Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime opens with win at Barcelona Open

Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, in action during the Miami Open. (AP/file)

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime shook off his recent rust to win his opening match at the Barcelona Open on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old Auger-Aliassime, ranked No. 9 in the world and seeded third in the event, withstood a spirited challenge from Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberne to claim a 6-1, 3-6 and 6-4 clay-court victory.

“It was unfortunate that I lost my rhythm a little bit in the second set, lost my serve too many times, but I credit him also for defending well, showing a great level for a clay-court player,” Auger-Aliassime said.

The Montreal native landed 71 per cent of his first serves with seven aces, while Taberner, the world No. 94, connected on 81 per cent of his first serves but had no aces.

Auger-Aliassime slumped into the tournament, with just one win in his previous four events.

His recent struggles followed a highly successful start to the season that saw him help Canada win the ATP Cup, move on to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, win his first ATP title in Rotterdam and advance to the final in Marseille.

Auger-Aliassime will meet American Frances Tiafoe, the No. 13 seed, on Thursday.

Tiafoe advanced to the Round of 16 with a 7-6, 6-1 win over Bolivian qualifier Hugo Dellien on Wednesday.

--With a file from The Associated Press

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