Canada's Auger-Aliassime falls to Norway's Ruud in National Bank Open quarter-final

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime is out of the National Bank Open after dropping a 6-1, 6-2 decision to Norway's Casper Ruud in quarter-final play Friday at IGA Stadium.

Last remaining Canadian singles player defeated 6-1, 6-2 in front of home crowd

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime congratulates Casper Ruud of Norway for his win in quarter-final play at the National Bank Open tennis tournament in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Felix Auger-Aliassime stood at the back of the IGA Stadium hardcourt with one hand on his hip and a look of astonishment on his face.

Casper Ruud managed to get his racket on an overhead smash late in Friday's quarter-final against the Canadian, the return floating over Auger-Aliassime's head and inside the baseline.

Auger-Aliassime scrambled back but his shot found the net. Nothing was working for him on this day — not even the tennis equivalent of a slam dunk — in a 6-1, 6-2 rout that lasted just 74 minutes.

"[My] first two matches were good, some positive things," Auger-Aliassime said. "I never thought it would be ending like this today."

The sixth-seeded Auger-Aliassime entered play without dropping a set this week but he came out flat on an overcast afternoon. Ruud, the No. 4 seed from Norway, wrapped up the first set in a brisk 36 minutes and took the partisan crowd out of the match.

Auger-Aliassime, from Montreal, made 21 unforced errors to just eight for Ruud, who advanced to his third Masters 1000 semifinal of the season.

"It was a perfect day for me at the office," Ruud said.

Ruud who will next play No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-1 winner over Nick Kyrgios.

Auger-Aliassime was hoping to become the first Canadian to reach the semifinals at this ATP Tour event since Denis Shapovalov in 2017. The last Canadian to win this tournament was Robert Bedard in 1958.

"It's super disappointing to lose any tournament like this and especially here," Auger-Aliassime said.

WATCH | Montreal's Auger-Aliassime ousted in quarter-finals at National Bank Open:

Auger-Aliassime falls in quarter-finals at National Bank Open

4 months ago
Duration 1:56
The Montreal native lost 6-1, 6-2 to Norway's Casper Ruud to be ousted from the National Bank Open.

In the night session, Britain's Daniel Evans beat American Tommy Paul 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta topped British qualifier Jack Draper 7-6 (4), 6-1.

Auger-Aliassime couldn't get on track despite regular urging from the near-capacity crowd. He was shanking more shots than usual and his mistakes came at critical times.

With a powerful forehand and effective two-handed backhand, Ruud was clinical in his attack and relentless with pressure. Auger-Aliassime was forced to his heels and had to settle for a defensive style.

The Canadian gave up two quick breaks in the second set before finally holding serve to get to 1-4.

"To right away lose my service game, then another one ... from three-love it really felt like the worst possible outcome today," Auger-Aliassime said. "At that point it gets really tough.

"I tried my best, but he was also getting more and more comfortable and confident, so then things get much more difficult."

Hurkacz gets past Wimbledon finalist Kyrgios

Earlier in the day, Hurkacz took advantage of two double-faults by Kyrgios early in the third set for the first service break of their match. He rolled from there to end the Australian's nine-match winning streak.

"Nick is a super opponent, he can make every single shot," Hurkacz said. "He doesn't really have that many weaknesses, if any. I was just trying to serve [well] and stay aggressive."

There was no wasted energy from Kyrgios, who played like he had a cab waiting outside the venue.

He'd usually bounce the ball just once and go right into his service motion. The pace of play agreed with Hurkacz, a six-foot-five right-hander who matched the Australian's power game.

Both players had break opportunities but tiebreakers were needed to settle the first two sets.

Kyrgios, who dispatched defending champ and world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the second round, slowed in the third set and his serve lost some of its zip.

"I'm not a machine, I'm a human," Kyrgios said. "My knees were sore, my back was sore, my abdominal [area] was sore. I was trying to stay moving, but I just stiffened up."

Kyrgios entered play with wins in 15 of his last 16 matches, with the only defeat coming to Novak Djokovic in last month's Wimbledon final.

The semifinals are set for Saturday and the final of the US$6.57-million tournament goes Sunday. The winner will earn just over $915,000.

2-time champion Halep moves on to semifinals

Simona Halep is a two-time National Bank Open champion, last winning the Canadian title in 2018. But the 30-year-old says she's an entirely different person now.

The Romanian moved on to the tournament's semifinal after beating Coco Gauff of the United States 6-4, 7-6 on Friday afternoon. Halep said she has evolved on and off the court since she won what was then called the Rogers Cup four years ago.

"I've changed a lot, as a person as well," said Halep, who also won the event in 2016. "As a player, I don't know what exactly I did but I feel like I improved in many aspects. Then the pandemic came so I think it was a little bit of a struggle for everybody.

"But I'm a better person. I'm a better player. So this helps me and gives me confidence to work hard."

The top six seeds in the tournament were eliminated by the Round of 16, making the seventh-seeded Pegula the top-rated player at the WTA event. She downed Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-3 in their quarter-final match.

Halep and Pegula have never played each other before. During her post-match news conference Halep glanced at a nearby television where Pegula was playing for match point against Putintseva.

"It's going to be a big challenge to face a new opponent, but it's always like that," said Halep. "But it's going to be a semifinal so for sure she's going to play good tennis.

"She's solid. She's at the top already."

Ottawa's Dabrowski advances to doubles semifinal 

Later, Ottawa's Gabriela Dabrowski and partner Giuliana Olmos of Mexico defeated Andreja Klepac of Slovenia and Chile's Alexa Guarachi 2-6, 6-2 (10) to advance to the doubles semifinal.

Dabrowski and Olmos will play American Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Australia's Ellen Perez in the semifinal.

The quarter-final between Halep and Gauff on Friday was the only one at the National Bank Open with two seeded players. Gauff was the tournament's 10th seed and Halep is 15th.

Halep is now 4-0 in singles matches against Gauff on the WTA Tour. She said that the 18-year-old American is becoming increasingly dangerous as an opponent.

"She's a bit stronger. She hits stronger and the serve was much stronger today. Her backhand is always hard," said Halep, who last played Gauff in Madrid earlier this season. "I think she improved a lot since we played last time."

In the night session, Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil ousted 12th-seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. On Thursday, Haddad Maia beat top-ranked Iga Swiatek of Poland.

In the late match, 14th-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic played Zheng Qinwen of China.

With files from The Associated Press

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