Turning point for Felix Auger-Alessem | Journalism

To understand how difficult it is to shine at the top of men’s tennis, simply re-read this statement made by Felix Auger-Aliassime, last Friday, after qualifying for the semi-finals of the Paris Championships.

Posted at 7:45 am

“It’s crazy: It’s my first Masters 1000 semi-final since the tournament [contre John Isner] In Miami in 2019. At the time, I wasn’t expecting to be there and thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m sure I’m going to play another Masters semi-final,’ but in the end, it took me three years to make it happen again. »

Three years no less! And we are talking here about one of the most talented players of his generation. Sure, Auger-Aliassime played in a bigger semi-final, the 2021 US Open. And the competition was fierce.

Case in point: When Auger-Aliassim faced Isner in Miami, the names Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Ron didn’t fuel the record. Both were only 15 years old. The Spaniard occupied nearly 500e World and Danish 1000e.

Their advance was meteoric. Alcaraz won the US Open last September – in addition to being number one in the world – and Ron beat Novak Djokovic in the Paris final on Sunday.

Today, all over the world, 14, 15 and 16 year olds nominees that the general public doesn’t know are polishing their game and some of them will soon become ATP stars. This wheel spins and spins again.

That’s why I’m always amazed when people predict that such-and-such player will definitely win one or more Grand Slam tournaments in his career. you know what? Nothing less confident.

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As proof of this, we are still waiting for the first titles of Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Rudd, Denis Shapovalov, Matteo Berrettini and, of course, Auger Eliasim. Some of them will raise a glass, maybe even a few times.

But given the constant influx of new talent and the massive presence of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (despite his injuries, the Spaniard hasn’t said his last), the others may never materialize. This is the ultimate dream.

Tennis requires more and more from a physical point of view. As a result, maintaining your health is a daily issue. Alcaraz must take a few weeks off due to an abdominal injury. Zverev had been treating a torn ankle ligament for several months.

In a high-level profession, you need talent and luck.

* * *

Despite this fierce competition, Auger-Aliassime has what it takes to win a Grand Slam title. His successes in recent weeks mark a turning point in his progress. We understood that on Sunday when he declared: “I think I have what it takes to be the world number one in my career.”

To openly discuss this scenario, Auger-Alessem is clearly convinced of its enormous potential. This is exceptional news. Because even if analysts and fans believe in a player’s potential, their opinion has little value if that opinion is not confirmed by his bravery.

Photo by Gabriel Monet, AFP archive

Felix Auger-Aliassime

In terms of self-confidence, Auger-Aliassime has made the biggest advance this season. He is now able to “close the books” in time.

This fall, we felt he was aggressive and confident on the field. He scored big points when his opponents were in the cables. Getting the winning shot, the one that boosts confidence and rocks the opponent, is the toughest challenge in a game of high tension. The young Quebec had a problem in this regard. But it appears to have been opened.

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All this is to be commended after the disappointments of August and September. In Montreal, he opened the draw in his favour, but lost sharply to Ruud in the quarter-finals. And at the US Open, he did not get past the second round.

* * *

This week, Auger-Aliassime was ranked sixth in the ATP rankings. It is simply extraordinary.

In sports, it is sometimes said that defeat is necessary before you truly understand all it takes to win.

Auger-Eliassim’s journey confirms this theory. This has frustrated him over the past three years, but ironically it has solidified the foundations of his game, and that is the case on many surfaces. As evidence of this, Nadal, the clay king, was forced to play five sets before conceding defeat to Roland Garros earlier this year.

All eyes are now on Turin, Italy, where the ATP Finals kick off next Sunday. The eight highest ranked players compete in the robin tournament.

As my colleague Catherine Harvey Benard reported on Monday, Auger-Aliassime approaches this meeting with confidence. “Obviously one of the toughest tournaments to win, but I think I have what it takes to be able to get there.”

This statement alone sums up the tremendous progress that Quebec sport has made over the past 40 years. Who would have thought that it was possible, then, that a tennis player from here would say such a thing one day?

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