An 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime had two great weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, scoring seven ATP wins in the opening two months and heading to Indian Wells with a lot of confidence. The youngest player in the draw of the first Masters 1000 event of the season made a winning start against Cameron Norrie and he was mighty impressive against Stefanos Tsitsipas, beating the rival from junior days 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 17 minutes for the place in the third round and the career-best win.
The newly-promoted top-10 player (the first from 1998 generation) lost all three matches against Felix at the junior level and stood no chance today as well, wasting all seven break points he created and getting broken three times to hit the exit door already after the second round.
Auger-Aliassime dominated with the first serve and had a clear edge in the pivotal moments, playing composed and well-balanced tennis to draw the most from his strokes and hit 18 winners and 20 unforced errors. Tsitsipas struggled to impose his shots and convert the opportunities in Felixs games (in just two different, though), staying way too behind on the return and firing 12 winners with 18 errors.
Just like against Norrie, Felix made the difference in the shortest points up to four strokes and he had the upper hand in the mid-range and longer rallies to seal the deal and book the place in the last 32. The Canadian drew first blood in the third game when he broke after a forced error, facing an ultimate challenge in the very next game following six break points he offered to Stefanos.
The Greek squandered them all, allowing Auger-Aliassime to wrap up the game with a service winner and cement the lead that he carried home with three good holds for a 6-4 in 43 minutes. With the initiative on his side, Auger-Aliassime lost just six points on serve and broke Stefanos twice in set number two to march towards the finish line.
Unable to pass his rival, Tsitsipas sprayed a forehand mistake to give serve away at 15 in game three before falling 5-2 down when Felix earned another break at love in game seven. Serving for the victory, Auger-Aliassime wrapped up an impressive win with a service winner to set the third round clash against Roberto Bautista Agut or Yoshihito Nishioka.