If you haven’t yet heard of the name Felix Auger-Aliassime, in the very near future you most likely will.
Just earlier this month the 18-year-old Canadian captured the Tashkent Challenger in Uzbekistan–the fourth challenger title of his young career.
And in doing so, he joined an exclusive club of players–including Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych, Hyeon Chung, Mario Ancic, and Guillermo Coria–to hold four or more ATP Challenger titles before their 19th birthday.
The 18-year-old is currently ranked just outside of the top 100 in the ATP rankings. At six foot three inches, Auger-Aliassime is known to keen tennis observers for his athleticism and aggressive style of play.
“My strengths are probably my serve, forehand. I’m an aggressive player, but I think the coverage of the court is something I have been working on. And I think it’s paying off now with the big guys, you know, to be able to cover the court, to move well, and then to defend and stay in the points. That’s something that, you know, that helps me a lot,” said Auger-Aliassime about his game after a straight sets victory over fellow Canadian, Vasek Pospisil, at Indian Wells earlier this year
The victory over the 2015 Wimbledon quarterfinalist was one of the impressive triumphs for the young Canadian in 2018.
With strong results on the challenger circuit during the spring and summer, he would also record an impressive win over Lucas Pouille at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
“I think it’s kind of a statement, you know, for me to win these matches, to prove to myself and others that I can, you know, compete with these guys. That I have the level to be there, to compete in the top 100, it’s obviously great,” he said after his big win over Pouille in August.
“I have a long-term vision, and this is just another great step in my career,” added Auger-Alissiame who is part of an elite club of players–which includes Novak Djokovic, Juan Martín del Potro, and Richard Gasquet–to have captured three ATP Challengers or more prior to their 18th birthday.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, he was introduced to the sport of tennis by his father, Sam Aliassime, during his early childhood.
During this year’s Rogers Cup in Toronto, Auger-Aliassime spoke briefly about his background; and also touch on his hyphenated last name.
“My dad is an African immigrant. And when my parents arrived in Montreal, I was born and they decided to give me both names,” pointed out the young Canadian who says having Auger–his mother’s maiden name–as part his last name was intended to highlight his connection to the province of Quebec.
Another interesting fact about the 18-year-old is that he shares the same birthday as 20-time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer, with both being born on August 8th–albeit 19 years apart.
Prior to the start of the 2018 season, the 2016 US Open Junior boys’ singles champ spent some time training with the tennis legend in Dubai.
“It was good to see him from up close. He didn’t try to give me any, you know, particular advice. He wasn’t trying to be my coach or anything. But just to be close to him, talk about tennis in general, just hitting with him was obviously great for my game,” said Auger-Aliassime about his time training with Federer in December of 2017.
“I think it helps in these moments, you know, to have hit with the best player, to feel how they play. I think it helps me in these kind of matches,” he added after his victory over Pouille in Toronto.
Auger-Aliassime–a recent alumnus of Tennis Canada’s National Training Centre program-–also acknowledges that he’s also been inspired by the success of his good friend and fellow Canadian teenage phenom, Denis Shapovalov.
Having competed against Shapovalov since they were seven years old – and having won the 2015 US Open junior doubles title together–Auger-Aliassime gets a lot of confidence in seeing his friend’s ability to rise up the ATP ranking.
The 18-year-old says he picks Shapovalov’s brain whenever he gets a chance.
“He’s a great friend of mine, one of my best friends on tour. So we’re pretty close and we talk about anything. Nothing in particular like normal teenager talks,” said Auger-Aliassime.
The two talented Canadian teenagers would find themselves squaring off against each other in the first round of the US Open this year in New York.
But with Shapovalov leading 7-5 5-7 4-1, Auger-Aliassime was forced to retire from the match, citing a racing heart rate and dizziness.
“What happened in the third set, it’s tough to see a friend go down like that,” noted Shapovalov about the way their match ended.
In his post match presser, Shapovalov has nothing but praise for his opponent; and is quick to point out that Auger-Aliassime is the real deal.
“Honestly, he’s a really complete player. He’s got everything. I wouldn’t tell him to fix one thing about his game. I just think he needs a little bit more time, he’s going to have a breakthrough very soon. He’s such a talented player. He goes for his shots, which I really like. He doesn’t hold back,” said Shapovalov.
Shapovalov–who made his big breakthrough in 2017–-predicts a bright future ahead for his long-time friend.
“He’s got a huge serve. When it’s on, it’s unreadable and untouchable. I think he’s going to be an unbelievable player in the next couple years coming up.”