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Felix Auger-Aliassime vows to remain true to himself as spotlight shines brighter

September 15, 2019


Auger-Aliassime has impressed (Picture: TPN/Getty Images) There’s a feeling that Felix Auger-Aliassime belongs at the top  The Canadian prodigy may have disrupted the status quo with his six-week surge from outside the top-100 to world No 33, but there is little to suggest this is a one-off surge in form. He’s here to stay  He is the only 18-year-old inside the top-150 – Germany’s Rudolph Molleker is the only player of the same age inside the top-200 – although that sort of accomplishment is nothing new for one of tennis’ brightest sparks  Auger-Aliassime became the first player to win a Challenger match at 14, was the youngest player since Rafael Nadal to crack the top-200 and became the youngest ATP 500-level finalist in history  So what sets him apart from others his age?  ‘It’s funny to say because I think one of the reasons why I grew in the rankings so fast and why everything has gone so fast is because I took my time and I didn’t skip steps so it’s kind of the opposite of going fast,’ he says at an intimate media gathering in Monte Carlo Highest-ranked ATP players 18 or under  33 – Auger-Aliassime (18)165 – Molleker (18)311 – Sinnner (17)425 – Tseng (17)444 – Cornut-Chauvinc (18)484 – Musetti (17)  ‘Doing everything in the right order, not burning any steps since I’ve been a kid That’s been the key to me growing in the sport so fast because I felt like every step of the way I was comfortable in what I was doing and felt I was right at my place Advertisement Advertisement  ‘I’ve never really compared to what other players have done before or what others players my age were doing because we hear all the time “okay, he’s done this at 14, 15, 16” – I was just “okay, if I’m playing at this level it means I deserve to be here and I’ve worked for it” The main key to being where I am today is being true to myself and taking it step by step ’  Staying true to himself appears important to the well-mannered teenager.  Calm, articulate and at ease with a bombardment of questions – in French and English, both of which he speaks fluently – there seems little doubt that he will be able to cope with the bright glare of the ever-increasing spotlight  ‘It hasn’t been too difficult,’ he adds. ‘Along the way I’ve been able to stay the same person That’s what I want to keep on doing. Everything I do is not worth it if I don’t stay the same to my people, to my coaches Auger-Aliassime is climbing the rankings (Picture: TPN/Getty Images) ‘The main thing that is changing is the way people see you from the outside I think thats the part that I don’t like.  ‘It feels funny to be in your own city and be recognised everywhere you go Not all the time, obviously, but when it happens, maybe I don’t feel comfortable with it yet  ‘It’s not a big deal because I think when I’m in TV interviews I’m staying the same person so its not like I have to put on another mask or a double face so it hasn’t been too challenging for me ’ Advertisement Advertisement  The youngest of of an exciting crop of Canadians – along with fellow youngsters Denis Shapovalov and Bianca Andreescu – Auger-Aliassime refuses to put ‘limits’ on himself but confessed he is well ahead of schedule in 2019, having made a spot in the top-100 and regular appearances in the main draws of the Grand Slams his main priorities  Now, just outside the top-30, the landscape has surely changed. But Auger-Aliassime feels he has already learnt the hard way that results are not the be all and end all at this early stage of his career  ‘I never put myself any limits. I like to go as high as I can, as far as I could,’ he says Will Felix keep impressing? (Picture: Getty Images) ‘Last year I was injured at the start of the year, I did a mistake, I wanted to win before improving and before working on my game and before playing the game and I think that cost me Until the French Open last year I was kind of not in the right place mentally. I was too much looking for the results and comparing myself too much  ‘And I think this year, I started the year thinking I’ll see where my ranking goes Obviously I wanted to crack the top-100 and be in the main draw of Slams but I was just more thinking about how I wanted to play, how I wanted to improve and that’s been the key for me since last year, being really focused on the work every day, on the process Advertisement  ‘I truly believe that if you do the right things every day, this is the best chance of going to where you want to go ’  His first tour-level final in Rio came on clay and there is much anticipation about upcoming performances on the dirt after his impressive displays on hard courts en route to the semi-finals of the Miami Open last month  From a British perspective, though, it’s hard not to be particularly excited about his arrival on the grass courts this summer More: Tennis Federer gives first glimpse of clay-court prep as Edmund suffers Monte Carlo collapse Emotional Rafa Nadal lauds ‘favourite sportsman’ Tiger Woods after latest Masters triumph Rafael Nadal responds to injury dig from Uncle Toni Although he’s aready signed up by Queen’s – a tournament that boasts an impressive roster of the game’s most talented youngsters including Stefanos Tsitsipas and Shapovalov – and is due at Wimbledon, Auger-Aliassime has largely dodged the surface so far in his fledgling career  ‘I played once in juniors, I got to the quarters of Wimbledon,’ he says ‘I think I have the game to play well on every surface.  ‘Hard is the surface I grew up playing on From juniors and starting pros I did a lot on clay and I enjoyed it but at the same time I think with my serfve that’s been improving a lot in the last years and also being able to come in more and more and winning points at the net like I did in Miami lately so I’ll be able to do good things on the grass Advertisement  ‘Obviously in the first year, the first tournaments, the first time being in Wimbledon, being in Queen’s you have to get used to the environment I don’t put many high expectations on myself in terms of results but to play well and do the right things and see what I can do It’s exciting.’ How high will Felix Auger-Aliassime go in the rankings?Top-300%Top-20 0%Top-100%World No 10%Share your resultsShare your resultsTweet your results Advertisement Advertisement

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