Paire defeats Auger-Aliassime in Lyon Open final to deny teen’s first ATP title

LYON, France — Felix Auger-Aliassime lost a swift 6-4, 6-3 decision to France’s Benoit Paire in the Lyon Open final Saturday, spoiling the Canadian teenager’s chance at his first ATP Tour title and potentially putting his health into question for the French Open.

Paire converted on 4-of-9 break points to win in one hour 22 minutes in a match that saw the 18-year-old from Montreal laboured by a groin injury.

“I had a good week even though it didn’t end the way I wanted, not playing the way I wanted or being physically well,” Auger-Aliassime said. “There’s disappointment because these finals don’t come around often but there’s a lot of positives to take from that week. Hopefully I give myself other chances for titles.”

Auger-Aliassime had soared into the Lyon final with a 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 comeback win over Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili on Friday.

He has had success in the French city in the past, winning a challenger tournament there the last two years in a row.

Auger-Aliassime was seeded fourth at the ATP 250 clay tournament, which serves as a warmup event for the French Open.

“Lyon is special for me. Every time I come here I feel like I’m at home,” Auger-Aliassime said. “They’ve been treating us well. The staff and tournament have taken great care of us. Every time you come to these events you remember why you play.”

The second Grand Slam of the season begins Sunday in Paris, where Auger-Aliassime would be seeded at a major for the first time.

He is scheduled to face Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the first round on Monday.

Auger-Aliassime didn’t make it through qualifying at the Australian Open, the season’s first Grand Slam tournament, and has yet to win a main-draw match at a major in his career.

Auger-Aliassime bowed out of last year’s French Open in the second round of qualifying.

He has enjoyed a steady climb this year, rising from No. 108 at the start of 2019 to No. 28 as of Saturday. His run to the Lyon final will put him at a career-high No. 22 when the next rankings are released, and make him the second highest Canadian on the ATP Tour — below Milos Raonic and ahead of Denis Shapovalov.

Paire’s win was his second clay-court title in two months. He also raised the trophy in Marrakech, Morocco, in April.

Paire, whose only other career title came four years ago at the Swedish Open, improved to 12-3 on clay this season entering the French Open.

“I expect a lot for Roland Garros now,” said Paire, who opens against Marius Copil in Paris. “(I want to) win a lot of matches. … If physically I feel 100 per cent, I hope I can go to the second week because for a Slam it would be my first time in Paris, so that’s my goal.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Who is at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19? Firefighters, drivers, pharmacists, cooks

Central Alberta firefighter says virus taking toll on mental health

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Federal share is approaching $750 million annually, up from $618 million in 2012-13

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

N.S. fire crews continue battling ‘out-of-control’ Porters Lake blaze

Word of the fire first emerged early Saturday afternoon

Technology, representation butt heads amid debate over resuming Parliament

The Liberals are now proposing four meetings a week until June 17

Procession for Snowbirds crash victim makes its way through Halifax

The 35-year-old military public affairs officer and Halifax native died in the crash

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada as of May 23

There are 83,621 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada

Procession for Snowbirds crash victim to make its way through Halifax today

The military public affairs officer died in the Snowbirds Tutor jet crash in B.C. last Sunday

Employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

Only eight per cent of employers were fully prepared to restart operations, survey finds

Liberals table proposal for expanded Commons COVID-19 meetings, summer sittings

OTTAWA — The Liberals have tabled a proposal that would see expanded… Continue reading

Most Read