Celebrated Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime is back for his third straight Laver Cup appearance having played a starring role in Team World’s maiden victory at The O2 in London last year.
Winning the doubles with Jack Sock on Day 3, and following up with an upset win over Novak Djokovic in singles, will go down as one of the Laver Cup’s most inspired feats since the competition began in 2017.
It certainly proved a tonic for Auger-Aliassime, who went on a winning spree in the latter half of 2022, including a 16-match win-streak that yielded three titles at Florence, Antwerp, and Basel after which he rose to a career-high No.6 ranking.
“It always brings a smile to my face thinking back on this moment, it was my second time as part of the team, but for Team World it was a tough run,” he recalls. “To lose all those ties in a row, to finally manage to win it was a special moment for Captain John McEnroe and his brother, Patrick, and for all the guys involved. We had a great time on and off the court. To finish the weekend with a win was really the cherry on top.
“For me personally, and for Frances who was able to win the last match as well to clinch it for us, I remember it as a special day because I was able to win the doubles to start with, with Jack, and beat Novak. To not only keep us alive but to take the lead, that was also in my season a huge win, a confidence booster.”
Auger-Aliassime’s teammates speak highly of Canada’s No.1 player, who speaks fluent French and English, and plays piano to a high standard.
Enthuses Ben Shelton, “Felix is a great guy, a focused tennis player, someone who’s always locked in when you see him on court, someone who works hard, practices hard, he’s someone who leads by example.”
Adds Frances Tiafoe: “Felix is a great guy, he’s a pros pro, obviously a great player. He brings professionalism, he’s going to do everything he can to put points on the board for us.”
Tommy Paul describes Auger-Aliassime as one of the nicest guys he knows. “He’s an awesome guy to have on your team,” says Paul. “He gets pretty amped up in the locker room too. The guy can play some unreal tennis, we saw it last year, he played a lights-out match against Novak and hopefully we’ll see more of that this year.”
How it’s going
Battling a knee injury in 2023, Auger-Aliassime nevertheless progressed to the second week of the Australian Open, the semifinals in Doha, and the quarterfinals at Rotterdam, Indian Wells, and Lyon.
Last year, he won an incredible 60 matches and his first four ATP titles, the first coming at Rotterdam. His 2022 season was also notable for wins over top players Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal.
The 23-year-old became the first Canadian men’s singles semifinalist in tournament history at US Open 2021 and as an 18-year-old in 2019, he set a record as the youngest semifinalist at the ATP Masters 1000 in Miami.
Auger-Aliassime at the Laver Cup
“Since the first time I played I said, ‘This is a great event. I need to come every year if I can,’” Auger-Aliassime says.
“ I just think the format is an amazing idea for tennis fans and for us players, we don’t get often to play with all these other amazing players that we have. We’re always playing one against each other. You can actually win together, not only with your countrymen but with guys from another country from your region.
“It’s nicer to get closer to these guys and share some good moments and to call these guys teammates for a weekend, I think it’s cool. I think later on we’ll look back with a lot of good stories and happy moments.
“When we won last year … it’s so special. Everyone is so focused during the weekend, but when you’re all relieved that you won and everybody is just happy, you kind of see that funny side come out of everybody.”
An all-time favorite moment for Felix was watching Team World Captain John McEnroe let loose after Tiafoe sealed the tie.
“John is very competitive, very serious, but when we won he was dancing like all of us, like we’re at a party like teenagers. It was funny to see that side of everybody.”