© Peter Staples/Citi Open

Felix Auger-Aliassime strikes 11 double faults in his straight-sets loss against Marin Cilic on Thursday.

Felix On Cilic Loss: 'I Couldn't Figure It Out'

#NextGenATP Canadian reflects on defeat in Washington, D.C.

Some days you play your best tennis, and other days you need to try to find ways to win without your top level. #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime battled hard on Thursday, but ultimately fell short of a solution against sixth seed Marin Cilic at the Citi Open.

“I don't know what it was, but I couldn't figure it out,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It was just really tough out there today, in every way. I just felt like I couldn't even play close to what I'm able to.”

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The double fault proved the 18-year-old’s bugaboo against the Croat veteran — Auger-Aliassime’s double fault on match point was his 11th of the match. But instead of dwelling on his performance, the Canadian wants to use this moment to his advantage moving forward.

“I'm going to go back to training, and that's just how I'm going to live with it,” Auger-Aliassime said. “There's not much I can do anymore except going back to training, try to improve, and that's what I will try to do.”

It’s not as if Auger-Aliassime is mired in a slump, either. He defeated in-form American Reilly Opelka in the second round, holds a 12-5 record in his past five tournaments, and a 29-16 tally on the year. The teen owned only six tour-level wins prior to 2019.

“Every loss for sure is an opportunity to improve,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Today has shown that I need to improve a lot of things still, but I'll just take the days that I have before Rogers Cup to see what I can work on before starting there.”

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Auger-Aliassime was not blown off the court, either. He battled hard and showed flashes of brilliance, including a one-handed backhand flick that brought roars from the crowd. At 4-4 in the second set, he earned a break point that would have allowed him to force a decider. But it was not to be.

“It's not always easy. Today was a very tough day for me, but I tried to bring the best of me,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Sometimes I'm not proud of myself with what I'm doing, but I try to do whatever I can. In a way I was able to do that. I had a brief point at 4-All where it could have turned my way. But for sure I'm going to fight to earn what I want.”

It’s been a whirlwind of a year for Auger-Aliassime, who has climbed from outside the Top 100 in the ATP Rankings at the start of the year as high as World No. 21. And now, the Canadian will take his momentum home to the Coupe Rogers, where he will compete in front of the Montreal fans for the first time. Although Auger-Aliassime is excited for that, he knows he needs to remain focussed like he would for any other tournament.

“I don't have to change my routine because of that. It is a big tournament, but it's a tournament like all the other ones. There's matches to play,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I have to prepare. I have to do my routines. That doesn't change. I think I will go out there and keep doing what I'm doing, but with for sure a bit of adjustments to not lose too much energy outside of the court."