Felix Auger-Aliassim. “Mr. Nice Guy» has got killer instinct.

Felix Auger-Aliassim.  "Mr. Nice Guy» has got killer instinct.
Three weeks, three titles: Felix Auger-Aliassim wins Swiss Indoors in Basellu

key stone

Hardly anyone watches his tennis career as carefully as the new Swiss indoor champion Felix Auger-Aliassim. The 22-year-old Canadian is friendly to everyone but tough on himself.

The image of the always friendly Canadian may be a cliché, but Felix Auger-Aliassim sums it up perfectly. While his opponent Holger jumps nervously before the final at Rune Basel, Auger-Aliassim does not forget to dutifully shake the referee’s hand before the coin toss. And then he wisely guides the lucky tennis fan, who was allowed to toss the coin, into the correct position for the obligatory photo.

For a long time, Canadians were also very polite in sports – in this case, of course, involuntarily. He was only the second player in history to lose his first eight (!) finals on the ATP Tour. “Sometimes I wasn’t good enough, sometimes I played poorly, sometimes the pressure was great,” Auger-Aliassim observes at the time. He doesn’t want to miss her.

grateful for difficult experiences

“I’m grateful that I’ve already had such difficult experiences,” he says. “You learn from it, it made my skin plump.” This year they have now won their first four tournaments, most recently three in three weeks. Auger-Aliassim is now ranked 8th in the world and should not miss the first qualification for the ATP Finals.

There is a system to success and it is earned through hard work. Auger-Aliassim is the son of a French-Canadian teacher and a Togolese who ran a restaurant in the West African country and was already a tennis fan and coach. In a portrait in the famous Canadian magazine “McClénis”, Quebec coach Sylvain Bruneau recalls his first encounter with seven-year-old Felix. “I saw hundreds of seven to ten year olds playing and I thought: who is that?” Auger-Aliasim stood outside. «He was different. No one else played with such intensity, no one else could have focused so much.”

Parents encouraged the sports development of Felix and his older sister Malika. Not primarily in terms of a professional career, but because they didn’t want their kids to sit in front of the television.

Today, the 1.93-meter-tall model athlete amazes with his sophisticated technique, with excellent service as a base, with sporting intelligence and with all his great calmness on and off the pitch. It wasn’t always like this. In Basel, Auger-Aliassim revealed that he was very emotional as a teenager. “Then I understood that I would win more if I always remained calm and optimistic.” Well this applies not only in a match but also in life. “I don’t panic so easily,” he says with a smile. “I focus on what matters.”

And what matters to him is almost exclusively tennis. He subordinates everything to her. Auger-Aliasim is a product of the emerging Canadian scene. At the age of 14 he entered the National Academy in Montreal under the wing of his first professional coach, Guillaume Marx. With a long time in Canada, he also speaks about his current strengths in indoor tournaments. “It’s been cold here for a long time, we play in the hall for half a year.”

Auger-Aliassime was one of the best juniors in the world. He had a significant experience at the US Open 2016. This was a time when he was often under stress. In the second round, he fell behind and looked to his coach for help. He looked away demonstrably once, twice. “I felt frustrated,” recalls the Canadian. “But I got the message: I have to find a solution myself.” He did and won the junior tournament.

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Meanwhile, Frenchman Frédéric Fontang is their head coach, but this year he got extra help. Auger-Aliasime put together a list of dream coaches. Toni Nadal was on top – and to his great delight, Rafael Nadal’s uncle and longtime coach agreed. Tony is rarely present at tournaments, not even in Basel. But he communicates regularly with Fontang and has an hour-long discussion with his pupil after the disappointing US Open – Auger-Aliassim lost in the second round to world number 53 Jack Draper. Since then they have won 16 out of 19 matches. “Working with Tony is a real privilege.”

Always polite and friendly off the field, Auger-Aliassim has learned to make tough decisions and has developed a killer instinct on the court. Next year it will be all about shining in the Grand Slam tournament as well.

int, sda

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