Despite entering the week with a 17-18 tour-level record this season, the Canadian successfully defended his Swiss Indoors Basel title with a 7-6(3), 7-6(5) win against Hubert Hurkacz on Sunday in the ATP 500 final.
Auger-Aliassime had made just one semi-final in 2023, and that came in February in Doha. But the 23-year-old, who has struggled with injury, grew in confidence throughout an impressive week in Switzerland, where he lost only one set en route to the trophy. Auger-Aliassime lost the first eight ATP Tour finals of his career, but he has now won five of his past six championship clashes.
“I’m definitely back. I let my racquet talk. That’s always been the motto of my career. I’ve had the conviction that I can be a top player since I’m a kid, but there were many doubts this year about my performances and why,” Auger-Aliassime said in his on-court interview. “I’m happy that I was able to prove to everybody that I still belong among the best players in the world, that I can play this level. I never doubted it, but it’s good to confirm it on the court.”
The match went to two tie-breaks, but Auger-Aliassime seemed in control for almost the entire encounter. The Canadian dominated behind his serve, losing just nine service points across both sets. Auger-Aliassime hit a big backhand return that Hurkacz could not handle to close out the opening set and maintained that determination throughout.
From early in the second set, Hurkacz was limited in his movement and often grimaced as he seemingly dealt with a left leg injury, for which he did not call the physio. The 26-year-old battled valiantly to save all five break points he faced, including four in the second set, and even led by a mini-break in the second-set tie-break.
But Auger-Aliassime would not be denied his first title of the season. The 23-year-old closed out the match like he did the first set, with a big backhand return.
“I’m happy for your victory. Obviously I wish the result was different, but definitely you deserved it,” Hurkacz said during the trophy ceremony. “It was definitely a tricky season for you but you’re an amazing player. You proved it here.”
Auger-Aliassime began the week 53rd in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and with the title climbed to 29th. Although he cannot qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, it was a big step in the right direction for the 2022 Turin competitor. The huge smile on his face after shaking hands with Hurkacz spoke to how much the moment meant.
“A lot of tough times. It was a new challenge this year being away from the court, trying to manage, play tournaments through injuries with painkillers and things like this and still today actually,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It’s been a tricky year overall, but this feels extra special, even more than last year. I think with the first title [of the year] is the sweetest for sure. So I’m going to enjoy this one.”
Auger-Aliassime is the first Canadian to defend an ATP Tour title since Milos Raonic won the San Jose title in 2011 and 2012.