EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Eyes Improvement In Florence, Opens Up About Friendship With Berrettini - UBITENNIS
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EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Eyes Improvement In Florence, Opens Up About Friendship With Berrettini

Canada’s top player sheds some light on his current game during an exclusive interview with Ubaldo Scanagatta.



Felix Auger-Aliassime - (Ben Solomon/Kosmos)

Top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime kicked off his bid for a second Tour title at the UniCredit Firenze Open on Thursday with a roller-coaster win. 


The Canadian world No.12 outlasted Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2, in a match that lasted two-and-a-half hours. Auger-Aliassime’s triumph moves him into his 13th Tour-level quarter-final of 2022 and improves his win-loss record to 41-24. 

This season has seen Auger-Aliassime achieve new milestones in his career, including winning his first Tour title at the Rotterdam Open, reaching a ranking-high of No.8 in August and defeating a top three player for the first time (No.3 Alexander Zverev at the ATP Cup). 

Following his latest win in Florence, the 22-year-old spoke exclusively to Ubitennis. Giving a frank assessment of his current form and his chances of winning a second Tour trophy this week in Italy. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: You won what was a very difficult match in three sets. I expected you to win in two, what about you?

Auger-Aliassime: You never know before the match. When the match was underway I won the first set 6-4 and then I was playing great in the second, I had an early break. I was serving good. 

So I didn’t play so bad but he played some good points. I got a bit tight. Then the tiebreak was terrible for me. That was very difficult to accept but after it was good to come back and finish the match in a good way. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: It was quite strange to see you lose two serves in a row (in the second set) and then you were serving a lot towards his backhand sometimes which was a surprise because he plays much better with his backhand than the forehand. Was that a tactical approach?

Auger-Aliassime: It depends. I was serving more to the forehand with my first serve and then I tried to mix it up with my second serve. Sometimes when you’re on the court you have to make a decision and you don’t know how your opponent is going to react. 

I think in the third set, in the games I was directing more towards his forehand side, making him move there and getting some short balls. After that, I was playing better tactically. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: You will next play Nakashima who is a player making great progress on the Tour. This year he has made a lot of improvements. Have you ever played him before?

Auger-Aliassime: I’ve never played him. We have only practiced together but he is a great player who has improved a lot. He’s consistent and very precise. He has a good serve and a good return. He has a complete game for a young player who I think will improve more and become a top player to play against. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Your best ranking was No.8 and you have won one tournament in Rotterdam. Also, you have lost quite a few finals but how do you find this surface in Florence? How do you rate your chances of winning? 

Auger-Aliassime: It’s always a good challenge. Today (Thursday) I played three sets but I know I have to play better in order to win the tournament. I have to take it match-by-match. 

It’s a good challenge because it is where I want to be as a player. I want to be at the top, fighting for this spot (the title). To be at the top of the draw and try to win. It starts at these tournaments, I have to be able to step up to the challenge. 

It’s also a good opportunity for me to try and prove myself, and become a better player. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Matteo Berrettini said that you are his best friend on the Tour. Do you still see him as much as before as he was dating somebody that you may know….? (tennis player Ajla Tomljanovic who is also cousins with Aliassime’s girlfriend Nina Ghaibi). 

Auger-Aliassime: He’s a good guy and I get along well with him. We have played a few doubles in the past years but now it is a bit less as he plays more with his brother. 

We also practice together and train in Monaco.

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Were you surprised that Matteo lost in Florence? He was complaining a bit about the slow surface. 

Auger-Aliassime: We practiced together (in Florence earlier this week), and it was a good set – 7-6 like every time we play. He won it, I had a set point but I lost. Of course, I was surprised, I think he had opportunities in the second set. So it’s tough. I saw him at breakfast, it is tough to lose when you’re at home. Everybody has come to see you. 

I know how he feels. I played in Montreal this year, had a tough loss and it is never easy to go out like this. But there are still a few tournaments this year and hopefully, he can bounce back. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Finally, what is your general impression about playing in Italy?

Auger-Aliassime: I used to come here when I was under 12. I remember going to Trieste, they had this tournament in Porto San Giorgio. I also played here many times in Challengers. It’s a country that loves tennis. As a player, you come here and on the first day of practice, everybody is there (to watch you). In the city, people say hello and wish you good luck, so it’s really lovely when you’re playing in Rome. Hopefully, if I play in Turn (at the ATP Finals) it will be the same or maybe even better. 

