Tennis

Auger-Aliassime's clay-court struggles carry over to Rome

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime lost 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 to No. 13 seed Borna Coric of Croatia on Monday in the opening round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

Drops 1st-round match to Borna Coric, Shapovalov advances to 2nd round

Felix Auger-Aliassime hits a backhand during his first-round match against Borna Coric of Croatia on Monday at the International BNL d'Italia in Rome. The Canadian lost 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 to his 13th-seeded opponent. (Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime lost 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 to No. 13 seed Borna Coric of Croatia on Monday in the opening round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

It was a bit of revenge for Coric, who lost to the 18-year-old from Montreal earlier this year in a Miami Open quarter-final, also an ATP Tour Masters 1000 event.

Auger-Aliassime hasn't been able to duplicate his success from the South American clay-court swing on the same surface in Europe in advance of the French Open. The 30th-ranked Auger-Aliassime is now 3-4 since his run to the semis on the hard-courts of Miami.

WATCH | Auger-Aliassime struggling on clay:

Match Wrap: Auger-Aliassime falls to Coric in Rome

3 years ago
Duration 1:32
Borna Coric defeats Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 in the opening round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

The Canadian had just one break-point opportunity against Coric, who had 10 of his own on Auger-Aliassime's serve.

Coric won 81 per cent of first-serve points, 13 percentage points higher than Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime is scheduled to play a French Open tune up event in Lyon, France next week.

In other action, fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., beat Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 7-6 (5) and will meet No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic in the second round.

WATCH | Shapovalov defeats Carreno Busta:

Match Wrap: Shapovalov advances to 2nd round in Rome

3 years ago
Duration 1:19
Canada's Denis Shapovalov beats Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 7-6 (5) at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

Karen Khachanov overcame a partisan crowd to beat Italian wild card Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-3; while last year's French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato was inspired by the home crowd to beat Alex Di Minaur 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas also eliminated Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-1.

Williams sisters set for rare battle on clay

Serena Williams looked sharper than in her previous match in March as she opened her clay-court season with a routine 6-4, 6-2 win over Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson.

Next up at the Italian Open: Sister Venus Williams in the siblings' first meeting on European clay in nearly 17 years.

Venus, who won her only Rome title 20 years ago, defeated Elise Mertens 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (4) after more than three hours, requiring nine match points before eliminating her Belgian opponent.

The Williams sisters' last match on red clay came in the 2002 French Open final won by Serena. In their last match in Rome, Venus won their second career meeting way back in the 1998 quarter-finals.

"That's crazy," Serena said. "I vaguely remember that, so I don't really remember. … We play each other a lot. Seems like every tournament nowadays we meet early. It is what it is."

Serena leads the career series 18-12.

Others advancing on the women's side included Madison Keys, Garbine Muguruza, Johanna Konta and Dominika Cibulkova.

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