The all-Canadian Australian Open final may be off the table, but the dream of bringing the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup back to the great white north is still alive and rests on the shoulders of Félix Auger-Aliassime.
But if the world No. 9 is to get his hands on that trophy, he is going to have to slay a dragon.
Tonight, or technically Wednesday morning at 3:30 am EST, Auger-Aliassime will step out onto Rod Laver Arena for a quarter-final clash with the highest-ranked player in the men’s draw and the most-recent Grand Slam winner, Daniil Medvedev.
After some shaky early rounds, including having to rally from two sets to one down in the first round and then surviving a four-and-a-half-hour second round battle, the Canadian has been playing his best tennis coming into his third consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final.
He will have his hands full with the world No. 2, however. Auger-Aliassime has never beaten Medvedev in three meetings.
The Russian dominated their most recent clash earlier this month at the ATP Cup, finishing that drubbing by winning the last nine games in a row. Previously, Medvedev beat Auger-Aliassime in the Canadian’s only Grand Slam semi-final in straight sets last September at the US Open.
The closest of their three meetings was the first one back in Toronto in 2018, when Auger-Aliassime won the opening set only to be edged in a third-set tiebreak.
It is worth noting however that Auger-Aliassime has beaten back-to-back opponents in Melbourne that he had never previously defeated, including overturning an 0-3 head-to-head disadvantage with Marin Cilic in the fourth round.
So far at the Australian Open, Medvedev has had the slightly more comfortable path, spending almost four fewer hours on court and only losing two sets, half as many as the Canadian.
|Medvedev (leads head-to-head 3-0)||Auger-Aliassime|
|Time on Court||10:17||14:07|
|First Serve % Won||83%||77%|
|Break Points Won||15||14|
Medvedev plays a style of tennis that is troublesome for Auger-Aliassime. The second seed is incredibly consistent from the baseline and commits very few errors, forcing opponents to hit through him, which is very challenging.
Auger-Aliassime possesses the firepower to blow nearly anyone off the court and has been hitting with incredible consistency over the last two rounds. If he is to pull the upset, he will need to stay calm, avoid forcing unnecessary errors, while still finding ways to end points. He will also need to maintain his high serving level from the last two rounds. Auger-Aliassime cannot give Medvedev any free points or easy openings, but the Russian is very good at forcing those opportunities.
A win would send Auger-Aliassime into his second career Grand Slam semi-final, also his second in a row. The winner of this match will meet either fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or 11th seed Jannik Sinner.