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“I feel in my place”

Félix Auger-Aliassime is in an enviable position in his career. He just helped Canada win the ATP Cup in addition to cracking the top 10 for the first time. Hard to ask for better.

However, we feel that his last season was only a sample of his potential. It could still impress fans in 2022.

“I am in the position that I have always wanted to be, mentioned the Quebecer during an interview with Le Journal on Friday. We have reached the money time. Where it’s happening.

“This is where you can reach the highest peaks of your career. I am one of the best players in the world. I am no longer ascending. On the other hand, of course I want to become a better player and I want to stay in this elite group. »

In February 2019, the Quebecer was ranked 104th in the world. Less than three years later, he is ninth in the ATP rankings. He is only 21 years old.

“It happened quickly, but I realized it step by step, remarked the protege of Fred Fontang. I feel in my place. My pillars are solid and my base is solid. I feel ready for what comes before me. »

More maturity

Auger-Aliassime did not arrive at this level by magic. He’s had some ups and downs on the court over the past two years. He has suffered heartbreaking defeats which have allowed him to gain experience that is worth its weight in gold.

“I got to know myself. The tough defeats I had in some tournaments allowed me to find out what works and to be alert on certain aspects.

“It was a great learning. On the other hand, it will continue throughout my career. All these experiences allowed me to solidify myself as a player and as a person. »

He is not fooled. It is easier for a player to accept certain lessons with a smile when they achieve success.

“It often comes in parallel with results. With my results at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2021, I have moved on to another stage in my young career. I am becoming more adult and I have a better control of my career. »

Discussions in front of the mirror

At some point, the pride of
L’Ancienne-Lorette, in the Quebec region, said that he had discussions with… himself! He looked in the mirror to tell himself his four truths.

“I took responsibility and told myself that I had to take a step of maturity. I had to become the player I wanted to become in the future. I had some good thoughts with myself. I felt more confident afterwards. »

Nadal’s influence

Auger-Aliassime has been working with his mentor Toni Nadal for a year now. After a few tournaments and some adjustments, the results of this association began to be noticeable.

“Toni is someone you can talk to. It can confirm that we are on the right track or it can point out things we need to improve.

“At the end of the day, it’s me who plays the games and it’s me who has to build my own experience and learn to manage all of this. »

Rafael Nadal’s uncle has instilled a dose of confidence and serenity in the Auger-Aliassime team.

“Through his presence, Toni also brought a certain normality to results like those at the US Open. Nobody panicked or excited that I was in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam. It’s something he wants me to do a multitude of times.

“When you approach someone like Toni, you have to be open to getting advice, but also to trying new things. He helped me to improve certain aspects of my person and my attitude. »

The next step

Auger-Aliassime would like to approach the top 5 this season, but he will have to find a way to win a few tournaments to reach his goal.

“I don’t know yet what it takes to reach that plateau. In my opinion, it comes down to the details. I am already extremely picky during training and matches.

“I will continue to do what I have been doing since my first steps in tennis, but with even higher standards and even greater precision. I’m hopeful it’ll get me there. »

Win an individual competition

Even if he is in the top 10 in the world, he still does not have an ATP title in his pocket. And it’s not because he didn’t try. He still hasn’t won in eight appearances in a final.

“It’s one of my main goals for the 2022 season. The title won at the ATP Cup was good even if it’s a team tournament. It’s an important title for me. It’s a conquest that has done a lot of good to my confidence.

“My first singles title is coming.

Much confusion with the Djokovic case

Félix Auger-Aliassime is beginning to look forward to a decision being made in Novak Djokovic’s case.

“There’s a lot of confusion and I can’t really understand what’s going on in the situation,” said the Quebecer. I hope they will decide before the tournament starts so that we can move on.

“It’s been going on for a while now and it’s bringing a lot of confusion for other players, the integrity of the main draw and the tennis world. »

He avoided criticizing Djokovic’s actions and words. It’s not in his nature. The Serb has made a lot of enemies among other ATP players over the past two weeks.

A Finn from the start

To return to tennis, Auger-Aliassime will face Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori, ranked 90th in the world, in the first round of the Australian Open.

An opponent he knows well.

“I never faced him, but we trained together a few times, when we met at the Nadal Academy in December 2020, explained Auger-Aliassime. I appreciate him as a person.

“He’s an excellent player. He’s still quite young [22 ans]. He has a good hitting quality. I will have to give the best of myself. »

In his last two major tournaments, he was able to deliver excellent results with appearances in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and one in the semi-finals at the United States Open.

In Melbourne, he will be in the spotlight, and expectations will be high for him.

Same recipe

However, he has not changed the recipe with which he had success last season.

“I do not change my habits, underlined the ninth player in the world. I do my training with concentration and intensity, but we don’t stretch out the workdays.

“During major tournaments, you have to know how to balance your physical and psychological energies. Between games and training, I try to rest as much as possible. I’m going to take one moment and one game at a time. »

During Grand Slam events, players wage a constant battle between mind and body. They try to have the best possible balance.

“The two are intimately connected,” explained Auger-Aliassime. When I feel strong physically, it’s easier to feel good in my head. And vice versa.

“You have room for error. You have an item you can last on until the end of the match. These two aspects give me a lot of confidence. »