RIO DE JANEIRO — Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime isn’t getting too far ahead of himself at the Rio Open as he prepares for his first ATP tournament final.
The 18-year-old from Montreal advanced to Sunday’s championship game after defeating 2016 tournament champion Pablo Cuevas of Argentina 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the semifinals.
"I wouldn’t say I’m a heavy favourite, maybe to the crowd I’ll have their support," Auger-Aliassime said Saturday. "I feel like, yes, I can probably go all the way."
The Canadian faces Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the final for the first career matchup between the two. Djere advanced in a walkover after Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene withdrew because of a right leg injury.
Auger-Aliassime is the youngest ATP 500 finalist since the level was first established. He said he doesn’t want to just be remembered for a title when he’s 18, but rather have a good career.
"It’s going to be a tough match," Auger-Aliassime said.
He broke Cuevas once in each of the sets for the victory on Saturday while saving 5-of-7 break points and winning 74 per cent of his first serve points.
The match was a tough one, Auger-Aliassime said.
"I feel like he (Cuevas) came back really strong physically in the second set," he said. "I felt a lot of pressure from him."
Auger-Aliassime was a wild card entering the tournament and upset No. 16 Fabio Fognini of Italy in the first round.
Currently ranked No. 104 in the world, Auger-Aliassime could be in the Top 50 if he wins the tournament title when the latest rankings are released Monday.