Road to Boston: Felix Auger-Aliassime, Team World
Felix Auger-Aliassime is the youngest star called into the Laver Cup fold for 2021 and one of the most in-form cards Team World captain John McEnroe has up his sleeve.
After Rafael Nadal’s uncle Toni Nadal joined his coaching line-up in April, the 21-year-old broke new ground with an eighth career final, his top-15 debut and a maiden Grand Slam semifinal.
How it started
The Montrealer began with a runner-up showing to Dan Evans at the Murray River Open in Melbourne before upsetting compatriot and Team World teammate Denis Shapovalov to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open. Eventual semifinalist Aslan Karatsev prevailed on a searing Melbourne summer’s day to end his charge in five sets.
Auger-Aliassime again defeated Shapovalov in straight sets – this time on clay – in Barcelona before Team Europe player Stefanos Tsitsipas stopped him in the quarterfinals. Two weeks later, he upstaged Team World teammate Diego Schwartzman in Rome.
Grass reaps rewards
Casting aside the disappointment of a first-round departure at Roland Garros, Auger-Aliassime closed to within one win of his maiden tour title only to fall in his eighth career final in Stuttgart against former world No.3 Marin Cilic.
A trip to Halle days later proved especially fruitful when he went on to defeat his idol and 10-time champion Roger Federer en route to the semifinals, while he also teamed with Hubert Hurkacz to reach the doubles final.
It was a precursor to a watershed run at Wimbledon where he sprung the upset in five sets against fourth seed and Team Europe player Alexander Zverev to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Despite falling to good friend, Team Europe player Matteo Berrettini in his subsequent match, it was enough to ensure Auger-Aliassime’s ascent to the top 15.
How it’s going
Victory over Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Karen Khachanov and revenge against Berrettini in Cincinnati pitted the Canadian against Tsitsipas in a quarterfinal for the third time this season.
Again it went the way of the Greek but better was to come at Flushing Meadows. Wins over Roberto Bautista Agut and Frances Tiafoe made it back-to-back major quarterfinals and when Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz succumbed to injury, it landed Auger-Aliassime in uncharted territory.
The first Canadian man to reach the semifinals at the US Open, he was the youngest to do so since a 20-year-old Juan Martin del Potro triumphed there 12 years ago. While eventual champion and Team Europe player Daniil Medvedev comfortably claimed their semifinal, the run was enough to elevate Auger-Aliassime to a career-best world No.11.
Auger-Aliassime on playing Laver Cup
The Canadian relishes the opportunity to make his Laver Cup debut across the border, south of his home city.
“I feel so privileged to be representing Team World for the Laver Cup this year,” Auger-Aliassime said.
“To be able to play in front of a full house at somewhere like TD Garden will be just incredible. I’m also so excited to have a legend like John McEnroe in my corner – I’m sure I will learn a lot.”