Felix Auger Aliassime: "The best moment of the year for me was the US Open" - UBITENNIS
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Felix Auger Aliassime: “The best moment of the year for me was the US Open”

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Canadian teenager Felix Auger Aliassime has become one of the leading players from the generation of the “millennials” since he made his professional debut at the Drummondville Challenger tournament in 2015 when he reached the Main Draw at the age of 14.

 

He ended the 2018 season ranked world number 109, although he missed January due to a knee injury.

“I had a rather start to the season due to an injury and it delayed my results and my development during the year. After that, I got back on track towards the middle of the year and I just started to accumulate wins”, said Aliassime during an interview to Tennis Canada.

The Canadian 18-year-old player was born in Montreal but he was raised in a suburb of Quebec City. He He started playing tennis at the age of 4. His father comes from Togo and his mother is from the province of Quebec.

Felix is one of the three players born in 2000 ranked in the top 400. He finished the 2018 season with six ATP match wins and became the second youngest player to win four Challenger titles behind Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who won five tournaments of this category when he was 18 years and 2 months old.  Aliassime won his first ATP Challenger doubles title with his partner Nicola Kuhn beating Marin and Tomislav Draganja.

He made his debut in an ATP main draw in Rotterdam, where he lost to Filip Krajinovic. The young Canadian grabbed the headlines, when he became the first player born in 2000 to win a Masters 1000 match when he beat Vasek Pospisil at Indian Wells. He lost to Milos Raonic in the second round. He was the youngest player to win a match at Indian Wells since Michael Chang in 1989. Aliassiame received a wild-card for the Montec-Carlo Masters where he lost his opening match to Misha Zverev in three sets. In June he won the ATP Challenger in Lyon, where he successfuully defended his title by beating Johan Tatlot in the final. He became the youngest player to win an ATP Challenger title.

“I had a successful streak of two or three weeks where I was able to get multiple victories, so I am happy with the way I finished the year, not necessarily in terms of ranking, but more regarding the level that I have reached and the confidence that I have gained. It was a year of learning and a year where I gained experience, especially in terms of travelling”.

He received a wild card to play in the main draw of the Canadian Open he upset Lucas Pouille in the first round before losing to Danil Medvedev in three sets.

“One of the most difficult moments was the loss against Medvevev at Rogers Cup, but when I look back at it objectively, it was a great tournament after that win against Pouille. To play an exciting match in front of the home crowd was really great. It will help me to perform even better in Montreal. I want to establish my place in the top 100, to get those few points to break in and continue with my development. That will be my main objective again”.

Two years after becoming the youngest junior champion at the US Open, Aliassime wn three qualifying round matches to reach the Main Draw to make his debut in a Grand Slam tournament at Flushing Meadows. In the first round match against his compatriot Denis Shapovalov, Aliassime was forced to withdraw after the fifth game of the third set due to heat exhaustion.

“The best moment of the year for me was the US Open and the way I qualified for the main draw, using the last opportunity to do that in 2018. It turned out to be a good week despite everything, although I had to leave extremely for not being able to finish to finish that match against Denis”.

He made a quick recovery and returned to the court a few weeks later. He reached his first ATP quarter final in Shenzhen and won his fourth Challenger title in Tashkent.

“With all the thing that happening around me, the expectations regarding my potential, we sometimes forget to stay in the present and appreciate the journey and enjoy each moment. There was the additional pressure that I put on myself that slowed me down, especially at the start of the season. I think that I found the way to put that aside at some point to concentrate and leave the pressure behind”,concluded Aliassime.

 

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Jack Draper Considered Skipping Montreal Masters Before Getting Biggest Win Of Career

The rising star completes a trio of British players who have booked their places in the third round of the Masters 1000 event.

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Image via https://twitter.com/OBNmontreal/

British qualifier Jack Draper says his decision to play in Montreal this week has paid off after he scored his first-ever win over a top 10 player on Wednesday.

 

The 20-year-old stunned world No.5 and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-6(4), in what is only his fourth appearance in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event. Draper, who is currently ranked 82nd in the world, won 74% of his first service points and blasted 21 winners past his Greek rival. Recovering from a 1-3 deficit in the second set en route to a straight sets victory.