It is really nice that they (the ATP) were able to organize a tournament here (in Florence) and I love everything about it. I felt good from the moment I came, the city is great and the people have given me amazing support. 


EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Previews Musetti Semi-Final, Aims For ATP Finals Spot

Felix Auger-Aliassime spoke to UbiTennis about his semi-final in Florence with Lorenzo Musetti.



Felix Auger-Aliassime (@AlemTenis - Twitter)

UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta spoke with Felix Auger-Aliassime after his 6-3 6-4 quarter-final victory over Brandon Nakashima in Florence.


The Canadian is into the last four at the ATP 250 event in Florence after defeating Brandon Nakashima in a routine straight sets victory in Italy.

Despite being broken in the opening game, Auger-Aliassime remained calm and collected as he secured victory in 90 minutes.

Next for Auger-Aliassime is Lorenzo Musetti who he has lost to twice with one of those meetings happening in Monte-Carlo this year.

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta, Auger-Aliassime spoke about why the match-up has been tough for him in the past and whether their meetings on clay will impact this match.

The world number 13 also spoke about aiming to reach the ATP Finals in Turin and how much it would mean to him be a part of the elite eight at the end of the year.

Scanagatta: Here we are with Felix Auger-Aliassime who won quite easily against Nakashima, Am I wrong if I say quite easily or easier?

Auger-Aliassime: Easier. It’s always relative to your level and the perspective you want to look at it because the score. I got broken first came and come back well, it’s always tough to come back from a break down but I did well to bounce back from the first game and then I played a great set of tennis in the first set, a really good level. Then again starting the second set very good, so then holding serve until the end. So it was a great match and a great performance but I had to play my best tennis in order to win like this.

Scanagatta: Listen, can I give you good news? Tonight you are eighth in the race, 20 points more than Fritz because Fritz 2,885 and you went to 2,905.

Auger-Aliassime: You know they have it on the internet?

Scanagatta: Yes but they had to take away 45, not everybody knows that you have already completed, you are only 20 points ahead, sometimes UbiTennis is better. Apart from that you have to play Musetti and against Musetti you are down 2-1, you won Barcelona, where he had to retire but was up one set and then the other two was always played on clay. Is this better for you? Because today Musetti said I like very much this surface and I have more time and so on.

Auger-Aliassime: Look, he’s been playing very well.

Scanagatta: Have you seen him today?

Auger-Aliassime: I watched a little bit of the match today. Seemed like he was playing very good. He was hitting the ball very well, aggressive and precise. He’s a good player and he’s one of the top young players. You know I lost twice to him so of course it proves the quality that he has not only against me but he beat a lot of good players so I have to be ready for a tough match. I think potentially it can be the toughest match that maybe I have to play this week. So I have to be ready for that.

Scanagatta: He is going to have his best ranking next Monday, he will be 24 and only 23 if he would win the tournament, 24 already for being in the semi-final. What do you remember of those matches when you played him? What you recall?

Auger-Aliassime: Well he has a great touch as we all know, especially on clay he was very precise and a great touch mixing it well, the backhand. We had a close match in Lyon, I don’t remember Lyon very well but I remember the first time and of course this year in Monte-Carlo where he played really good and I wasn’t serving well and being as aggressive as I am today. But he was playing really well, backhand cross and down the line, forehand was very aggressive so he is a good player and a complete player so that’s all I can say.

Scanagatta: How important is it for you to make the Finals, the ATP Finals in Turin? Which would give you another chance to come back to Italy and eat some pasta…

Auger-Aliassime: Yeah that’s why I want to do it. That’s why it’s important because it’s in Turin and it would be great of course. You know like I said earlier this week, I love to play in Italy and not only it’s in Italy but it’s one of the best tournaments in the year. It would be a privilege to be in that group of eight players. Of course my position now, like everybody on your sheet, we’re fighting hard to make it but the competition is tough so I mean it starts at the start of the year so at the end of the day it’s not like, all the results I had throughout the year some wins, some losses it has an impact now. Of course now I’m still in a good position, so I will try to push through the last tournaments of the year and to qualify will be great.

Scanagatta: OK last question, Why you always wear black, these days I always see you wear black. Does Adidas asking is it because you like to play at night because it’s more elegant or you choose one or the other?

Auger-Aliassime: No I have a collection from New York and I change the collection there. I have black and I have purple and I thought I like the black with colourful shoes so I’m interested in my style, so it needs to work. The collection that I have I have for the rest of the year, I like it that way with colourful shoes and very neutral colours.

