An 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime has made an impressive debut on grass, beating Ernests Gulbis and Gilles Simon for the fifth quarter-final of the season, making another big step towards the top-20. Felix toppled Simon 7-5, 6-4 in an hour and 30 minutes, suffering two breaks and delivering four to stay on the title course in his first event after skipping Roland Garros.
The youngster moved in front in the third game of the match after a double fault from Simon who broke back at love in game eight to level the score at 4-4. Trailing 5-4, Auger-Aliassime had no room for errors and he did a marvelous job, breaking Gilles in game 11 and securing the opener with an ace in the next game for a 7-5 after 45 minutes.
Just like in the opener, the Canadian moved in front with a break in the third game in set number two, squandering a couple of break chances in game seven before Simon pulled the break back in game eight for more drama. The youngster was not to be denied, though, hitting a backhand winner to break Gilles in game nine and closing the encounter with an ace a few minutes later.
"It was a difficult match, it is never easy to play against Simon as he makes you work and think. I was able to start really good and serve well before those three games where I couldn't find myself, like losing 12 points in a row, and it was tough to come back.
The key was to stay tough mentally and recover from those tricky moments in both sets and win the last couple of games. I'm surprised a little bit to adapt to grass so easily, it has been treating me well, I had great experience on it in juniors but it was while ago and these rivals are different and much more experienced.
I'm very excited to play Dustin Brown on Friday, it is always a little bit of show and he is a good friend. Hopefully we will have a good battle for everyone."