Leading up to this week, Draper and his team considered not playing in Montreal following his 6-4, 6-2, loss to Andrey Rublev in Washington. However, their decision to do so was the right one. After coming through two rounds of qualifying, he beat France’s Hugo Gaston in the first round before knocking out Tsitsipas.

“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” Draper said in an on-court interview. “Last week [after] Washington, me and my coach probably were thinking we weren’t even going to come here. We were going to maybe train a week, get a bit of confidence. But it paid off coming.”
“I didn’t really have much of a game plan. I just thought I needed to play good tennis to beat Stefanos. He’s at the top of the game for a reason. [He’s] someone I’ve looked up to the last few years. It’s just good to be out here and try to express myself on this stage.” He added.

Draper’s win comes during what has been a solid season for the Brit who has won four Challenger titles. A former top 10 junior player, he won his first main draw Grand Slam match in June at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International.

Awaiting the youngster in the third round will be French veteran Gael Monfils who is playing in his first tournament since May. Monfils defeated Maxime Cressy 7-6(10), 7-6(8).

Draper is one of three British players to have reached the last 16 in Montreal. Ninth seed Cameron Norrie will next play home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime and Dan Evans faces Taylor Fritz.

According to the Pepperstone live ATP rankings, Draper will break into the world’s top 70 for the first time next week.

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Bianca Andreescu Battles Past Alize Cornet In Toronto

The Canadian is into the round of 16 of her home event after beating the Frenchwomen in another three-set battle.

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Image via https://twitter.com/NBOtoronto

Bianca Andreescu booked her spot in the round of 16 of the National Bank Open at Sobeys Stadium in Toronto after beating Alize Cornet in three tight sets 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 26 minutes.

 

The Toronto native hit 27 winners and won 60% of her first serve points in another marathon match on Center Court.

“It wasn’t easy at all coming off a tough match yesterday and another one today,” said Andreescu. “She played consistently and I had to go for every ball and I had to fight and I had to push through. I am happy with my mental strength”.

The match started with both players once again struggling with their serves and the first five games were breaks until Andreescu was able to hold serve to take a 4-2 lead. That break was enough for the world number 53 to serve out the first set.

The first three games of the second set went with serve before the Canadian once again to the delight of the home crowd earned three chances to break and broke Cornet’s serve to take a 3-1 lead. The Frenchwomen managed to get the break back the following game and at 4-3 broke the Toronto native one more time before serving out the second set.

In the decider the first three games went on serve and thanks to a poor service game from Cornet Andreescu got the break to take a 3-1 lead. That was enough to serve out the match.

Day 3 results

Another busy day at the National Bank Open in Toronto and there were a lot of surprising results.

Garbine Muguruza who has been flying under the radar lately beat the Estonian Kaia Kanepi in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, only needing one hour and 33 minutes.

Ons Jabeur the number five seed was forced to retire down 6-1, 2-1 to Qinwen Zheng of China while Paula Badosa of Spain also retired due to injury against Yulia Putintseva down 7-5, 1-0.

Jil Teichmann beat the number two seed Anett Kontaveitt also in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, and Aryna Sabalenka the number six seed beat the Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-3.

Leylah Fernandez was also upset as she lost to the Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia in two sets 7-6, 6-1. Simona Halep got past Shuai Zhang 6-4, 6-2.

Jessica Pegula beat the American qualifier Asia Muhammad 6-2, 7-5 in the all-American battle on court 4. Another American Alison Riske upset the Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in three sets 7-6, 0-6, 7-5.

The world number one Iga Swiatek had no issues beating the Australian qualifier Alja Tomlijanovic 6-1, 6-2 in 64 minutes and Coco Gauff sent the Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina packing in three sets. The number 10 seed needed three sets and two hours and 49 minutes to beat her 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.

Karolina Pliskova, the tournament’s 14th seed, steamrolled the American Amanda Anisimova. Finally, in the first-night session match, Belinda Bencic beat Serena Williams 6-2, 6-4 in her last match in Canada.

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6, 5, 4…is the rise of Carlos Alcaraz going to continue this week?

