Auger-Aliassime, who entered the tournament as a late wild card, won the clash of the heavyweights in Basel, beating Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 7-6, 7-6 in the final on Sunday. As expected, the near two-hour serving feast did not feature a single break of serve.
The Canadian tallied more aces (13 to 12), higher first-serve points won (93% to 81%), and hammered more winners (43 to 28). Considering his appalling run of results coming to the event, the week in Basel is undoubtedly a rare chink of sunlight in what has been a disastrous campaign for a player with Top 10 ambitions. So how did the man from Montreal get his season back on track?
Get His Health In Check
Auger-Aliassime never shied away from accepting criticism for his performances and took it on his chin. As he admitted during an interview with the Canadian press midway through the season, he was looking to unlock his "physicality" but because of frequent injuries in the first half of the season, that wasn't possible.
During tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells, and Miami, he battled a knee injury. In Lyon, he picked up a shoulder injury forcing him to retire in the quarterfinal, hardly getting any preparation for Roland Garros, where he would lose to Fabio Fognini having barely gotten any sleep in the preceding night due to a stomach bug.
A first-round defeat to Michael Mmoh at Wimbledon was a blessing in disguise as Auger-Aliassime took an early flight home. There, he was able to examine the damage on his knee and train in more relaxed surroundings, and it certainly has paid off.
Go Back To Basics
The serve is Auger-Aliassime's biggest asset. If opponents can neutralize his serve, they stand a great chance to upset him. With injuries to his knee and shoulder, he wasn't able to get a stable base to transfer his power. His shoulder control was lacking, and Auger Aliassime accounted for so many double faults during his rough patch, but his serve placement was also wanting.
Once he managed to overcome the niggling injuries that held him back, results began to stream. His serve became the cornerstone of everything good he did. Not only that, but his forehand, which had malfunctioned badly in the first half of the season became the most feared shot in his arsenal.
Auger-Alissime needed that shot to save a match point in the quarterfinal against Alexander Shevchenko, pinning the Russian on the baseline with a series of heavy forehands hit at great length to draw a crucial unforced error.
At the start of October, Auger-Aliassime had not won back-to-back matches on the ATP Tour since March. But he arrested that famine run with a quarterfinal finish in Tokyo and his reaction after that spoke of his determination to get back to his previous level.
Confidence in tennis is all about winning tennis matches. That happened in Basel where Auger-Aliassime came up trumps with some breathtaking performances. Apart from that rousing comeback against Shevchenko, the 23-year-old lived up to the billing as the tournament's defending champion, earning a couple of Top 20 effortless wins to win the title.