Returning to the court three months and two days after his last match against Dominic Thiem in Monte Carlo when he had a match point, the 4th seed and the defending champion Andrey Rublev is through to the quarter-final following a hard-fought 6-4 6-7 6-3 triumph over another talented youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime in two hours and 30 minutes. Felix is the youngest player in the draw and he scored his second ATP win in the opening round, looking good to reach the quarters before he lost the last five games of the match to send Andrey through.
The Russian defended his second serve in a more efficient way, saving six out of nine break points and creating 13 chances on the return, converting five to emerge as a winner. Playing for the first time after such a long break, Andrey found the groove right on, serving at 79% in the first set and never facing a break point to keep the pressure on Felix.
The Canadian struggled to impose his shots and to keep the points on his racquet, playing against seven break points and losing serve at love in the very first game of the match when his backhand landed long.
He saved all remaining break points but that was enough only to keep him near Andrey who closed the set with a service winner in game 10 after 43 minutes.
They traded four breaks at the start of the second set (Andrey was 2-1 up before hitting a double fault to get broken in game four) and they went into a tie break after another break point that Rublev saved at 3-4 to keep himself on the positive side of the scoreboard and set up a tie break.
There were no mini-breaks in the opening nine points and Auger-Aliassime moved 6-4 ahead after a great point and Andrey's drop shot error. A backhand down the line winner sealed the deal for the Canadian in the 11th point and he was ready for more of the same in the deciding set, breaking in the first game when Rublev netted a backhand.
Felix moved 3-1 up with two commanding holds but Andrey managed to end his downfall in game six when he fired a backhand down the line to level the score at 3-3 and grab all the momentum. The Russian moved in front with a great forehand attack in the next game and he could smell the victory when he broke Felix at love in game eight.
A wide backhand from Auger-Aliassime delivered the set and the match for Rublev in game nine that meant a lot to him after such a long break, looking for more of the same in the rounds to come. Second round results: