Felix Auger-Aliassime was already upset once by Alex Molcan, less than one year ago in Marrakech. On Wednesday at the Australian Open, the Canadian narrowly avoided falling to 0-2 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head with a comeback victory at the Australian Open.

The sixth seed stormed back from two sets down for a 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win in Margaret Court Arena, staying alive as he bids to improve upon his quarter-final run from last year in Melbourne.

“At some point I was just trying to spend a little bit more time on the court in front of you guys,” Felix told the crowd during his on-court interview. “I was trying to find a way to make the match tough and make it longer. When I was able to clinch that third set, I got a lot of belief in myself. My thoughts were way more positive. I was thinking, ‘OK, I’ve done it before, maybe I can come back and win.’ But I’m really thrilled that I was able to get it done. It was a tough day for me.”

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Molcan dominated the first two sets and much of the third with his variety and precision, with Auger-Aliassime hitting 39 unforced errors in the first three sets. But the Canadian’s booming serve bought him time to recover, and he sparked into life after breaking for the first time in the match to lead 5-3 in the third set. Prior to that pivotal game, he had not seen a break point.

“The numbers show it, but he was just way more consistent than I was in the first two sets, making me work,” the 21-year-old added. “I was just missing a little bit too much. I had to find a way to keep playing my way but not do as many mistakes. It’s quite simple. You have to put the ball in the court without missing at the end of the day. It’s not rocket science. I was just trying to put one more ball in the court, make it simple, make it work, and I’m glad it worked out.”

This is what it means 🗣@felixtennis@wwos@espn@eurosport@wowowtennis#AusOpen#AO2023 pic.twitter.com/415HHhyfgh

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 18, 2023

From 3-3 in the third, Auger-Aliassime won seven straight games as he began to inflict damage with his forehand and seize the momentum. While Molcan regrouped to claim the opening game of the final set, the Canadian’s serve and his aggressive ground game proved too much down the stretch. He finished the match with 23 aces and 59 total winners.

Through to the third round for the third straight year in Melbourne, Auger-Aliassime will next face Francisco Cerundolo or Corentin Moutet.

Molcan, who was on the verge of reaching the Australian Open third round for the first time, nearly scored his second upset of Auger-Aliassime in 10 months. The Slovakian saved two match points in the pair’s first meeting last April in Marrakech, ultimately winning in a third-set tie-break.

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