Canadian Open and Cincinnati Masters 1000 may allow the Spaniard’s ranking to reach new zeniths

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CARLOS ALCARAZ OF SPAIN - PHOTO: ANGEL MARTINEZ / MMO

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Numbers are fascinating, even worshipped by some, unquestionable and reassuring. We may forget the fallibility of subjective evaluation and rejoice with the sense of power that comes with belief that any reality, from outer space to the inner world, can be measured, and expressed with numbers.

 

And numbers have been fuelling tennis headlines over the last weeks as Carlos Alcaraz has been heading on, his rise in the rankings unblemished by the losses to Musetti and Sinner in the finals in Hamburg and Umag and ticking on like an ultimate countdown.  

In the next two weeks Alcaraz will have limitless opportunities to reap points in the two Masters 1000 leading up to the US Open since he will only be dropping the points he earned last year in Cincinnati where, after qualifying, he reached the round of 32 before losing to Lorenzo Sonego.

There is more at stake for those he is chasing: Medvedev, winner in Canada and semi-finalist in Cincinnati is surely capable of bettering such results, but it will not be a walkover. Zverev is fully committed to rehab and unable to defend his Cincinnati 2021 crown. Nadal, who missed all the second part of the last season and could be a serious challenger in terms of point harvesting, has just had to pull out from Montreal owing to his still-healing abdominal injury.    

Nitpickers may suggest that the most recent hurdles cleared by Alcaraz have not coincided with immaculate victories and that what had seemed for a long time to be a perfect set-up engine, meticulously fine-tuned, has been starting to misfire.

No doubt that his 2022 campaign had been a crescendo up to his triumph in the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid, where he brushed aside Nadal, Djokovic and Zverev. The match with Djokovic was of supreme quality and will stand out as one of the gems of the year.

Till then, his loss to Korda in Monte Carlo was the only lapse and could be considered an incident, as it may occur to any guy setting foot on clay for the first time in months, adorned with a new status as a tennis prodigy after his win in Miami and awaited by a roaring buzz of expectations.

In Paris, a first yellow alert did appear when he was on the brink of defeat in round 2 with Ramos-Vinolas in a match stained by 74 unforced errors. Then followed shining performances against Korda and Khachanov before falling in the quarter-finals to Zverev who overpowered him throughout most of their match. But Zverev was formidable that day and Alcaraz strove to the very end to find an escape way and was close to coming back, missing a set point in the fourth set tiebreak that would have tugged him into a decider.

His star seemed to be shining at Wimbledon after his impressive dominance over Otte, but two days later was obscured by Sinner. On this occasion, for the first time in his newly established career, his game appeared blunted.

Was his body starting to remind him he’s a teen, capable of formidable performances, but still to develop that endurance and resilience which are needed to maintain peak cruising over longer stretches?

Then followed defeats in Hamburg and Umag finals on clay. A final itself cannot be considered a disappointing result, but his halo of invincibility was dimmed.

Particular concern was his second defeat in a month to Sinner, where he appeared at loss for solutions over the last one hour and a half, his boisterous self-confidence slowly deflating and his body language revealing frustration. In his press conference, Alcaraz admitted such a sense of helplessness and said to be determined to figure out a way to win against the Italian. 

The point is that Alcaraz made such a great impression in the first part of this season that it has become hard to believe he can lose a match.

At his best, he can deliver any shot at any moment, with a variety rarely seen before. In an inspired instant, he can switch from herculean ball-striking to caressing a dropshot, which will land, bounceless, a few inches after the net. What about his eagerness to volley, often following his wondrously effective kick serve? Not to mention his serve which alternates power and spin, his endurance in winning long rallies, scuttling far and beyond to fling in a winner from out of the blue. Opponents cannot but be befuddled. 

And then, is clay really the surface that best suits his game? In an interview with Marca, he said he’s comfortable on all surfaces but feels that his dynamic game most suits hard courts. If we couple this statement with his enthusiasm for being in Montreal and playing the Canadian Open for the first time, after throwing in some hard work for a successful transition from clay to hard, we can be positive that the fire has been kindled, and the countdown for reaching the highest ranking orbits is running once again.      

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