Felix Ready To Continue Success In Astana
In retrospect, it’s ironic, but in a spectacular span of nine days last month Felix Auger-Aliassime – in back-to-back team events – produced the finest-quality results of his individual career.
On 16 September in Valencia, Spain, the 22-year-old Canadian overcame a rabidly partisan crowd and the World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz with a breathtaking comeback 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2 in Davis Cup play. Auger-Aliassime, who saved each of the seven break points he faced in a nearly three-hour match, followed up his defeat of the reigning US Open champion with a doubles victory that sent Canada into the November quarter-finals opposite Germany. Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil defeated Marcel Granollers and Pedro Martinez in three sets.
Then at the Laver Cup in London, with his Team World trailing Team Europe on the final day, Auger-Aliassime teamed with Jack Sock to defeat Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini in doubles. He followed that up, stunning Novak Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3) in singles to give Team World a lead they never relinquished in winning the Cup for the first time.
And now, at the Astana Open where main-draw play begins Monday, Auger-Aliassime will attempt to translate that terrific team success into something more personal. He’s the eighth seed and faces Roberto Bautista Agut in a first-round match.
“Yeah, the last two weeks have been good,” he said before the tournament began. “Those team competitions I’ve been able to deliver good matches and raise my level when I needed to, when my team was counting on me.
“It would bring a lot of confidence to anybody to be able to win these matches when you need to. So, hopefully, I can bring that level going forward at the end of the season.”
Because Auger-Aliassime has always been mature beyond his years it’s sometimes easy to forget that, along with Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner of Italy, he’s one of only three players born this century among the Pepperstone ATP Rankings’ Top 25.
The Canadian has always had a healthy respect for tennis history but at the Laver Cup he was fortunate to experience it firsthand as 20-time major champion Roger Federer played his final match, doubles, with Rafael Nadal.
“I think they really did an amazing job of creating a great night of tennis – the speeches, the videos, the singing with the families,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It made it a very emotional night. When you see grown guys tearing up, like kids, without control it just proves how much tennis meant to him, how much he’s going to miss it.”
Auger-Aliassime and his fellow Team World players, reflecting on the powerful effect that Federer had on their early careers, had time to reflect on the debt they owed him.
“It was sad in a way to see him go but, on the other hand, it was a celebration of his career,” Auger-Aliassime said. “How much he’s impacted the world of sports and just to thank him in the end for everything he did. It’s good to know that he’ll be around. I’m really looking forward to his next chapter.”
Auger-Aliassime’s next chapter, based on those recent results, could be intriguing, too. He’s currently seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and is attempting to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. One thing in the back of his mind is replicating the searing run he had in February when he reached back-to-back finals in Rotterdam and Marseille.
“I was playing a really good, attacking tennis – really controlled aggression,” Auger-Aliassime said. “When I’m able to do that, and serve well, stay in the rallies, and feeling good physically, I feel like, yeah, I’m one of the most competitive players out there. I can really beat anybody.”
Consistency, however, is his new goal.
“I have trouble in trying to keep up that level and that’s something I’m trying, month by month, year by year, to get better at,” he said. “But I trust with the work and reflecting what I can do better every time, I have no doubt where there’s going to come a point where I can bring that level every time I’m on the court.”