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EXCLUSIVE: Mackenzie McDonald Reveals Minor Italian Connection After Reaching Florence Quarter-Finals

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis, Mackenzie McDonald reveals his love for Italian culture.



Mackenzie McDonald (@thenet_m - Twitter)

Mackenzie McDonald revealed his love for Italian culture in an exclusive interview after beating Francesca Passaro 6-4 7-5 to reach the Florence quarter-finals.


The American beat the Italian wildcard in straight sets to seal his place in the Florence quarter-finals where he will face another Italian in the form of third seed Lorenzo Musetti.

McDonald has suffered a number of injuries but has returned to the tour in fine fashion and is now a consistent top 100 player.

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta, McDonald revealed what it’s like to face an Italian player in Italy and why he loves the European country so much.

Scanagatta: First of all Congratulations, secondly tell us something about this match and you had to play an Italian and do you remember other matches played against Italians in Italy where you had all the crowd against you?

McDonald: I haven’t played in Italy a lot. Besides Challengers, I think this is my first ATP, well besides Rome, playing an Italian in Italy is definitely a tough feat and the crowd’s all for him, it was pretty difficult to deal with that but I think the next match too against maybe Musetti? It will be even crazier so we’ll see what happens.

Scanagatta: But the linesman and everything was fine, you didn’t have any problem with the umpiring and nothing else? Because 20-30 years ago, it was much more difficult to beat an Italian in Italy and what happened in Rome? Who did you play with? Do you remember?

McDonald: I think I lost to Sousa, the Portuguese player.

Scanagatta: How do you find this court and can you tell me if you saw anything of Florence, I mean is it the first time for you in your life? Do you have any impression about the city?

McDonald: Yeah, I mean I went out the other night, the first night I got in, which was nice went to downtown and walked along the river, across the bridge to the church and the cathedral in the middle. So I got to see the main basic things in Florence, there’s definitely more things I want to see. My sister actually spent a lot of time in Italy, it’s one of her favourite countries, she actually named her son Rome. So there’s definitely more I want to see and I’m going to Naples next week too so I’m enjoying the food and I’m going to be in Italy for at least another week so it will be fun.

Scanagatta: What about the next round? Say something about the two players you may have to play?

McDonald: I haven’t played either one. So not too sure what to expect I mean their both very good players, both in form. I mean everyone wants to do well here in the quarters, so it will be a tough match for sure. I think I’m just going to enjoy this one today and then I’ll focus on that one maybe later tonight or tomorrow but definitely will be a challenge tomorrow.

Scanagatta: There were five Americans here in this tournament, you were one of the five, quite a lot for a tournament in Italy. What do you expect about United States playing Italy in Davis Cup even if maybe you will not be in the team but Fritz and Tiafoe are playing very very well, how do you explain the comeback of the American Tennis after few years which were so-so?

McDonald: I think we got a lot of depth right now. We have a lot of guys in the top 200, just like you guys, and a lot of guys in the top 100. All different types of players too, we’re all competing and pushing each other at the top too. We’ve got Fritz who is top ten now, one of my best friends. We have a lot of talent so I think we have a good chance against Italy, it will be an exciting match for sure.

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EXCLUSIVE: Alexander Bublik Sets The Record Straight On His Commitment To Tennis

In an interview with Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta, the Kazakh tennis star also speaks about his connection with Italy, the current quality of men’s tennis and his Russian roots.



MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2021 at Madrid Arena on November 27, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Mateo Villalba / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

Tennis is a sport with many unique characters on the Tour and Alexander Bublik is without a doubt one of those.


The 25-year-old Kazakh can be described as his country’s version of Nick Kyrgios with his use of the underarm serve and his good sense of humour during matches. Although he has never been involved in as much controversy as Kyrgios has throughout his career. 

Bublik achieved a ranking-best of No.30 earlier this season after winning his first Tour title at the Montpellier Open. He has also finished runner-up at five other ATP tournaments between 2019-2022. According to the ATP, he has won 15 indoor matches this year which is more than any other player.

After a series of shock defeats at this week’s UniCredit Firenze Open in Florence, Bublik is the third-highest-ranked player remaining in the draw. On Wednesday he defeated Corentin Moutet 7-5, 6-4, in the second round and afterwards spoke with Ubitennis. Despite the late night ending of his match, Ubaldo Scanagatta – who know Bublik since he was younger, when his manager Corrado Tschabuschnig helped him to get their first interview – waited for him until 2AM to get this wide-ranging interview. Addressing his love for Italy and why he previously said he only played tennis for the money. 

