If you lose match points and then drop the set, you are probably going to be in trouble in the decider. But Botic van de Zandschulp proved that is not always the case on Saturday.
Despite letting slip three match points at 6-5 in the second set, the Dutchman remained composed to upset ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-3 in three hours and 16 minutes for a spot in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Before last year’s US Open, van de Zandschulp had never been to the United States. But the Dutchman is certainly looking comfortable in this country. He advanced to the US Open quarter-finals and has now ousted a Top 10 player in the California desert.
The first time Botic played Felix was last November in Stockholm, where Felix cruised to a 6-4, 6-3 win. But despite the thin air in the desert, the courts play relatively slow, which allowed van de Zandschulp to win some points Auger-Aliassime had been in control of.
All was going to plan until late in the second set, when Auger-Aliassime played daring tennis to save three match points at 5-6. Botic was unable to put too much pressure on him in those moments, and Felix was at his aggressive best to get out of trouble and eventually win the set.
Auger-Aliassime appeared to have all the momentum, while Van de Zandschulp seemed frustrated with his missed opportunity. But Felix lost his concentration for just a moment at the start of the decider, which made all the difference.
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The Canadian dropped his serve in the first game of the third set, missing a neutral backhand to donate the break. Van de Zandschulp took full advantage and on his fifth match point, he put away a backhand volley into the open court to triumph.
Auger-Aliassime recently won his first ATP Tour title in Rotterdam and is now 15-5 on the season.
Cilic led 6/4 in the final-set tie-break, but he missed a backhand return long and then missed a short forehand approach shot wide.