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Auger-Aliassime pulls out win over Krajinovic in Rome

Mutua Madrid Open 2021

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 04: Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in action during his Men’s Singles match, round of 64, against Casper Ruud of Norway on the ATP Masters 1000 - Mutua Madrid Open 2021 at La Caja Magica on May 4, 2021 in Madrid, Spain (Photo by Oscar J. Barroso / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images)

Europa Press via Getty Images

ROME -- Felix Auger-Aliassime “dug deep” to pull out a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 win over Filip Krajinovic in the first round of the Italian Open.

Auger-Aliassime wasted an opportunity to close the match out when he served for the second set at 5-4. In the third set, he placed bags of ice around his neck and on his legs to cool himself down amid warm conditions at the Foro Italico.

He finally closed it out after nearly 3 hours for his first win in Rome, having lost in the first round the last two years.

“You’ve got to believe and be resilient at times,” the Canadian said. “I wanted to win badly, so I dug deep and I found a way.”

Since he hired Toni Nadal as a coach, Auger-Aliassime has had first-round losses at the Monte Carlo Masters and the Madrid Open and reached the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open.

Auger-Aliassime will next face Diego Schwartzman, a finalist when last year’s Rome tournament was held in September.

Also, 11th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta beat Laslo Djere 4-6, 6-3, 6-1; 12th-seeded David Goffin defeated Italian wild card Salvatore Caruso 6-4, 6-1; and Reilly Opelka eliminated Richard Gasquet 6-1, 7-5 to end a six-match losing streak.