MONTREAL– Felix Auger-Aliassime has arrived in Montreal. A roar for Felix permeates the grounds of Stade IGA in Montreal unlike no other. In his first-round match against fellow compatriot Vasek Pospisil, Auger-Aliassime showed tremendous poise under pressure. Conquering the nerves of playing in front of the home crowd, the Canadian teenager showcased his aggressive and tenacious persona on the court.
His thrilling 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3) over Pospisil, the third win over his fellow Canadian, is another accomplishment to add to the budding young star’s career.
“I was able to remain calm all along and to serve well. So this helped me be clear enough to win that match,” said Auger-Aliassime.
Felix Auger-Aliassime Learning How to Win Tenaciously
There is no place like home for Felix Auger-Aliassime. Growing up in Montreal, the 18-year-old was inspired to one day compete on the Rogers Cup stage. He vividly remembers when Vasek Pospisil made his semifinal run at the Rogers Cup back in 2013. And how a conglomerate of Montreal tennis fans got behind their national star.
But the World No. 21 was candid when discussing how this match with Pospisil was going to be different.
“There are nerves, for sure,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I think it’s all positive and very exciting. For me, I need to put the bad nerves away and just enjoy my game.”
In the opening set, Felix came out of the gate with his punitive groundstrokes and aggressive return game. He broke Vasek Pospisil three times, sending a message that the pressure of expectations was not getting to him.
But as the match wore on, both players raised their serving level, with each finishing with a 70 percent first-serve percentage. After winning the second set tiebreaker 7-3, Pospisil exhibited his veteran experience against the young Canadian prodigy.
There were moments where Auger-Aliassime could have crumbled and given in. At 5-5 in the third set, the 18-year-old was in an adverse spot. Down 0-30, Pospisil was hitting the ball early and right into the body of Auger-Aliassime.
As quickly as the match was going Pospisil’s way, Auger-Aliassime put an end to it. He converted four first serves to secure the hold. And would go on to hit the timely shots, including an up the line forehand winner, to claim victory. For the wise beyond his years Auger-Aliassime, he never had any doubts.
“In Lyon, I was down 0-40, being down a set at the end of the second. Similar situations have happened before,” stated Auger-Aliassime. “I think that’s why I was able today to stay composed and step up my game when I needed to.”
A Felix/Milos Rematch in Rogers Cup Second Round
Felix Auger-Aliassime will not get any relief for taking on fellow Canadian players. In the second round, the Next-Gen star will have to take on another veteran Canadian, Milos Raonic. The two met 16 months ago back at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Where the big-serving Raonic defeated young Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4.
But over the course of the year, Auger-Aliassime has experienced a meteoric rise on Tour. With three ATP Finals this year under his belt, he is the youngest to complete this feat since Rafael Nadal.
“I think the overall trust in my game is much more different than before,” affirms Auger-Aliassime. “Everything in my game has improved, from the groundstrokes to my return and my serve.”
Felix Auger-Aliassime will have much more monumental and historical victories than the one experienced Tuesday afternoon against Vasek Pospisil. But in terms of emotional and sentimental value, this one will always be the pinnacle.
Felix Fever has begun in Montreal and across Canada. And it is not going away anytime soon.
Lukas Weese is in Montreal for the Rogers Cup on behalf of Tennis Canada.