Thu, 09 Feb 2023

Melbourne [Australia], January 22 (ANI): Jiri Lehecka's dream run at the Australian Open continued as he defeated sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round on Sunday at Margaret Court Arena to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal on Sunday.

The Czech hadn't won a match in a Grand Slam's main draw until a week prior but defied all odds to book a spot in the quarterfinals of the first Grand Slam of the year. Lehecka overcame Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round with a commanding 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), 7-6(3) victory, credit to his hard baseline hitting and slick net play.

"Of course, all the guys I have beaten over here are incredible players and I must have played my best tennis. [I had] to show all the cards I have to beat them. Coric in the first round, [Christopher] Eubanks in the second round and Norrie, now Felix. It sounds crazy, but it's true, and I'm very happy and so excited to continue the journey," said Lehecka as quoted by ATPtour.com.

World No 71 Lehecka lost in the opening round of each of the four major tournaments last year, but he stunned several elite rivals during the first week in Melbourne. He overcame 21st seed Borna Coric in the first round and the 11th seed Cameron Norrie in the third round to end the 2022 season well and go to the Next Gen ATP Finals championship match.

The 21-year-old has a history of consistently defeating opponents who are ranked higher. He defeated Denis Shapovalov, Botic van de Zandschulp, and Lorenzo Musetti on his ATP Tour debut as a qualifier in Rotterdam last February to advance to the semi-finals, where he battled Stefanos Tsitsipas over the course of three sets.

Auger-Aliassime won his first tour-level competition at the ATP 500 event in The Netherlands, but the Canadian failed to perform at his peak on Sunday in Melbourne. That was mainly due to Lehecka, who put on an excellent all-around performance, matching Auger-power Aliassime's from the baseline and repeatedly advancing to put pressure on his rival.

Despite losing the first set, Lehecka remained calm as he attempted to win his first match against a Top 10 opponent for the fifth time. He won 80% (33/41) of the points at the net in a three-hour, 13-minute victory after recording his only break of the match late in the second set to draw the match. He then dominated two tie-breaks to complete the victory.

The Czech may now have the chance to exact revenge for his defeat against Tsitsipas in Rotterdam when he faces the winner of Sunday night's match between the third-seeded Greek and the 15th-seed Jannik Sinner in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. (ANI)

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