**Editor’s Note: Kubler ended up defeating Auger-Aliassime in a third-set tiebreaker on Thursday afternoon. He will now face James Duckworth in the quarterfinals of the Hall of Fame Open on Friday.**
While Andy Murray nearly lost to Max Purcell on Wednesday in the ATP 250 Hall of Fame Open in Newport, and the No. 1 seed in the Bastad 250 tournament, Casper Ruud, fell, the biggest story of the day in tennis was a match between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jason Kubler that didn’t even finish.
The No. 9 player in the world, Auger-Aliassime, and the No. 102-ranked talent on tour, Kubler, were forced to suspend their match in Rhode Island due to darkness.
But the level of tennis before nightfall hit was terrific.
Felix won the opening set, 6-4, as Kubler was broken at love at 4 all. But the Australian had no plans of going away quietly. Kubler upped his level of play, using his nasty forehand and excellent court awareness to surprisingly capture the second set, 6-3.
While the high level of play continued in the third and final set, there were no breaks before the match was called at 6-5. Kubler will be serving when it resumes on Thursday (Not Before 1 p.m. ET).
Originally, it looked like the tournament was intent to finish the match, but both Auger-Aliassime and Kubler began pushing for a suspension. Kubler was especially adamant after slipping twice along the baseline — he actually wanted the match to be called in the middle of the 5 all game, but was overruled.
The chair umpire even called the conditions “extreme” when talking to who we presume were tournament officials. Meanwhile, the fans were booing and pushing for the match to “play on” — which is no surprise if they don’t have tickets for Thursday’s session.
While the drama is certainly something we wanted to write about, the actual tennis analysis of this match is critical.
We’ll start with Kubler. He’s jumped onto the radar over the last two weeks or so, but he’s truly been playing insanely good this entire year. The Aussie reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon, won a Challenger tournament, captured two ITF events and made the Roland Garros main draw.
Kubler has battled injuries throughout his career, but he’s playing some of the best tennis of his life.
And it definitely was evident in this match via the eye test. The 29-year-old was dictating the pace of play, was controlling a significant amount of points and showed a clutch gene on his service games.
Regardless of the result, this type of match proves that Kubler is capable of doing major damage in future tournaments — especially on grass — if he can stay healthy long term.
Meanwhile, Auger-Aliassime seems to be in an odd place at this point in the tennis season. He’s always said he enjoys playing on grass, but after an impressive 2021 grass-court season, he’s struggled this year. The Canadian lost in the first round of Wimbledon and didn’t look very sharp in this first-round match.
He committed many uncharacteristic errors on Wednesday — both mentally and physically — that allowed Kubler to get back into the match and force a third set.
This isn’t a good time to be in shaky form, either. With Novak Djokovic’s status for the US Open up in the air, Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev injured and Daniil Medvedev having his own form issues for known reasons, the final major of the year is for the taking. Obviously, the US Open is played on an entirely different surface and is still about a month and a half away, but it’s still worth discussing.
But first of all, who will ultimately advance in Newport? Well, that’s likely going to be decided by a tiebreaker.
The winner will then have to face James Duckworth in the quarterfinal round.