Former Montpellier champ Bublik reaches SFs, Rune advances
Second seed Bublik to meet Auger-Aliassime on Saturday
February 02, 2024
Alexander Bublik in action on Friday in Montpellier.
By ATP Staff
Alexander Bublik is still alive at the Open Sud de France – Montpellier.
The former champion moved past Alexander Shevchenko 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in an-all Kazakhstan clash at the ATP 250 indoor hard event in France on Friday.
“He is an upcoming player. He has beaten a lot of top players already. I was putting every effort in and I got lucky at the end,” Bublik said. “I didn’t serve any double faults on the break points and I am happy with the win.”
In a heavy-hitting first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair, Bublik thundered 15 aces and crucially saved three break points when serving for the match at 5-4 to advance on his second match point after two hours and eight minutes.
Bublik, currently No. 27 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, lifted the trophy in Montpellier in 2022. The three-time tour-level champion will continue this week’s title challenge in the semi-finals on Saturday against third seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who ousted French wild card Harold Mayot 7-5, 6-1.
Shevchenko was aiming to reach his second tour-level semi-final after advancing to the final in Metz last year. It was just the second time two Kazakhstani players reached the quarter-finals at an ATP Tour event. The last time came in 2013 in Moscow, where Mikhail Kukushkin advanced to the final and Andrey Golubev the quarter-finals.
Auger-Aliassime, 23, was dominant behind his serve to march past Mayot in one hour, 19 minutes. The Canadian struck 10 aces and fought off the only two break points he faced to reach his first semi-final of the season. He will next look to extend his 2-1 Lexus ATP Head2Head record against Bublik.
“To get three breaks in the first set means I was returning really well and then it was just adding the serve to that,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Then being a bit more consistent, a bit more patient and disciplined. I felt like I was playing really good.”
In the top half of the draw, Holger Rune overcame a tight battle against Michael Mmoh, defeating the American 7-6(6), 6-4 after two hours and two minutes. A pivotal moment came for Rune when he fought off a set point at 5/6 in the first-set tie-break, erasing Mmoh’s chance with a 123 mph serve which the World No. 133 failed to return.
The 20-year-old Rune continued his momentum, winning 16 of his 18 first-serve points in the second set, to reach his second semi-final of the season (Brisbane final). When the Dane defeated Pablo Llamas Ruiz in the second round, it marked Rune’s 100th career tour-level victory. A quarter-final victory on Friday was met with another reason to celebrate.
“When I got the break in the second set, I was thinking, ‘I need to get the win because today is my sister’s [Alma] birthday,” said Rune, who will next face fourth seed Borna Coric or Flavio Cobolli. “I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to give a great gift by winning a match.”