The Canadian fired past Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-3 to reach the second round in Rotterdam. The third seed saved the two break points he faced to advance to a second-round clash with Frenchman Gregoire Barrere after one hour and 22 minutes.
“Of course I was hoping to win and get through, but 6-2, 6-3 is a great performance against a player that is tricky like he is, or competitive like he is,” Auger-Aliassime said. “He always fights and he always hangs in matches, so for me to win without dropping my serve and in this fashion, it’s a great way to start the week.”
When Auger-Aliassime arrived in Rotterdam last year, he had not yet claimed an ATP Tour title and lost his first set of the tournament against Egor Gerasimov. He had no such difficulty against Sonego, whose spinny groundstrokes allowed the four-time tour-level champion to crush ball after ball from the baseline.
The defending champion also showed good feel around the net throughout the match to take a 2-0 ATP Head2Head lead against the Italian.
“Last year was an amazing year, but this year is a different one. I think I’m a better player overall,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Of course the best thing I can do compared to last year is win again, so hopefully I can do that. The draw is really strong, but I’m confident if I can keep playing the way I did today I’ll get my chances and then we’ll see.”
Hubert Hurkacz needed three hours to battle through the first match of the day, eliminating Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 6-7(7), 7-6(4). Bautista Agut had won the pair’s first three tour-level meetings, but Hurkacz saved six of the nine break points he faced to move on.
In other action, two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev ousted South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon 6-4, 7-6(4) behind 10 aces. The German saved all three break points he faced and will next play Dutch wild card Tallon Griekspoor, who clawed past Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer 7-6(7), 7-5.
“Every match for me is very important right now and obviously playing against very high-level players and having wins against them I think is very important for my confidence as well,” Zverev said. “We’ll see how this week goes, but I’m definitely excited for just every match that I’m going to play here.”