Frank Felix: 'He Exposed Weaknesses In My Game'
After nearly four weeks, three ATP Tour titles, and 16 matches won, Felix Auger-Aliassime was not going to let the disappointment of defeat at the Rolex Paris Masters get to him.
The Canadian fell to an inspired Holger Rune on Saturday in the semi-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 event, his first tour-level loss since the beginning of October, but Auger-Aliassime was keen to emphasise the positives as his remarkable run came to an end.
“Had I won today, had I won tomorrow, I would be in heaven,” said the 22-year-old at his post-match press conference. “It would be great to win. [But] throughout my career, I have always tried to draw lessons from my failures. As I said recently during the US Open, I lost early, it was disappointing, but I managed to overturn this into something positive."
Auger-Aliassime’s red-hot run earned him more than just trophies in Florence, Antwerp and Basel. The Canadian’s results over the past month were also crucial for securing his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held in Turin from 13-20 November, for the first time.
“It's the end of a winning streak,” said Auger-Aliassime. “It's something that was good that ended. From tomorrow onwards, I will focus my attention on Turin.”
Like Auger-Aliassime, Rune arrived in Paris off the back off three consecutive championship match appearances in ATP Tour events. The 19-year-old Dane again demonstrated the recent strides he has made in downing Top 10 stars Hubert Hurkacz, Andrey Rublev and Carlos Alcaraz en route to the semi-finals, where Auger-Aliassime was also unable to counter Rune’s high-powered game.
“I feel like because of the way he [Rune] was playing and how good he was playing, I have to give him a lot of credit,” acknowledged the Canadian. “He kind of exposed weaknesses in my game. He was just playing so aggressively without missing. I haven't seen or I haven't played many players that were this aggressive and hitting that hard, that deep.
“It was just exposing the fact that I couldn't manage to establish my game plan on the court and feel good and play two, three good points in a row.
“I wouldn't say my forehand let me down completely," added Auger-Aliassime, when asked what had gone wrong for him in his second Masters 1000 semi-final. "Of course, I did miss important ones or easier forehands, start of the second set as well getting broken there with two or three mistakes. So not particularly it let me down, but a few things in my game didn't work because of how he was playing.”
If Rune can defeat Novak Djokovic or Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s championship match, the Dane will enter the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday, having only cracked the Top 100 in January. Auger-Aliassime admitted he was surprised by the speed of Rune’s progress but saw similarities with his own rapid rise as a teenager.
“Well, I'm surprised, yes,” said the Canadian. “I knew he had a lot of qualities. We have Carlos [Alcaraz], who is a standout player, for instance… I was in the Top 100 as well at 18. We have a similar career.
"But I'm surprised, and I have to say hats off to him for his wonderful rise in the ranking. He has played very well throughout this season. He's had also very tough moments, which is not normal for someone who is [so young]. He managed to be in the final in Stockholm, in Basel. It's very incredible at his age. He hasn't been much on the Tour. Hats off to him because he's exceptional.”