Auger-Aliassime eyes continued improvement
The highest-ranked member of Team World, Felix Auger-Aliassime has not stopped to reflect on recent successes.
You might think that, after downing then 6th-ranked Alexander Zverev to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon and punching through to the US Open semifinals – the first Canadian man to do so in the tournament’s 140-year history – Felix Auger-Aliassime would take a moment to savor his success.
But the 21-year-old says it was only moments after his 6-4 7-5 6-2 final-four loss to eventual champion Daniil Medvedev at Flushing Meadows that he flipped the proverbial page.
“Right away, it was back to training and focusing on the next goals,” said the first-time Laver Cup participant, the highest-ranked member of John McEnroe’s Team World in Boston. “But, for sure, it was a really good step forward.
With my ranking getting to No. 11 in the world, I’m knocking on the door of the Top 10, I’m in the [ATP’s] Race to Turin. It was a great run, but I think I can go even further.
The Montrealer has been on everyone’s radar since he captured the US Open boys’ singles title at 16; a swift, all-court performer who seemed to have every weapon imaginable. After turning pro in 2017, he would become the youngest five-time ATP finalist since Rafael Nadal in 2004-05. But with help from co-coaches Frederic Fontang and former Rafa mentor Toni Nadal, Auger-Aliassime, still seeking his first tour-level title, has learned to temper both his expectations and those of others, and just prepare for what’s immediately in front of him.
“You don’t always choose when you win, when you lose,” he said. “I’ve had some tough losses in the last couple of months. I’ve had some great wins, some great runs, too. You just take what comes and try to learn from everything. My main focus is on improving. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more I can do than try to improve my game every time I step on the court and see where it brings me.”
Auger-Aliassime’s compatriot, 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez, who not two weeks ago stunned the sports world when she faced Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu in an all-teen US Open final, is in a similar spot. Like Auger-Aliassime, she seemingly has all the time in the world to make good on her on-court dreams. But there’s an inherent impatience there, too; the knowledge that your tennis prime is finite.
“I hope to play for 10 more years, maybe more,” Auger-Aliassime told LaverCup.com. “At the same time, guys are playing well into their 30s. I look at players like Milos [Raonic] of Vasek [Pospisil], and I remember them playing their first Grand Slams when I was a kid. I think about how fast it went. They’re already 30, 31. So I try to enjoy it, enjoy everything that’s happening to me, and at the same time play as if the clock is running down.”