© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Felix Auger-Aliassime becomes the third player to push Rafael Nadal to five sets at Roland Garros, but falls short.

Felix On Rafa: ‘It Will Be A Monumental Effort For Him To Win’

Canadian reflects on five-set loss against 13-time champion

After spending four hours and 21 minutes on court with Rafael Nadal on Sunday at Roland Garros, Felix Auger-Aliassime knows where the Spaniard’s game stands. Although Nadal is a 13-time major winner for whom he has the utmost respect, the Canadian believes the road will only get harder for the lefty after their five-set thriller.

Will Nadal be able to defeat World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Tuesday in their quarter-final blockbuster?

“I wish Rafa the very best, I admire him greatly in everything that he's done. He's somebody who I really like, and so I wish him the very best for the next match,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But then I think that he also knows that it's going to be difficult. We played for a long time today and it's still the quarter-finals and afterwards there's still two more matches to win to win the tournament. Rafa is coming here to win the tournament.

“So as I said, I really wish him the very best, but it will be a monumental effort for him, I think, to win. But as he and Novak have always done, they will give it their all right through to the end and it will be a great battle.”

Follow RG Live Scores On The Official ATP WTA Live App

It will not just be a massive challenge for Nadal, but for Djokovic as well. Auger-Aliassime experienced the difficulty of playing Nadal himself on Sunday, when he played top-tier tennis only to fall short against the fifth seed.

“[It takes] a lot of effort, a lot of concentration. At one point even though he raised the level of his game, there were a few dips, physically, mentally, and I kind of lost the order of the game. I lost my intentions at one point,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But despite everything, I managed to come back when necessary, to serve well again.

“At the end of the day, I showed some positive things, and I managed to last the whole run and it's positive for what comes next.”

Despite his loss, Auger-Aliassime has now advanced to at least the fourth round at four consecutive majors. Before this streak, he had not made it that far at two straight Grand Slams.

Furthermore, Nadal has only lost three of his 112 matches at Roland Garros, with two of those defeats coming against Djokovic. Auger-Aliassime became just the third player to push the lefty to a fifth set on the Parisian clay, joining Djokovic and John Isner.

“I’m proud about the effort I produced, the game I played, and like most of my matches I try to leave the match without any regrets,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I tried things, I changed my tactics, my position and I think I tried everything with regard to what I did today.

“I think my service is very good, but there are things in my game that I can improve to be more comfortable in certain moments or maybe win not just by the skin of my teeth, you have to have a comfortable win. So there are things that I can improve, but I'm proud and I have no regrets.”

You May Also Like: Nadal Survives Felix In Five, Sets Djokovic Blockbuster At Roland Garros

Instead, Auger-Aliassime will try to move forward taking lessons he learned from the match and his entire stay at the clay-court major. He is No. 9 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and is trying to push higher.

“It’s always, I think, a constant work of progress trying to be a better player all the time. I know I have great shots, but they can be always more, more precise, more powerful, and more consistent,” Auger-Aliassime said. “So that's like the main line. That's the work of every day. But it's good to spend time in these matches on these courts and battle four hours, test yourself mentally, physically, and at the end, that's how you learn.

“You just try to put yourself in these difficult situations and try to find a way.”

Entering the tournament, Auger-Aliassime had not won a main draw match at Roland Garros. The Canadian leaves Paris having won three and tested an all-time great.

“It does me good to prove it to myself and to others that I deserve my place in the last players of a tournament like this one and I hope that in the coming years I will have the opportunity to win,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It makes me very happy to have won a few matches here this year.”