Roger Federer loses Rotterdam record to Felix Auger-Aliassime


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Roger Federer loses Rotterdam record to Felix Auger-Aliassime

Gael Monfils has been the player to beat during the indoor swing this February, winning the title in Montpellier last week and reaching another final in Rotterdam, his 31st on the ATP level overall. Just like seven days ago, the defending champion took down Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 7-6 in an hour and 45 minutes for the 12th victory in 14 matches so far in 2020, rattling off 16 sets in a row and seeking the tenth ATP title on Sunday.

Monfils fired 14 aces and faced only one break points, suffering a break but stealing Krajinovic's serve twice from nine opportunities to seal the deal in straight sets and move on. The Frenchman had 35 winners and 20 unforced errors, dominating with his serve and forehand to keep the points on his racquet and claim the pivotal points to advance into the title match.

Both players served well in the first nine games and it was Filip who cracked under pressure first, spraying errors at 4-5 and allowing Gael to seal the set with a lob winner. The Frenchman landed a backhand down the line winner in the fourth game of the second set to forge a 6-4, 3-1 advantage before wasting two game points to confirm the lead, with Krajinovic breaking back to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard.

Serving at 4-5, the Serb had to dig deep just like in the opener, repelling four match points with some brave hitting and prolonging the set and his chances. He had a 5-4 advantage in the tie break before sending an easy volley long, netting a backhand to offer the fifth match point to Gael who sealed the deal with an ace to grab the breaker 7-5 and move into the final.

In a similar match, Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 49 minutes, becoming the youngest player with four ATP finals since Rafael Nadal! The young Canadian blasted 16 aces and fended off all four break chances he had to play against, dominating with his first serve and struggling on the second but not enough to give the Spaniard any space on the return.

Carreno Busta fought well to save four out of five break points, losing edge in the first set tie break and the opening games of the second set to propel Felix through, with a teenager seeking the first ATP crown. The more experienced player had better rhythm in the opener, sailing through all six service games and creating two break chances at 5-5 that Auger-Aliassime repelled with two winners, firing three winners in a row at 4-2 in the tie break for a massive boost ahead of set number two.

There, Carreno Busta netted a backhand in the third game and that was the break Felix needed to move over the top, painting a backhand down the line winner to fend off a break point in game eight and finishing the job with four winners at 5-4 to book the place in the final.