An 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime has continued where he left in Miami, defeating Cordoba champion Juan Ignacio Londero 7-5, 7-6 in an hour and 58 minutes after a great battle for Masters 1000 victory number ten. Just like against John Isner in Miami, Felix had the advantage in both sets but he had to grab them in a harder way despite losing serve only twice.
The Argentinian couldn't do much on the return, especially behind Felix's first serve, and he dug deep to stay in contention, fending off six out of nine break points to extend the match as much as possible. The Canadian was off to a perfect start, delivering four easy holds and a break at love at 2-1 to gain the lead and serve for the set at 5-3.
Unchallenged so far, Felix suffered a break in that ninth game while serving for the set, letting Londero in before breaking him again in game 12 for a 7-5. A teenager moved 5-3 up in set number two after a deep return that Juan Ignacio failed to control, wasting two match points in the next game to get broken, just like in the opening set.
Londero saved another match point at 5-6 to set up a tie break where he stayed in contention until 5-5 when Felix hit a return winner that gave him the crucial mini-break, sealing the deal with a service winner to secure the place in the second round where he will face Alexander Zverev.
Competing in only the ninth match of the season, Marin Cilic suffered the fifth loss when Guido Pella toppled him 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 in two hours and 16 minutes for only the tenth Masters 1000 win. Guido stunned Marin at Wimbledon last year from two sets to love down and he was probably the favorite in this one considering the form of the Croat and number of matches he played so far in 2019.
Cilic had more winners but also more than 50 unforced errors, firing only a few service winners and losing the advantage in both the shortest and more extended rallies to hit the exit door after the opening match. Serving under 50% and landing seven double faults, Cilic plagued his chances and got broken eight times after a terrible performance on the second serve.
On the other hand, Pella gave serve away five times and dominated in the decider to cross the finish line first, losing a tight second set and trailing 1-0 in the decider before shifting into a higher gear for the place in the last 16.
The only American in the draw, Taylor Fritz earned the tenth Masters 1000 win when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was forced to retire while trailing 6-4, 2-0, struggling with a back injury and leaving the court after 57 minutes. Jo played in the final in Marrakech on Sunday and didn't have enough time to recover, struggling to find his shots right from the start and deciding to retire without risking more serious injury.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert scored the first win over Fernando Verdasco, ousting the Spaniard 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 32 minutes for Masters 1000 win number 12. The Frenchman sailed through his service games, handing his game only once and earning three breaks to propel himself over the finish line.