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Tennis-In defeat Auger-Aliassime makes statement of intent

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Felix Auger-Aliassime once again found Daniil Medvedev an immovable object as he lost a titanic Australian Open quarter-final on Wednesday but the Canadian said his performance showed he is ready to battle for the sport’s biggest titles.

At last year’s U.S. Open he was easily dispatched by Medvedev in the semi-finals, but this time the 21-year-old pushed the Russian top seed to the absolute limit.

He was the better player for much of a four hour 42 minute contest and had a match point in the fourth set, and while losing a two-set lead hurt, the world number nine remained upbeat.

“I always believed I could produce what I did tonight,” Auger-Aliassime said after his 6-7(4) 3-6 7-6(2) 7-5 6-4 defeat on Rod Laver Arena.

“I showed it, but definitely it’s the difference between knowing that you have this inside of you and actually showing up and doing it and being close from winning, one point close.

“At the end of the day I think it’s a good message that I send to my fellow players, the people I’m competing with. I mean, I’m ready to test myself with the best, and I have proved it now time after time.”

The Canadian, who added Rafa Nadal’s uncle Toni to his coaching set-up last year, struck 64 winners and won 78% of points on his first serve and the only blots on his copybook were a couple of lapses at crucial times.

Against lesser players he might have got away with it but U.S. Open champion Medvedev was relentless as he produced a back-to-the-wall display to eventually prevail and take his career record over the Canadian to 4-0.

“It’s no surprise he’s where he is now. He fights, tries to find solutions,” Auger-Aliassime said. “He plays well when he needs to. I think that’s the big difference, we saw the players playing good this week, they play well when it matters.

“I think he was just a little bit more solid at times.

“I’m looking forward to the next time I can put myself in that situation again. I believe I can cross the line. I’m going to leave Australia with my head held high.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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