Felix Auger-Aliassime played his fifth tour-level championship match today against Stefanos Tsitsipas and for the fifth time failed to win a set, losing to the defending champion in 88 minutes. But disappointing though his 3-6 4-6 defeat was, the Canadian has reasons to be positive. After all, of active players, only Andy Murray (five), Novak Djokovic (seven) and Rafael Nadal (18), reached more finals as a teenager, which is not bad company for Auger-Aliassime to find himself in.
And he still has time to improve on his record in finals as a teenager, with his 20th birthday some months away on August 8th. Nor is he alone in having struggled to get over the line in finals. Cedric Pioline, once ranked as high as 5th in the world, lost his first nine title-matches, whilst Julien Benneteau, who cracked the world’s top 25, lost all ten of the tour-level finals he played in singles, although he won 12 doubles titles, including the 2014 French Open.
And there is no doubt that Auger-Aliassime is continuing to improve, with a top-ten ranking looming on the horizon. The Canadian said of Tsitsipas after his defeat: “it’s getting harder and harder to play against you”. The Greek has now tied the head-to-head between the two youngsters at 2-2. Tsitsipas replied that his rivalry with Auger-Aliassime is making him a better player.
Of course, the pressure will on the Canadian will mount up with every lost final, but one has to remember how big of an achievement just reaching five finals as a teenager is. Roger Federer, for example, reached only four finals before his 20th birthday, although he did win the title at the Milan Indoors in 2001. Nonetheless, there is far from any cause for concern surrounding Auger-Aliassime. He may not have won a title yet, but it surely a matter of when not if he lifts his first title.
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