UBITENNIS: Congratulations on winning against Moutet. It is the second match in a row that you have won in two sets. How do you like this court and what do you think about your performance?

BUBLIK: The club is great and it is close to the hotel which is enjoyable because I like to play in Italy. Unfortunately, there aren’t many weeks (on the Tour) where you can play in Italy on hardcourts.

Rome is one of my favorite tournaments. I always enjoy playing in Italy and having a hard court event here (in Florence) helps. I will try to stay focused. Enjoy being here, the food and the crowd. It’s a great week for me and if I can keep going it’s great.

UBITENNIS: You were in the same half of the draw as Matteo Berrettini who lost on Wednesday. Could this help you in the tournament?

BUBLIK: I don’t know. I mean, yea Matteo lost and it is a pity for the Italian fans because they support him very much. If Roberto Carballes can beat Matteo, he can beat anybody. That is how tennis is nowadays. He can be 80th in the world, produce his best tennis and beat anybody. So it doesn’t really matter if Matteo is in my draw or not because we have to beat some very good players.

UBITENNIS: You are number 43 in the world now, does it make a difference at all and what are your expectations for the rest of your career? You’re only 25 and many players have got their best ranking when they were 27 or 28. Meanwhile, Nadal and Federer have gotten better with their strokes as they get older.

BUBLIK: I don’t think there is a big difference between starting in the top 10 and up to 50th in the world. You can see guys like Carballes beating Matteo. Of course, being 30th in the world rankings is better because you are higher seeded in ATP 250 events, seeded in Grand Slams and it helps with your draw. But In terms of level, I believe it is pretty much the same level as the top 10. The top 10 guys do play differently a little bit but still, it is not 1999 anymore when there were like three players and nobody else. Everybody can play tennis and every match is tough regardless of who you play.

UBITENNIS: You seem to have a good relationship with Italy. You have a manager, Corrado Tschabuschnig, who is Italian and a former Italian sponsor, why do you have this relationship with Italy? Have you seen Florence at all?

BUBLIK: Unfortunately I have had no time (to see Florence). I have an emotional connection with Italy. I enjoy the food, it is my favorite cuisine because it is the only one I can cook. It is very simple.

UBITENNIS: What do you cook?

BUBLIK: I can cook pretty much any spaghetti.

I do have an emotional connection to Italy, as I have previously said Rome is one of my favorite tournaments even though it is on clay. Every time I feel that I am at home and I like the people, pretty much everything. It fits me and my family well. My wife and Kid are not here but my Wife always enjoys Rome every time we go there.

Now playing here in Florence on my best surface is a pleasure for me.

UBITENNIS: You were born in Gatchina, Russia. It is good for you that six years ago you started to play for Kazakhstan with everything going on with the Russian War in Ukraine?

BUBLIK: I represent the country that I am playing for. Yes, I was born in Russia and have lived there for most of my life. I moved to Kazakhstan in 2016 and there is a big emotional connection there. What they did for me is incredible and how they helped me when I was in need. Of course, I do feel Russian with my whole family being from Russia. But being a player who represents Kazakhstan in the world arenas is a pleasure for me and I feel very proud.

UBITENNIS: You once made a declaration that you played tennis not because you liked it but because you wanted to make money. I am not sure if this was a joke or perhaps badly reported in the media. So do you love tennis? I saw you in the gym until 1:30 am after one match.

BUBLIK: The media has been doing it wrong many times. With my speeches, sometimes they take my words out (of context) and use them. It was not a joke that I said I play tennis for money because at that specific moment I was not enjoying what I was doing. But as time went by and it has been three years since that interview, things have changed a lot and I do enjoy playing tennis now because I realized that this is what I wanted to do when I was a kid. When I was growing up I was standing in front of the mirror wearing Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer clothes dreaming of playing in (tennis) arenas.

When this thing (media reports on Bublik’s comment) about playing for money got too big, I was like this is not entirely true because I was dreaming of standing here in front of thousands of people. I definitely enjoy and love playing tennis.

Being a professional, there are still people within the circuit who are like do you have a coach? Do you have a fitness trainer? And they are surprised. It happens to me but slowly I can become as professional as some of the greats of the game.

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