RIO DE JANEIRO – Canadian tennis player Felix Auger-Aliassime, 18, advanced to the second round of the Rio de Janeiro Open on Tuesday, the only ATP 500 tournament in South America, after winning 6-2 and 6-3 against Italian Fabio Fognini, the second seeded.
The young Canadian, 104th in the ATP world ranking, became the biggest surprise of the tournament by eliminating, against all odds, the only one player who had played in all six editions of the Rio Open.
Fognini, 31, and 13th in the ATP ranking, was runner-up in Rio in 2015 and reached the semifinals last year, arrived in Brazil as the big favorite, together with Austrian Dominic Thiem (8th ranked) after winning the ATP 250 titles of Sao Paulo, Bastad and Los Cabos in 2018.
Auger-Aliassime cleaned up the match in only one hour and 29 minutes over a Fognini who constantly protested umpire decisions, and achieved one of the main victories of his career.
The youngster was quite brave in all his ball exchanges, mainly with his serves, where he showed the strength of his right hand.
In the second round, the Canadian will face Chilean Christian Garin (ranked 91st) and 22 years old, who beat German Maximilian Marterer (95th) 7-5 and 6-3.
The elimination of Fognini in Brazil comes in addition to that of Italian Marco Cecchinato (17th), champion of the Argentine Open on Feb. 17,who was the third seeded in Rio de Janeiro.
Cecchinato lost 7-5 and 7-6 (7-1) to the Slovenian Aljaz Bedene (83).
Austria’s Dominic Thiem, favorite of the Rio de Janeiro Open, also was eliminated in his short debut against Serbian Laslo Djere, who won 6-3, 6-3.
Djere, number 90 in the world ranking, only needed an hour and 20 minutes to become another big surprise of the Rio Open.
The Serb, who has not yet won an ATP title in his career, easily dispatched the Austrian, who last week reached the semifinals at the Argentine Open.
The Austrian showed problems from the first minute of the game and after the third game, when he already was behind 2-1, he asked for medical attention after complaining of neck pain.