The Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime lost to the German Alexander Zverev in the final of the indoor tournament in Cologne on Sunday.
Tournament favorite Zverev won 6-3, 6-3 and ended a 17-month title-less drought.
Third seed Auger-Aliassime was in his sixth career ATP Tour final and was hoping to get his hands on a first title.
Zverev noted that he and Auger-Aliassime often trained together in Monte-Carlo during the pandemic and he predicts a bright future for the 20-year-old Quebecer.
“You’re going to be lifting a championship trophy very, very soon,” the German player said during the post-match ceremony.
Auger-Aliassime, 22nd in the world, did not have the hoped-for start to the match, being broken from the start by Zverev, ranked seventh. He was also the victim of a break in service in the seventh game of the first inning.
Zverev, however, opened the door for his rival by giving him this break again in the next game, allowing Auger-Aliassime to return to 3-5. However, Zverev quickly redeemed himself by winning the first set thanks to a third break in service against the Quebecer.
Auger-Aliassime held on longer in the second set, but Zverev ultimately secured the key service break in the sixth game, giving himself a 4-2 lead.
The German then saved two breakage balls in the next game. He closed the books a few minutes later, on his first championship ball.
Zverev thus won a 12th career ATP title.
It is also for him a light balm. Zverev lost in five sets to Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the US Open final last month after wasting a two-set lead.
“I had a very difficult final in New York so I wanted to play my best tennis today, in my next final,” said Zverev.
Zverev’s last triumph was in May 2019, at the clay court tournament in Geneva. He is now 12-8 in tournament finals.
For Auger-Aliassime, it will be for another time. He still hasn’t won a single round in his six career finals, including three indoor finals in 2020.
He has also lost all three of his career duels against Zverev, each time in two sets.
It was the first of two back-to-back indoor tournaments in Cologne, following changes to the ATP schedule under the pandemic.
Zverev will be the favorites again next week, while Auger-Aliassime will be the fifth seed and face American Steve Johnson in the first round.
Ontarian Denis Shapovalov is entered for the tournament and will be the third seed, after losing in the semi-finals at the St. Petersburg Open this weekend. Shapovalov has a pass for the second round.
With the Associated Press