour and 18 minutes.

Zverev can complete the set of clay Masters 1000 titles in Monte-Carlo this week. In 2017, Zverev defeated Novak Djokovic at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia to capture his maiden Masters 1000 crown and also triumphed last year at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Thiem) with a dominant week on serve, facing just one break point en route to the title.

Zverev got off to the perfect start on Court Rainier III, setting the tone with a cross-court backhand passing shot to break in the opening game. From 2-1, the 21-year-old claimed 16 of the next 18 points, which included two love service breaks, to take a one-set lead after 30 minutes.

Auger-Aliassime responded well in the second set, attacking Zverev’s backhand at 1-1 to break serve for the first time. But the Miami Open presented by Itau semi-finalist surrendered his break advantage at 3-2 with his fourth double fault. Both men failed to hold their next service games, before Zverev held serve and capitalised on a forehand error from Auger-Aliassime to claim victory with his sixth break of the match.

This is the second straight year that Auger-Aliassime has been eliminated in Monaco by a member of the Zverev family. The Canadian, who made his event debut at No. 175 in the ATP Rankings last year, fell in three sets to the World No. 3’s older brother, Mischa Zverev.

Zverev will play Fabio Fognini for a quarter-final spot. Fognini advanced to third round by walk over, following the withdrawal of Gilles Simon (back injury). The Monte-Carlo resident leads Fognini 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with wins at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and the China Open in 2017.

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