Felix Auger-Aliassime reaches Madrid Masters final almost accidentally

Auger-Aliassime will play Andrey Rublev in the final.
Mateo Villalba/GettyImages

No offense to Felix Auger-Aliassime, but if he and Andrey Rublev are asked what it felt like to play their way into the Madrid Masters final, Rublev is going to have a much better answer. Maybe there was a meeting of players before the Masters 1000 and Auger-Aliassime drew the lucky short straw. He has made it to the final without having to do much of anything in his final two matches.

Rublev, on the other hand, had to defeat Carlos Alcaraz and Taylor Fritz to get into the final. He dropped the first set against Alcaraz but then stormed back to win the final two sets. The Russian proved once again he is an excellent player overall, but an especially good one on clay. Of his 15 career titles, six of them have been on clay.

Auger-Aliassime, though, defeated Jakub Mensik in the round of 32 after winning the first set 6-1 and then watching Mensik retire at 1-0 in the second set. The Canadian then defeated a very good clay court player in Casper Ruud in the round of 16, so well earned. But Jannik Sinner pulled out of his matchup with Auger-Aliassime due to a hip injury in the quarterfinal and the Canadian then had his semifinal opponent, Jiri Lehecka, retire at 3-all in the first set with a back injury.

Felix Auger-Aliassime could have stayed in his hotel room and almost done as well at the Madrid Masters

Again, no offense to Auger-Aliassime, but one cannot argue he fought his way to the final. He almost could have stayed in what one can assume is a lovely hotel room in Madrid, watched a few episodes of Break Point, and then walked to center court to play the final against a battle-tested Rublev.

The 23-year-old Canadian has won five titles in his career, but none on clay. He has made two finals on clay, but both were in 2019 at Lyon and Rio. Before Madrid, Auger-Aliassime had a career record on clay of 35-33 and he can hardly dispute that most of the victories he has gotten at his current event have been earned.

Meanwhile, Rublev is now 72-36 all-time on clay. He will be the heavy favorite and has been playing under much better self-control in Madrid. We would like to say the same about Auger-Aliassime, of course, but hardly anyone has seen him play a full match. That isn't his fault, obviously, but he should still wonder how he has been so lucky.

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