Felix Auger-Aliassime was left bloodied but unbeaten Monday after he caught himself with his racquet during his 7-5, 6-4 victory against Francisco Cerundolo at the BNP Paribas Open.
At 2-0 in the first set, the Canadian accidentally struck himself on the chin when returning the Argentine’s serve. The 22-year-old immediately walked to his chair where he was bandaged up before returning to court to book his spot in the fourth round after two hours and 10 minutes.
Auger-Aliassime, who defeated Pedro Martinez in his opening match, played aggressive, front-foot tennis throughout the clash. He hit through Cerundolo and overcame a late wobble when trying to serve out the match. After failing to hold at 5-2, the eighth seed eventually sealed victory at the second time of asking, converting his fifth match point to improve to 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.
Auger-Aliassime is chasing his first ATP Masters 1000 crown and maiden tour-level title of the season this week in California. He is up to No. 7 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his 10th win of the season.
The four-time tour-level champion has advanced to the quarter-finals at the past five ATP Masters 1000 events he has played and will aim to make it six when he takes on Tommy Paul. The 22-year-old is aiming to jumpstart his season in Indian Wells, after suffering early exits in Adelaide, at the Australian Open and Dubai earlier this year.
The American Paul continued his impressive start to the season when he downed ninth-seeded Pole Hubert Hurkacz 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
In front of a lively home crowd, Paul demonstrated great agility, scrambling around the baseline to withstand Hurkacz’s heavy ballstriking and advance after one hour and 54 minutes.
“I stuck to the game plan more in the [second set],” Paul said. “The first set I don’t think was very pretty tennis overall. I played a sloppy game at 4-5 and went to the bathroom and gave myself a couple of slaps and came out and brought some more energy.”
Paul, who hit 26 winners against Hurkacz to level their ATP Head2Head series at 1-1, is currently No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings after enjoying a positive beginning to the year.
Paul reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January before he advanced to the final in Acapulco. He now holds a 14-4 record on the season, having defeated Jan-Lennard Struff in his opening match in Indian Wells.
Moving like the 🌬️‼️@TommyPaul1 with some outrageous defence today 👇
40% #StealScore was 🔑 today.#StealScore calculates how often a player has won the point when they are in defence during the point.#TennisInsights | @atptour | @BNPPARIBASOPEN https://t.co/JTw99OAmue pic.twitter.com/OXnHjAOGil
— Tennis Insights (@tennis_insights) March 13, 2023