Felix Auger-Aliassime Takes Big Step With First Victory at a Grand Slam

Felix Auger-Aliassime is having a great year. At only 18 years old, he is currently at an impressive World No. 21 ranking. His great form on the ATP Tour began with a run to the final of an ATP 500 event in Rio de Janeiro. He has followed that up by reaching at least the semifinals in Miami, Lyon, Stuttgart, and Queen’s Club. Clearly, Auger-Aliassime is having a great year.

However, up until Monday, there were still two major holes he hasn’t filled in what would be expected from a player ranked as highly as Auger-Aliassime: a win at a Major (at the very least) and an ATP Tour title. Because, up until the start of Wimbledon, Auger-Aliassime had managed to get up near the top 20 without either of those accomplishments.

Now, it is very impressive to be able to rise so high in the rankings without winning at a Major or winning an ATP Tour title, but there certainly was a lot of pressure on Auger-Aliassime’s shoulders going into Wimbledon. Auger-Aliassime had done so much at such a young age, but with an 0-3 record in ATP Tour finals, and loss in qualifying in the only Grand Slam that Auger-Aliassime played in this year (he was injured for the French Open), winning a match at Wimbledon seemed imperative for Auger-Aliassime, which is crazy to say for someone so young.

Auger-Aliassime defeated fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil

The pressure surely intensified when he was drawn to face Vasek Pospisil, a fellow Canadian who had not played since the 2018 Paris Indoors qualifying and is ranked World No. 187. But, Pospisil was not to be taken lightly, as he is a player with an all-court game who made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2015. However, given Pospisil’s lack of play and Auger-Aliassime’s great play in Stuttgart and Queen’s Club, it seemed that Auger-Aliassime would cruise through this match easily.

But, Pospisil took the first set after Auger-Aliassime was up an early break. You had to wonder after the first set if the pressure and expectations to win were getting to Auger-Aliassime. He was only 18 years old, after all. And, the question became, how would Auger-Aliassime respond? Would he go into a shell and let the match slip away? Or would he fight back?

Auger-Aliassime fought back. He immediately went up a double break in the second set and took the set easily 6-2. Then, in the third set, he got the decisive break in the seventh game of the set to win the set 6-4. After breaking in the seventh game of the set in the fourth set, he showed remarkable maturity in saving two break points, holding and then breaking again for the match.

After an unexpected start to the match, Auger-Aliassime won 5-7 6-2 6-4 6-3. Auger-Aliassime dealt with the pressure of winning his first ever match at a major, and the unusual pressure that he was under, being such a heavy favorite to win at a Major when he had never done so before.

But, Auger-Aliassime is the ultimate professional, even at such a young age. He’s humble and is completely dedicated to the sport. He’s able to make headlines about the incredible tennis he is producing, instead of antics off the court.

Moving forward

Something totally commendable about Auger-Aliassime is his desire to take deficiencies in his game and work to improve his game. For instance, during Lyon, despite reaching the final, his net game wasn’t great. This was a major concern of mine heading into the grass court season, where good play at the net is very important to success. But, the improvement of Auger-Aliassime’s net game was seen already on the grass in Stuttgart, where he was much improved when moving forwards. Combine that with his big serve and powerful groundstrokes, and Auger-Aliassime is a scary player for opponents.

Auger-Aliassime will go for his second win at a Major against either Grigor Dimitrov or Corentin Moutet. If he keeps winning, he could play Novak Djokovic in the Round of 16.

But, at least for a little while, Auger-Aliassime should savor his first ever win at a Major. This was a huge checkmark on his resume and he should be very proud of himself. That first title will come with time, as well.

Felix Auger-Aliassime is into the second round of a Major for the first time in his career.

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